- [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, The Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," we explore the National Museum of African American Music, then step back in time at Cole's Country Store in Baxter. Ed Jones meets a cutting edge wood artist in Nashville and Will Pedigo goes shopping at the Boone Street Market up in Jonesborough. Hi, everyone, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to "Tennessee Crossroads". In the heart of Downtown Nashville sits the legacy of black music in America. The new National Museum of African American Music is now open for visitors. And as Laura Faber shows us, it tells the story of where the music you love today likely got its start. - [Laura] Music has always drawn people to Tennessee, from the neon lit honky-tonks in Nashville, the gospel, blues, and jazz in Memphis, to bluegrass in the hills of east Tennessee. But now, with the cut of a ribbon in January 2021, Tennessee is officially home to the world's first and only museum devoted to African American music. And it sits at Fifth + Broadway in Nashville. - This is an idea whose arrival is long overdue. I think that a lot of musicians and historians have recognized that the African American music is fundamental to American identity, but it's taken 20 years to bring it to fruition. - [Laura] Curator, Dr. Steven Lewis says the museum celebrates the role black Americans played in shaping American music. And the flow of the physical layout of the museum is significant. - The river concept comes from the Langston Hughes poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and so what we've done is kind of organized the museum around the central corridor, which like you said, we call the Rivers of Rhythm corridor as a way of number one, emphasizing the fluidity and the kind of hybridity of different musical traditions. And also showing that all of these different styles of music are kind of traditions that flow out of a common core. We have our various galleries that kind of branch off. We have the Wade in the Water gallery, which tells a story of African American religious music, Crossroads gallery, which tells the story of the blues, Love Supreme gallery telling the story of jazz, the One Nation Under a Groove gallery, which tells a story of rhythm and blues. And then finally we have The Message, which tells the story of hip hop. - We tell a chronological historical story of how American music developed and evolved. So it's not a hall of fame. It's not focused on a particular artist. It really kind of walks us through American history and sort of what has been that soundtrack of the development of our country. - [Laura] President and CEO, Henry Hicks III believes the museum embraces the full definition of Music City and says Nashville is the perfect place for it. - We're Music City for a reason. I think the state's tourism slogan is in fact, the soundtrack of America's "Made in Tennessee". And that is actually somewhat historically accurate. If you think about the rich tradition of the blues over in the western part of the state, and you think about the development and evolution of country music and even bluegrass music in the eastern part of the state, and then certainly gospel, religious music, R&B and soul in the middle part of the state here where we are in Nashville, you realize that that stuff was not an accident. It was because of that great migration that this culture became so rich with music in this particular state. And then evidence of that is the Fisk Jubilee Singers who certainly helped to bail out Fisk University in its early years. They also were the first singing group in this country to ever go on world tour, regardless of genre, regardless of race. - Within these 56,000 square feet, it does what no other museum does, displays how black artists have fundamentally shaped American music over the past 400 years. For example, young British musicians in the '60s were listening to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Motown. And this banjo from West Africa influenced instruments used in country music. Dr. Lewis, so this is one of your favorite exhibits. - Exactly. - And why? - Exactly. So this is a replica of a late 18th century banjo. It's made out of a gourd and you see the head is made out of goat skin, and we have kind of a wood plank here that serves as the neck. The reason why I like this banjo and this whole display case is that it really illustrates the way the banjo is kind of descended from these earlier instruments that come out of West and Central Africa, right? - [Laura] There are hundreds of other artifacts like a gown worn by Whitney Houston, one of Ella Fitzgerald's Grammy Awards, B.B. King's Lucille, and a robe and wig from George Clinton. They all help represent 50 genres and styles of music. - And so we're really honored to have this here. - [Laura] But it's the interactivity of the museum that allows you to dive into the music from a larger than life, Prince "Purple Rain" performance, singing with Bobby Jones and his gospel choir... ♪ Every day ♪ - ... to laying down a hip hop track in a studio, you can actually take home all of it and more. For instance, everyone who visits the museum gets this bracelet, which allows them to create their own personal playlist of any of the songs that they hear while visiting. For instance, I've chosen Sly and the Family Stone. I wanna save those three songs and I do it by swiping the bracelet and then I download it all later once I'm at