There are deep roots for mountain music, or bluegrass, in Appalachia, East Tennessee and Union County. Many local folks have a passion for the music and the customs it entails. It is a tradition that passes down through generations to our youths.
Tumblin’ Run is a local band that is carrying on the mountain tradition. Members Zeke Flatford (age 20), Lyndon Kitts (20), Tucker Jones (16), and Trey Farley (18) all have a keenness for keeping the tradition alive and bringing the old-time melodies to their audiences.
Seeing “The Cradle of Country Music” on the banner of the newspaper made me think of my own tastes in music. I am not a musician. I couldn’t play chopsticks on a kid’s toy piano if someone had a gun to my head, but I know what I like to hear. I do enjoy country artists like Dolly Parton, the Oak Ridge Boys, or the Statlers. I also like some of the ‘good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll of four or five decades ago, but what I really like are instrumentals, specifically instrumental soundtracks.
It begins on the night of Saturday, April 20, 2019 in the Union County High School Auditorium when the announcer introduces the Union County Opry Band to play a musical tribute to entertainers that have come from Union County including Lois Johnson, Carl Smith, Chet Atkins, Roy Acuff and Jim Wyrick. “The good Lord above has poured out a special bucket of talent on Union County,” said Danny Cooke.
Maynardville is now home to The Union County Opry. Known as the Cradle of County Music, Union County is noted for its musical heritage; four of its sons are now known throughout the world–Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Carl Smith, and Kenny Chesney. Lois Johnson, Hilda Kitts Harrill, and Melba Kitts Greene are among its best known women entertainers (https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/union-county/).
The fiddler has played his last tune for the night, but Bitt Rouse will not soon be forgotten. Most people would not know of whom you were speaking when you mentioned Palmer Stiner Rouse, because nearly all his life he was known by his nickname. My sister, Dorothy Kitts, had him as a 5th grade student at the old Rush Strong School in Lead Mine Bend. Then he was called “Bitty” Rouse because he was so small for his age, but he grew to quite a tall man. The nickname was shortened to “Bitt.”