Signal Mountain Opry

       In my travels, I always try to find a  good jam session.  When I stopped at the Mountain Music Folk School they said to go back towards Chattanooga and turn right on Signal Mountain Road.  Then go past the Fire station and hang on right in Fairmont; you can’t miss it.

        About the time I thought we were lost we came up on a parking lot jammed with cars and a building that looked like an old church that had been converted to a music barn.

        We walked in.  I asked the man at the soundboard if it was a stage show only or if it was O.K. to jam. 

        “See that American flag hanging there?” he asked.

       “Yeah.”

        “The first door past that is the bathroom.  Go to the next room on the left; they’ll be jamming in there.”

         “O.K. for strangers to join in?”

        “Sure.”

         I walked past the stage.  The fiddler nodded to acknowledge me as a newcomer and motioned towards the jam room.  No one had the mandolin covered so I got mine out.  A teen-aged girl with a powerful voice sang some old time country.  A fellow wailed out ‘Sweetheart of Mine Can’t You Hear Me Calling.’  A lady guitar player covered the tenor, so I took the baritone; it made for a tight trio.  Some young man named Chris Rutherford played an excellent Scruggs style banjo.

        Most of the group went out to play and the teenagers (and me) were left behind, and I played on with them.  The girl singer had a fine voice.  When she did Ron Block’s ‘Living Prayer,’ I stood up, walked over her way and did some mandolin back up.  An older gentleman in the corner came over to listen.  “She’s on next.  Will you help her out?”

        “Sure.”

         We went through a couple of numbers and with no more rehearsal than that we were on the stage.  She did ‘Wayfaring Stanger’ and “Delta Dawn.”  She turned and asked if she should do ‘Hotel California.’ 

        “It’s not exactly bluegrass,” she said. 

        “Sure kid.  Play whatever you want.  I’ll follow you.” 

        We did the Eagles tune then closed with ‘Living Prayer’ we had worked up backstage.  I liked this young lady’s voice; strong, good emotion, right on pitch; easy to follow with a harmony line.  For fifteen minutes of rehearsal I thought we did pretty good.

         “What’s your name, kid?”

         “Megan Davis.”

           “Hm.  Seems like everyone I know named Megan can sing.  Do you know Megan Peeler in Nashville?”

         “No sir.”

        “She’s about ten years older than you.  She’s setting it on fire.  I’d keep a lookout for her work.”

        “I will.”

        We exchanged cards and e-mail.  She’s a myspace young’un and I am on FaceBook (I called it MyFace) I had to admit I had no idea how to text anyone on the planet, but I promised to get back up with her for a book store gig if I ever got my book placed in Chattanooga.

         I’ve got a notion I haven’t played my last gig at the Mountain Opry.  They all asked me to come back, and directed me to a table with all sorts of fliers for regional events.  Like N.C., Tennessee is strong bluegrass country, and these were fine bluegrass folks; friendly and hospitable.  I was glad I found the Mountain Opry.  It is a must for a mandolin guy wandering through Chattanooga area.

Dr. B

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16 Comments on “Signal Mountain Opry”


  1. [...] Business News put an intriguing blog post on Signal Mountain OpryHere’s a quick excerptAbout the time I thought we were lost we came up on a parking lot jammed with cars and a building that looked like an old… [...]

  2. newt221 Says:

    I love to hear about your adventures. You never meet a stranger. That is a wonderful way to be. It makes for finding friends where ever you go and you are never without “backup” so to speak.


  3. [...] Women On Business placed an interesting blog post on Signal Mountain OpryHere’s a brief overviewWe exchanged cards and e-mail.  She’s a myspace young’un and I am on FaceBook (I called it MyFace) I had to admit I had… [...]


  4. [...] Gypsy Camp Blog added an interesting post on Signal Mountain OpryHere’s a small excerpt…time country.  A fellow was wailing out ‘Sweetheart of Mine Can’t You Hear Me Calling.’  A lady guitar player covered the tenor, so I… [...]

  5. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Sounds like you had a great time. Good idea to get out of North Carolina.

  6. drtombibey Says:

    newt 221,

    Where there is bluegrass music I will always find my people.

    My Lit agent has about decided I can find my way from one town to the next with my mandolin, and that this is shaping up to be the world’s most unconventional book tour.

    Dr. B

  7. drtombibey Says:

    Ted,

    As much as we love Tennessee (Marfar got her EdD there) I was also glad to get back home to N.C.

    Dr. B

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Note: I think some of these are coming in off FaceBook (or MyFace as Doc says!)

    Dr. B

  9. Megan Davis Says:

    TOM!!!
    wow
    thankyou so much
    I cant wait to meet up with you again
    usually those folks out there cant pick my voice up
    i stay in b
    lol
    most of the time
    thanks so much
    – Megan

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Miss Megan,

    So far every Megan I ever met was a fine singer. My wife was in the audience and she agreed you were wonderful. Y’all were all very kind and we really enjoyed the Mountain Opry. We’ll back someday.

    Like all the old people say, and it is good advice, study hard. But you keep on singing too. My friend Megan Peeler is making a go of it in Nashville. She got a four year degree at App in music therapy before she hit the road. I think he is handling her career the right way.

    Best of luck to you kid, and see you down the bluegrass road. I enjoyed playing and singing with you.

    Dr. B

  11. Megan Peeler Says:

    Hey Dr. B,
    Thanks for the shout-out! :)

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Megan,

    You are a young’un who is a role model for the extra young folks.

    If you do a show in the Chattanooga area let me know and I’ll drop little Megan Davis an e-mail. I know she’d love to hear you sing.

    Dr. B

  13. chris rutherford Says:

    hey tom thanks for the comment on my banjo picken i dont thank im a excellent banjo picker but thanks.i live on signal mnt so if you come back email me let me know and il try to be there il make megan come to

    • drtombibey Says:

      Chris,

      As it turns out, I’m gonna be there on a book tour Friday July 30th. You and Megan and all the young’uns gather ’round the mic, ’cause old Doc’d love to pick with all of you again.

      Dr. B

  14. judie moyer Says:

    ditto to it all. mountain opry is a must do when we visit in georgia nearly every spring. what an array of talents and charters. we’ve been stopping by for nearly twenty years now, thanks to my alabama brother-in-law – bless his heart. we have just sent some neighbors your way i’m sure they will be pleased. p.s. we have even brought along some georgia locals for their first and second visit. thanks so much for your entertainment.
    toots, judie


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