home. - [Steven] My first hope is that it brings people together. So much of the narrative that we see is that we're different. And what I hope this story tells is that we're not that different. We all love music. And I hope that people come away seeing that and willing to hug somebody, talk to somebody that maybe they wouldn't have been before they came into this museum. - [Laura] And now, the legacy of the music we love is preserved forever in the Heart of Music City. - Thanks, Laura. Well, next, a survival story about a little 119-year-old family business in Putnam County, a country store to be exact. It was built by Marcia Cole Huffman's great, great grandfather. And it had a date with the wrecking crew before Marcia came to the rescue. Now it's been restored to its former glory, and then some. Our destination is on the Old Highway 70 North, somewhere between Cookeville and Chestnut Mountain. Pouring in a bag of peanuts into a Coca-Cola, that's a childhood memory of a country store. Now, a lot of people who come here to Baxter and Cole's Store, have a lot of memories of their own. Hmm, just like it was. - It is amazing how people love the store. - [Joe] Cole's Country Store has been in Marcia Cole Huffman's family since 1900. That's when her great, great grandfather, Dr. Philander Cole built it and became the first of three generations to run it. Later on, several other individuals leased it. But eventually the old store was abandoned for about 20 years. Then, in early 2017, Marcia heard some disturbing news. - Do you know they're going to tear down the store? Do you know that the stores up for sale? It's up for sale for the back taxes. Bottom line, I bought the store 10 minutes before the auction and I have since had two people tell me that they were going to buy it and tear it down. - [Joe] So the retired computer scientist was on her way to a new career as a store owner. - When you walked in that front door, the floor had sunk like eight to 12 inches. We had to have new electricity, new water, new... Just lots of things. But my sisters came in and said, "Whoa, it looks just like it did years ago? What did you do?" And I'm going, "That's the whole point." - [Joe] The next question was what to do with it? For a while she and her sisters opened on weekends to sell bologna sandwiches and ice cream. Then one day Tish Herald stopped by with an idea. - I made a proposal to come and open it as a meat-and-three. - As soon as I found out that her grandparents had run those two country stores and I knew her parents, I just... It was a godsend. She is a godsend, that's what she is. - [Joe] Soon Tish was using a makeshift kitchen back in the corner to turn out tantalizing meat-and-three dishes, five days a week. - [Marcia] It is Tish's store. I mean, I own the building and I come in and visit, but she cooks, she manages the store, she does everything. - [Tish] Today, we have chicken casserole, meatloaf, ham, turkey, pinto beans, green beans, cabbage, fried apples, carrots, macaroni and cheese and stewed pears, peach cobbler, strawberry pie, and coconut cake. - [Joe] Customers can't get enough of Tish's cornbread, which starts with a hot skillet and peanut oil. - It's another secret, you can use peanut oil. We warm the oil before we pour in the cornbread. - [Joe] And it comes out soft and velvety on top with a little crunch on the bottom. As a special touch, the ladies wear waitress dresses for the 1930s, along with cowboy boots. People not only come in to eat, many have brought in things to compliment the decor. One visitor brought this long 160-year-old farmhouse table. Another one came in with a decades old, original store sign. - Our friends and customers bring things in. It's like a museum now. People come in, and... We do have a few antiques for sale, but mostly it's just community... It's a community museum, if you will. - Well, I appreciate you opening this place up. - Well, I just couldn't see it being torn down. People come in every day and they talk about how they love the store and how they grew up here and how they'd go to their grandmother's house and they couldn't wait to come by and get a piece of candy or ice cream or... I mean, I never expected this. - [Joe] For now Marcia divides her time between Huntsville, where she used to work and her childhood home, where she's proudly revived a Cole family tradition. - Here you go, sir. - [Diner] Oh, thank you, ma'am. - You're very welcome. - I had a friend, she's a college friend, and she said, "Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?" So she came down and spent a day and she said, "I know why you're doing it. Everyone is happy." I mean, that is the thing, when people come to this store, they're happy. And we want you to leave here happy. We want you to have plenty of food. If you don't get enough, tell us, and we'll give you more, so... - And then Marcia had to close the store during the COVID pandemic, but it's back in business, and according to her, better than ever. You know, building tables seems like a pretty straightforward process. A factory can turn out thousands of them every day. Well, Ed Jones recently met a North Dakota native who doesn't make your typical table. His methods are different too. They involve a lot of sawdust and a little whiskey. - [Ed] Donny Fallgatter's story began like many in Nashville. - Moved here in 2002 to do music. - [Ed] And like many in Nashville, he found the need to supplement his income. Thankfully, Donny's a man of many talents and