Notorious for Bluegrass

Larry Smith photo

Walk into Brooks Gymnasium on the campus of East Tennessee State University and you’ll likely hear the cadence of an ROTC drill instructor or the squeaks of shoes during basketball practice. Read more


Nocturnal Drama Springs to Life

Casey Phillips/Tennessee Aquarium photo

Puddles seem uninteresting. Any body of water without fish seems barren and unimportant. Maybe there are some mosquito larvae or some unlucky tadpoles squirming around. Hopefully the tadpoles sprout legs before the water evaporates. Read more


Southern West Virginia

Michael E. Gouge photo

Mountaineers are always free, so says the state motto of West Virginia. Traveling past the farms and forested ridges of the southern half of The Mountain State, one can sense the independent spirit that still inspires artisans and adventurers alike. Read more


Rolling the Dice on a Walk in the Woods

Holly Kays photo

My sister and I were hiking a downhill section of Black Balsam—my favorite trail, a high-elevation loop featuring thickets of wild blueberries and grassy summits that offer to-die-for views of the surrounding Blue Ridge—when my foot caught on a rock. Read more


Dwight Yoakam’s grandmother kept her bacon grease in a small brown ceramic pitcher. She kept her flour, already sifted, in a big green porcelain pan that, when she wasn’t using it, sat in the bottom of an old, wooden Hoosier cabinet in her kitchen. Read more


‘Daydreams’ Become Classic Stories for Young Adults

Jenni Chandler Photography

Author Megan Shepherd has created worlds filled with fantastical and otherworldly characters by seeking inspiration from horror tales of an earlier age. Read more


Preserving Appalachia

KC Wildmoon

I’m a lover of history, of the mountains, of the ridges and valleys of Appalachia where I spent my first 18 years. So a trip to the Museum of Appalachia to write about its 50th anniversary, well, that was just right up my alley. Read more


For documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, the stories he chooses to illuminate help explain the history of America. Few can better tell that multifaceted tale than Burns, whose palette birthed the seminal documentary The Civil War in 1990. Read more


When you find yourself in the presence of Marty Stuart, you find yourself in the presence of the entire living, breathing, history of country and bluegrass music. Read more


Stack ‘Em Up and Eat ‘Em

Jill Sauceman photo

Stack cake is the ultimate mountaineers’ dessert—a not too sweet, but satisfying and completely flavored dessert made of 4-6 thin layers of molasses-tinged, biscuit-like cake covered with a dark, rich dried apple puree. Read more


Dom Flemons_CREDIT Timothy Duffy.jpg

Photo by Timothy Duffy

Flemons is a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010. Read more



South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism photo

What’s sweet, drips with juice, has a creamy texture somewhat like a mango, is harder than a banana but softer than an apple, and is “like kissing your Gramma’s cheek”? Read more


The local paper did a full page spread on my dad’s retirement. “The end of an era,” the paper called it. But it was really just the beginning of the end. Read more


Make it Merlefest

Money Combs photo


Cumberland Gap—that fabled portal through the Appalachian Mountain barrier—was the passage through which arose America’s great westward movement. A quarter of a million westering settlers and more passed through that notch beginning in 1775. Read more


Theater artist Kevin Hardesty portrays Kentucky’s most famous character in “Daniel Boone: The First Kentuckian.” Read more


In late spring 1769, Daniel Boone, America’s pioneer hero, made his first excursion through the Cumberland Gap into the storied land of “ken-te-ke,” setting in motion America’s eventual westward movement. Read more


Daniel Boone Crosses the Cumberland Gap

Courtesy of The State Historical Society of Missouri

As Franklin, Jefferson and Washington were enshrined as founders of the American Republic and exemplars of man in civil society, their contemporary Daniel Boone won fame at the beginning of the westward movement as a man in a state of nature. Read more