JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – If you’re in downtown Johnson City Saturday – you’re going to hear some Appalachian music from the past.
The city is celebrating Johnson City’s imprint on the music world through “Tell it to Me,” the Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary.
Musicians from five states traveled to Johnson City 90 years ago to show their talents to the Columbia Records Label after they set up a temporary studio downtown.
Music created in Johnson City was then heard across the country.
ETSU Appalachian Studies Professor Ted Olson said Columbia Records set up in an office building downtown to hear some of the best Appalachian music performers of the time.
“Country music of that era, but also included old time music, gospel music, blues, string band music,” Professor Olson said.
The office building is no longer there, but the State of Tennessee placed a commemorative sign at the corner of East Main Street and Colonial Way in 2013 – right next to WJHL-TV.
“The Johnson City sessions are proving very influential upon the younger generation of people emerging right now,” Professor Olson said.
The ETSU AllStar Oldtime Band is practicing for their Saturday performance at the Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary.
“Music was really starting to be recognized more broadly and it’s brought us all together in lot of ways being able to listen to different kinds of music,” Amythyst Kiah with the band said.
It’s a day-long and free celebration the city hopes everyone will enjoy.
“Live music from the main stage all day, we’ve got a record fair going on for a good part of the day, arts and craft vendors that all have a musical tie,” Jenna Moore with the Johnson City Sessions Anniversary Event Committee said.
It’s a festival that celebrates Johnson City’s role in Appalachian music history.
“Johnson City sessions are extremely important less for discovering artists and more for making great records,” Professor Olson said.
Professor Olson said Bob Dylan based two of his original songs on a song recorded in Johnson City in 1929.