had skills to fall back on. - My dad has a shop in North Dakota. And so I would weld with him, not a lot of woodworking, until a few years ago. - [Ed] That's when the necessity became the mother of invention. Actually it was his wife's necessity. You see, she wanted a table. - [Donny] The wife wanted this really simple end table that was a 1,000 bucks. And it was a chunk of wood on some hairpin leg. - [Ed] Donny had misgivings about the impending purchase. - I said, "Hell no." I go out to chop a piece of wood down and put on hairpins for you. And so we did that. We put it on Instagram, just that I made her this table. And that's kinda how it started. I just really became enthralled with woodworking. My favorite part of the woodworking, I think is just doing something with my hands and getting a creative outlet that's also my livelihood. - [Ed] Donny soon discovered that his newfound passion had something in common with his music. - Kinda mirrored songwriting for me. It's taking something and making it into something that it wasn't before, or starting with a blank page and all of a sudden you have this cool masterpiece and then you don't want to let it go, which has been the hard part. So usually I'll make something, it's all custom order, so it all has to go. - [Ed] And when Donny needs a new palette for his next custom-made masterpiece, he doesn't just run down to the lumberyard. The process is much more personal. He uses reclaimed lumber or downed trees. He's searching for more than a piece of wood. He wants a piece of history. - I just love finding something that has history, like say this, the biggest sugar maple in Tennessee, that someone's gonna have that in their hotel or in their house and they'll never not have a story sitting around it. It's not like, "Oh yeah, we got that slab from a guy." It's gonna be like, "Oh, it was the biggest sugar maple in all of Tennessee." 'Cause it's such a cool place to gather around a dining table. And if the dining table can actually be some kind of speak piece like that, where, "Oh, speaking of while we're all here, you're all sitting around a piece of history." I just would love everything to be that, or at least an heirloom, not that it has to be a piece from a tree that was in your yard. But something that's built well has a story, so you wanna pass it down to your kids. - [Ed] The style of table can also make it a conversation piece. Take for instance, this current craze. - Right now, people love the river tables or just epoxy in it if it's not a river table. People used epoxy for a long time just to fill knot holes or little voids in the wood. Now people love having half the table epoxy. And we might get to where we're just doing an epoxy top with certain things inlaid. - [Ed] But Donny's obsession is more organic and he's pretty picky about the wood he uses. - So this maple I got from a buddy, I think outta Michigan. It's gonna have some crazy curl. You've seen like the backs of acoustic guitars that have all that curl in it. So this whole thing's gonna be that, but pretty piece. I save all of this barn wood, 'cause this barn oak is kinda what started Sawdust & Whiskey. It was interior wall pieces, so it's in great shape. And a lot of it still has, you can see all that bark on it. This walnut slab, some people had cut down after a storm and we're letting that air dry, but there's a lot of walnut trees here. And if a storm ever brings one down and someone says, "Hey, can you come get this walnut tree?" Dang right. - [Ed] Donny does most of the work himself. But, as you can tell, some of these pieces make it impossible to be a one-man band. - [Donny] I have a few friends, musician buddies that when they have some down time, they'll come hang out in the shop. And so, yeah, a lot of it's me, but friends have helped out through a lot of projects. - [Ed] And after a hard day's work, those friends can develop quite a thirst, which is what led to the company name. - We didn't have a name for it. I was just branding everything with an F for my last name. And we're like, "Well, we should do something else. And we found ourselves after finishing like a neat piece and delivering it, we'd try a different whiskey. So we just said, "Hey, let's call it Sawdust & Whiskey." We toast and try a different whiskey after we finish a piece that we're proud of. To the end of a good work day. - [Ed] As he looks toward the future, Donny uses the lessons of his musical past as a compass for his business. - It's such a huge spectrum, you're either crazy broke, it seems like, or you're making a ton of money. There's not like a lot of middle ground in the life of a musician. For the future of Sawdust & Whiskey, I would love to help all my buddies too, that just need a few hours a week to pay their rent or whatever, have a big enough operation where we could just help as many people as possible. Sawdust & Whiskey. - Thank you, Ed. Next up we joined Will Pedigo as he visits a gas station that was converted into a community owned store in Jonesborough. Nowadays, the Boone Street Market supports local farmers and food producers, while being part of the farm-to-table movement of upper east Tennessee. - [Matt] The simplicity of farming your own land, growing your own food, possibly selling some to make a living, is just a beautiful thought. - [Will] Matt Dobson is making a go of running a small family farm in Telford, Tennessee. But after two years he's learned firsthand it's not easy. - Well, I thought that moving back to