Mountain Music: Long Journey Home Festival

Just about a far northeast in Tennessee as you can get, you’ll find a county that is half Cherokee National Forest and half Watauga Lake. Nestled within those hills, lies Mountain City (appropriately named), and each year a celebration takes place honoring the iconic old time mountain music style that shaped country music as we know it.

The Long Journey Home Tour and Festival takes place August 30 through September 2 celebrating Appalachian heritage and true mountain music, complete with busking, a Musical Heritage Tour and the Unveiling of  the”Black Smoke a Risin” Mural and Sunday Sing-A-Longs in the historic Heritage Hall.


​Friday, Sept. 2
The fun begins on Friday evening with Buskin’ on Main Street. This event brings the small town to life with music, friends, and plenty of good eating. The Long Journey Home Art Show and Quilt Show are always a big hit. Then, Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, a short film by Appalachian Memory Keepers will be shown outdoors at dusk.

Saturday, Sept. 3
On Saturday, the Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour begins at the Old Mill music park at 1 p.m. with the music of Clarence “Tom” Ashley performed by Kenny Price and Jerry Moses. Then at 2:30 p.m. The JAM Band as well as the Long Journey Home House Band will share the stage for the unveiling of the Fiddlin’ Fred Price Memorial Sculpture at Johnson County Center for the Arts. This life-size bronze sculpture is the latest addition to Mountain City’s downtown Mural Mile, a collection of nine murals that honor the stories and songs of this unique mountain community.

Saturday’s tour concludes, as always, at the Fred Price Homeplace, nestled high in the mountains. Beginning at 4 p.m., The Piney Woods Boys will perform musical selections from the album Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s, Doc Watson’s first album, now on the National Recording Registry. Tour maps may be picked up at the Center for the Arts and other local businesses. The Musical Heritage Mural Mile and Long Journey Home were made possible in part though funding from Johnson County Community Foundation and Tennessee Arts Commission as well as the generosity of community members.

​Saturday, Sept. 4
The festivities end on Sunday with a Sunday Singing at Heritage Hall Theatre from 2 to 4:30pm. Several local musicians who carry on the deep traditions of mountain gospel will perform.

While You’re There

Johnson County Center for the Arts
At the Johnson County Center for the Arts, you can see the work of Long Journey Home artists, shop from local craftsmen, and find out more about the music heritage in Johnson County.

Doe Mountain Recreation Area
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Doe Mountain Recreation Area offers 8,600 acres of wooded forest and 56 miles of multi-use trails for off highway vehicles, mountain biking and hiking.

Johnson County Welcome Center & Museum
Johnson County welcomes travelers with the warm embrace of a beautiful log facility showcasing historic artifacts donated from residents of Johnson County, as well as area information about lodging and local attractions. Click here for info.

Watauga Lake Winery
Located in a five room schoolhouse overlooking the countryside of Butler, Tenn., Watauga Lake Winery produces award-winning wines from 4,000 vines grown locally in the Appalachian Mountains including a variety of red, white, fruit and dessert wines.

For additional information on the Long Journey Home Tour and Festival, visit longjourneyhome.net.