On Sunday, September 3rd, the 15th Annual Papa Joe Smiddy Mountain Music Festival will honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Joseph “Papa Joe” Smiddy.
The event is presented by the Cove Ridge Center Foundation and will be held at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, VA. This annual gathering seeks to promote the musical heritage of the area’s Appalachian mountain culture and also honors the tireless work of “Papa Joe”, who promoted the music of our region for many decades. In addition to being an accomplished old-time banjo player, entertainer, and educator, Smiddy was Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. This year’s performers will be Dr. Joe Smiddy & Reedy Creek, the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band and Old-Time Pride Band, featured headliner Carson Peters & Iron Mountain, and others. A new addition to this year’s proceedings will be a special 3pm afternoon performance featuring Miss Ellie String Band which is named in honor of Sue Ella Boatwright-Wells who was instrumental in starting the School of Mountain Music at Mountain Empire Community College. After a supper break at 5pm, the evening’s music will begin at 6pm. Radio personality Tom Taylor will serve as the emcee.
Dr. Joe Smiddy & Reedy Creek , have played together for more than four decades. Reflecting the broad musical tastes of Papa Joe, the band plays a variety of old-time music and original songs. Papa Joe started “Pickin’ in the Park”, the summer Sunday afternoon get-togethers at Natural Tunnel designed to encourage children and families to play music.
The ETSU Bluegrass and Old Time Pride Bands feature students enrolled in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program. Founded in 1982 it is the longest standing established program of its kind and aims to preserve the musical traditions rooted in Appalachian culture, while at the same time encouraging creativity among its students. Students from all over the world come to ETSU to study in the program and to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of our region.
Carson Peters & Iron Mountain have entertained audiences performing old time, bluegrass, and gospel music. Carson started playing the fiddle at the ripe old age of 3 when his parents bought him a 1/8 size fiddle. At 13 years old, Carson is a seasoned performer playing numerous venues with his new band throughout the region. Carson has also had the honor of playing on national TV as a guest on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey, as well as play with Jimmy Fortune on the floor of the Tennessee State Senate. On March 28, 2014, Carson’s dream of playing on the Grand Ole Opry stage was realized when he was invited by Ricky Skaggs to come perform with him and his band, Kentucky Thunder. In May of the same year, Carson was asked to make a reappearance at the Opry, but this time with his own band.
Festival-goers are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket. Food and drinks are welcome, but no alcohol is allowed on Natural Tunnel State Park property. All tickets are general admission and may be purchased for $10 in advance or $15 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. To purchase tickets by phone, call (276) 940-2674. Tickets are also available at Natural Tunnel State Park, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and Addington Oil in Weber City.
Proceeds from the festival go into the Cove Ridge Foundation’s Papa Joe Smiddy Scholarship Fund.
The Papa Joe Smiddy Mountain Music Festival is an official event of Duffield Daze and is an affiliated site on the Crooked Road.