Tennessee and transitioning into agriculture would be a more simpler life. It's a more sustainable life, but when you tackle any set of issues, it's not simple. Family farming is quite difficult. - [Will] Finding success means overcoming all the traditional barriers, startup costs, trial and error, understanding the plant and animal science and balancing factors outside of your control like weather. But even if you make it to a finished product, the work isn't done. - Farmers in general are so focused on what they're growing, how they're growing it, their practices, it's hard to think about what you're gonna do with it when you have it. And the end result is to make a bit of profits. It's hard to focus on that and to make the homestead or the family farm work. - [Will] In neighboring Jonesborough, Tennessee, Matt Dobson found he was not alone. - [Matt] Jonesborough's a awesome community. The word community gets thrown around a lot just as a synonym for town or city, but it's really... It's rare these days. - [Will] The community of Jonesborough took an organized approach to supporting their local farms and farmers when they created a nonprofit called Jonesborough Locally Grown. Matt Dobson jumped on board and witnessed the nonprofit grow from hosting a seasonal Farmers Market to local farm-to-table dinners. And in October of 2014, opening the Boone Street Market in downtown Jonesborough. - The Boone Street Market only sells food produced or grown within 100 miles of Jonesborough. If you come to the Boone Street Market, you are directly affecting your neighbor and you're helping them pay their bills by consuming their product. We'll never be a one-stop shop. We're small and we know that. We just want you to come to us first and see what we have, see what you can buy local, then go on about your grocery shopping habits. And we understand that, but we've tried to be as diverse with our product offerings as possible. And that comes from the diversity of the food ideas in our region. So, for the most part, we are fruit and vegetable heavy, which is great, 'cause that's the way the diet should be. But we offer as broad a spectrum as we can. The greatest component of my job through my eyes, is education. It's very important for us, Jonesborough Locally Grown and Boone Street Market, to know where all the food comes from. We have visited the farms. We have talked to the farmers and learned their growing practices, where they do it and what they're doing. We have a map on the wall right now that has a radius of 100 miles from Jonesborough. There's red pins that represent farms. And there's black pins that represent food producers. So it's a story that we can tell. And it's a story that the customer can relate to. - Everything sold in the Boone Street Market comes from within a 100 mile radius. Matt Dobson on the other hand, came from another part of the world doing something that was anything but sustainable. - [Matt] I was a golf course superintendent for 16 years. One of my last jobs in the golf business was in Dubai, building golf courses in the middle of the desert. These weren't just golf courses. They were really a marble of plant science. We took a 1,000 acres of desert and transformed it into championship golf courses using lots of water, lots of sands, lots of resources. - [Will] Give us one example. What was the most unsustainable thing you did over there in that golf course? - Well, the courses in Dubai, for example, used a bunker sand that was shipped from North Carolina. We shipped sand from the US to a place that's made of sand for the playability of the bunker. Some good things came out of that. It's an excellent project, but it changed me personally and professionally and led me to leave the game of golf and transition into small agriculture. - [Will] Which is harder work, building a championship golf course in the middle of the desert in Dubai or running a small family farm in upper east Tennessee? - They're both extremely difficult. Being profitable with a small family farm is harder. - [Will] With the Boone Street Market, Matt Dobson and Jonesborough Locally Grown hope to make running a farm a little easier on farmers and their products, a little more accessible for everyone. - This market gives me a little bit of hope for small family farms. Every community that cares about their neighbors needs one of these. And it's not a lot of startup if the town's invested in the idea, they can be a huge asset and there's farms all over the State of Tennessee and farmers will always need a place to sell product. Consumers will always need to eat. And if we can keep our doors open, farmers will always have an outlet to sell their product that they worked hard on and the community will always have access to healthy local food. - Well, I'm afraid that wraps up another edition of "Tennessee Crossroads". Thanks for watching. Please examine our website when you get a chance, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook and we'll see you next week. - [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, The Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org.
July 08, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 02
Laura Faber tours the National Museum of African American Music. Joe Elmore explores a 119-year-old country store in Putnam County, now r Ed Jones meets a custom table artist. Will Pedigo visits a gas station that was converted into a community owned store in Jonesborough, TN. Presented by Nashville Public Television.