Will travel for music: Destination – East Tennessee

Just like travel, sports, and my family, music has been a giant part of my life. I didn’t play any instruments growing up but music was everywhere. It was always on in our home when we were kids. Family road trips had their own soundtracks. My siblings and I were introduced to different musical styles and artists, from Glenn Miller to Jim Morrison. To say we all developed an appreciation for music is an understatement.

Bristol, Tennessee: The birthplace of country musicAbout twenty years ago, I discovered a new (to me) music genre, alt-country, when I fell head-over-heels in love with the band Son Volt. From there, I branched out to Americana, folk, and bluegrass. Inevitably, I began learning more about the places where the music originated, so of course I became determined to travel to those places. Not only did I want to explore the musical roots even more, but I wanted to be surrounded by the music.

So begins the story of how I developed an affinity for roots music. It’s coming into play now in my life as a mother, traveler, and blogger. It’s not uncommon to hear bluegrass or Mumford and Sons emanating from my home or my vehicle. Now my daughter is hooked, as well, so much so that she stated she wanted to learn to play the fiddle. I promptly enrolled her in violin lessons and she’s been studying the Suzuki method for two years now. She may want to continue with classical violin or she may stick with her original plan and switch to fiddle. Either way, she’s developing a musical ear and her own appreciation for the art. I’ve been known to travel for music and festivals, as recently as this past summer when The Working Dad and I attended the weekend Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Waverly, Iowa. (It’s also where The Working Dad bought me a banjo, much to my surprise, because he knows I’ve wanted to learn to play. I’ve been taking lessons since.) My enthusiasm and passion for music now is bleeding over into my life as a blogger, for I will soon be on the road to Bristol, Tennessee – the birthplace of country music – to cover the annual Rhythm and Roots Reunion. I love it when my worlds collide! (Oh, and I’m bringing my banjo!)

While I’m down in Tennessee, I’m also going to have the chance to visit the WDVX radio studio in Knoxville. Back in 2003, when Americana and bluegrass songs weren’t heard on radio stations in Chicago and internet radio was not quite what it is today, I happened upon WDVX while driving through East Tennessee. I heard songs by some of my favorite alt-country artists and many more that were new to me. I was so sad when we lost WDVX as we traveled farther out of its listening area, but that sadness quickly turned to elation when I learned that I could listen to WDVX online at home! This was before smartphones and apps so I had to stay close to my PC in order to listen, but I didn’t mind. And now I’ve been given the opportunity to visit the WDVX studio and attend a live broadcast. I imagine I’m feeling as my daughter would if we told her we’d be going to Disney World.

In April of this year I attended a “Tennessee Sampler” media event, which showcased the state’s musical heritage. We viewed a short presentation, during which a message flashed across the screen that has stayed with me since: “You can’t download it. You can only experience it.” And in just over a week, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to experience roots music in one of the places where it began and evolved, along with so much more that East Tennessee has to offer. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as I share moments from my own musical journey.

Made In Tennessee: Soundtrack of America

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22 Responses to Will travel for music: Destination – East Tennessee

  1. Elaine J. Masters September 13, 2015 at 12:38 am #

    How I wish I’d taken up an instrument. This looks like a cool experience.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted…Seeing America through other’s eyesMy Profile

  2. Carol Colborn September 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    I agree 100%! can’t help but talk about the best music tour we had…Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee! It rocked with all the sounds of their great artists while the guide was narrating the story of the Studio. My husband and I cannot forget that tour!

