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Driving down Interstate 26 last weekend, my mind resonated with everything I had ever heard (or learned) about Unicoi County and the town of Erwin.

Of course, there’s the incredible scenery…where you can see the ghosted peaks of the Unaka Mountain Range separating Tennessee and North Carolina. There’s the “Grand Canyon of the East,” a vastly deep gorge carved by thousands of years worth of flowing waters from the Nolichucky River. There’s that good old story of “Murderous Mary,” the crazed elephant that was hung from a railroad derrick…

And I wandered through every recollection I’d ever had about this place, there was one thing I just couldn’t seem to figure out: “What the heck is so special about apples anyway?” Read the rest of this entry »


We’ve all heard stories about mobsters during the Prohibition era, about bootlegging, speakeasies, and rings of organized crime. And from those stories, no figure is more notorious than Chicago’s Al Capone.

But here’s what you may not have heard: in those days, Chicago wasn’t the only center of vice in the United States. In fact, one little town in Northeast Tennessee was gaining plenty of notoriety for debauchery.

And that little town—was our very own Johnson City.

Read the rest of this entry »

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You’ve probably heard a lot about the Sunny Side Trail recently. And you’ve no doubt heard the song that made the Carter Family famous.

And if you live in Northeast Tennessee (or have spent any time here at all), you know that a good, wholesome, positive outlook is what we’re all about.

But “The Sunny Side” mentality has been around for more than a hundred years, and once you hear this story, you’ll be truly inspired by where it came from.

It all started in 1899, with a young lady named Ada Blenkhorn. Back then, the “Sunny Side” theme was pretty common. In fact, just a few years before, George C. Stebbins had penned a song called “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

Keep on the sunny side, Keep on the sunny side. With Jesus near, Why should we fear? Let us keep on the sunny side.

But for Ada, the idea went well beyond the Sunday-school classroom. That’s because, at that point in her life, Ada was given the task of caring for an invalid nephew who was confined to a wheelchair. Naturally, there’s a certain amount of pity she took for his predicament.

But the boy, himself, was different.

He never felt sorry for himself. He never complained about his crippling disability.

His only request was that his wheelchair be pushed down the “Sunny Side” of the street.

It was his sanctuary, his release. It was his one moment to forget about the pain and discomfort, and simply soak up the glory of nature’s blessing.

Ada was inspired.

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life. There’s a bright and a sunny side, too. Though we meet with the darkness and strife, the sunny side we also may view.

Keep on the Sunny Side, always on the Sunny Side. Keep on the Sunny Side of Life. It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we keep on the Sunny Side of Life.

Funny how a century-old song can still help us maintain a little perspective…

So many things to do this weekend! The Covered Bridge celebration in Elizabethton, the Blue Plum festival in Johnson City, The Celtic Renaissance Fair in Rogersville…the 1st Annual Vietnam Veterans Homecoming at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray…and tonight…Music on the Square in Jonesborough…Bluegrass on Broad in Kingsport and the Border Bash in Bristol! Come join in the fun.

Celtic Renaissance Fair

Blue Plum Festival

Around Johnson City, everyone loves the month of June. Warm weather, tons of outdoor activities, and most of all, The Blue Plum Festival. Anyone around here will tell you: Blue Plum is as good a community festival as you’ll find in these parts…and there’s a ton of history behind it too!

For starters, “Blue Plum” was the original name given to the community where Johnson City now sits. And just as Johnson City has done over the years, The Blue Plum Festival continues to grow every year.

It started with music, and now features a host of local, regional, and national musical acts, as well as an animation festival, a 5k run, a cornhole tournament, art exhibits, a bicycle race, and much more. And if you’ve never seen 70,000 people flood Main Street in Johnson City, it’s truly a sight to behold! Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve seen Willie Nelson twice in my life…both unforgettable shows. If you’ve never seen him live, then I really can’t imagine anything better that you could do with your Tuesday night!

January 26
Viking Hall in Bristol

ps. We all know Willie for this:

But did you know he also wrote this:

Anyway, See you Tuesday night at Viking Hall!

Sunny on Twitter

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