  3. Elena September 13, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Every once in a while, you stumble upon a piece of writing or painting, maybe a video that shows how much the author loved the subject. This is a very heart-warming story. Enjoy your experience to the fullest!
    Elena recently posted…3 Reasons Why We Are Not Going To Cape TownMy Profile

  4. Lance | Trips By Lance September 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    Living in Tennessee I am aware of the great musical heritage of the state, although I wasn’t aware of Bristol’s role. Look forward to learning more about your experience. And maybe one of these days you can come to my home, the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…One Day at Legoland CaliforniaMy Profile

  5. Lesley September 13, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    This sounds like a fantastic trip. I can’t wait to read more. Tennessee has some fantastic music!
    Lesley recently posted…Unique Experiences At Grand Residences Riviera CancunMy Profile

  6. Shobha September 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    I’ve never heard of alt-country although I’ve heard of Mumford & Sons. Now I know the category they fall under!
    Shobha recently posted…The Glittering Harpa Concert Hall in ReyjkavikMy Profile

  7. Katja - globetotting September 13, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    Wow, sounds like fun! I really look forward to reading more about your trip. I’d also really like to go to Tennessee!
    Katja – globetotting recently posted…My Family Adventure: Sailing in San Blas, PanamaMy Profile

  8. Mama Munchkin September 13, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    So fun!!! I absolutely LOVED my time in Tennessee and I am sure you will too. Can’t wait to follow you on your journey!!
    Mama Munchkin recently posted…The BEST of CaboMy Profile

  9. Bobbi Gould September 14, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    I went to Nashville once, and cannot say enough good things about it! I’m looking forward to hearing more!
    Bobbi Gould recently posted…7 Quick Budget Travel TipsMy Profile

  10. Claudia September 14, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    I love that you travel with your banjo! So true that things must be experienced – one cannot live by download alone. Music is SO much more than a commodity to be consumed and discarded.
    Claudia recently posted…How to Survive a Road Trip with Older KidsMy Profile

  11. Brenda September 16, 2015 at 4:59 am #

    My mother is a classical conductor so music runs deep in our family. We’re currently traveling full-time with a violin because our tween daughter has been playing since she was 6 (Suzuki Method also). She loves Mumford and Sons and the fiddle. Can’t wait to hear more!
    Brenda recently posted…The Peninsula Hotel in Manila – An 11-year-old’s experience.My Profile

  12. Victoria@celebratetheweekend September 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    I wish music played a bigger role in my life but I am fascinated when people follow their talents and interests into adulthood and can appreciate how full it makes your life, Francesca!
    Victoria@celebratetheweekend recently posted…Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode IslandMy Profile

  13. Robin September 17, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

    This is very cool. I would enjoy this as much as I loved the Ken Burns Jazz documentary and sountrack. History through music, music though history is all good.
    Robin recently posted…Best City Hotels for Families, 2015My Profile

  14. the lazy travelers September 18, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    this is so fun! have never explored this part of the country, but it seems like tennessee is gaining momentum as a travel destination. can’t wait to follow along! xoxo
    the lazy travelers recently posted…the lazy girls’ guide to villa livingMy Profile

  15. Erin Marie September 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    Music and travel go hand in hand so perfectly. Love the Mumford & Sons reference…obviously 😉 I also love that Lucia aspires to play the fiddler…so cool!
    Erin Marie recently posted…Cross Country Adventure: Week One RecapMy Profile

  16. Traveling Ted September 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    I went to school in Knoxville in the early 1990s. I so wish WDVX was around at that time as Knoxville was a radio wasteland at that time. I did not know Lucia was learning the fiddle. That is great! I can’t wait to follow along on the journey.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Finding a good campsite when neededMy Profile

  17. Susan September 22, 2015 at 5:04 am #

    I am so envious! I am longing to go to Tennessee and it just might be my next trip!! Thanks for this.
    Susan recently posted…A Bit of Paradise: Mala Mala Game Reserve, South AfricaMy Profile

  18. Karl September 29, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    Insightful post as always FF. Did you drive from Chicago? I’ve only been thru Tennessee before but everyone speaks highly and tells me to visit. Bristol at night is one nascar race I’ve always wanted to see.
    Karl recently posted…Kandal Market – Phnom PenhMy Profile

    • Francesca September 29, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

      You’re always so kind, Karl 🙂 We did drive down from Chicago. Tennessee is so awesome; I, too, think you should visit!


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