Bullet Backstory – Steve Horton

Image via Bill Foster Photography – billfosterphotos.com

Bullet Backstory is a new series we’ve started here on the WDVX blog. It shares bullet point facts to provide some backstory about a person in his or her own words. For this edition of “Bullet Backstory” we sat down with Steve Horton, founder of the Bob Dylan’s Birthday Bash.

  • When did the Birthday Bash become a fundraiser for WDVX? Bob Dylan’s Birthday Bash hooked up with WDVX in 2009, the fifth year of the event.  I spoke with Roger Harb and asked if the station might be interested.  He talked with Tony Lawson and they agreed to move forward.
  • What made you want to get involved with the radio station? Why do you like supporting it? WDVX is the only station in the area that explores roots music…folk, bluegrass, blues, Americana.  They are unique.
  • What are your biggest musical influences? I was lit up by “folk music.”  As a friend of mine says, “the folk scare” of the sixties made me aware of music beyond the Perry Como and Tennessee Ernie Ford albums my parents listened to. Folk music introduced me to blues, bluegrass, mountain music, Cajun…the core of what makes up Americana today.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? 
    Practice? Sure. But don’t forget to have Fun! And listen to Everything!
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? Go out and hear live music.  if you can’t stay out late, there’s always the Blue Plate Special at lunchtime.
  • What’s different about this year’s Bash? They are the youngest artists we’ve had in the lineup.  I think they’re 14.  Getting young artists involved has been a consideration from the beginning.  At the first Dylan’s BD Bash in 2007 at the Laurel Theater, Dana Paul brought his sons with him…the youngest was 18.  At the second Dylan’s Bash at the ET History Center, my son, Will played with Cooper Hardison when they were both 17.  And the Black Cadillacs played the 3rd Bash, also at the History Center.
  • Any last words about the Bob Dylan’s Birthday Bash?  It’s Friday, it’s Free! And it’s a Great Party!


An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – Reagan Boggs

Reagan Boggs recently stopped by the Blue Plate stage and shared some tunes from her new album, including this one…the title track from “Empty Glasses.” She feels that the music on Empty Glasses reflects her diverse musical stylings.

When people ask me what kind of music I do, I draw a blank – because I have such a hard time with that. I can’t seem to classify it. It’s very country based, with some other influences running through it. I just love music….of all kinds.”

Reagan lists artists such as Jason Isbell, Patty Loveless, Ryan Adams and Patty Griffin among her influences. She says that growing up in Pound, Virginia, where there was little to do and no cable, music was king – and that’s where she gained her biggest inspiration. Learn more about Reagan Boggs at http://reaganboggs.com/blog/home/

Backing Reagan on the Blue Plate stage are Hunter Deacon on drums, Vince Ilagan on bass, and Dave Coleman on guitar. Dave is also the producer on “Empty Glasses”.

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held at noon, Monday through Saturday, at the WDVX studio inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Come and play your part as an audience member in the radio show that’s popular worldwide! Listen live at http://wdvx.com/

A Song & A Sip – Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings



This Friday (May 6th), we’re excited to have Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings on the Blue Plate Special, along with Matt Kinman. You can come down to our studio in the Knoxville Visitors Center and watch the show or listen live on the radio or at http://wdvx.com/listen-live/.

They’ll also take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for Stomp on the Square, part of the Knoxville Stomp – the Festival of Lost Music happening May 5-8, 2016.

Band members of Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings profess to share a love of “antiquated pop tunes” such as those recorded in Knoxville in 1929 and 1930 and the reason for The Knoxville Stomp.

The band recently took on the challenge of recording their songs in the medium available in that bygone era and one that they feel does them justice: wax cylinder. While the songs may be old, they help tell the stories of an era most of us have never experienced. They might seem a little silly, but it’s important to remember that everything old was once new.

Roochie Toochie says they try to find the zaniest and most obscure songs from the early 20th century and record them for a new audience. Check out this tune, which is this week’s featured song.

You can visit http://roochie.com/videos/ for parts 2 & 3 of the tune.

In music, everything new gets old, but everything old eventually becomes new again. Same goes for food. You might think there’s nothing new about a fruit cup, but this week’s Sip begs to differ.

This is the latest in our blog series, A Song & A Sip, brought to you in part from our friends at Sugarlands Distilling Company. Each week, they share a great drink recipe as part of their #WhatToDrinkWednesday, and we thought it would be fun to pair the drinks with an amazing music performance.

Not only can you drink this week’s What to Drink Wednesday but you can eat it too! The Rye Pear Fizz makes a refreshing summer cocktail and a delicious adult fruit cup.

Rye Pear Fizz:

1.5 oz of Mark and Diggers Rye Apple
2 oz of Pear Juice
1.5 oz of Cranberry Juice
2 oz of Cava or Prosecco

Combine first 3 ingredients in mixing tin with ice. Strain into champagne flute and top with your choice of Cava or Prosecco. Garnish with pear spear. You can also pour this over your choice of mixed fruit to make adult fruit cups!

An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – Wild Ponies

Wild Ponies is Doug and Telisha Williams, now living in East Nashville (“The Knoxville side of Nashville”, according to Doug). Doug and Telisha are well known in Knoxville, and are veterans of the Blue Plate stage. When they visited recently, they treated the full house to some previews from their new album, “Radiant,” due to be released May 13, 2016. This tune from the new album, “The Night We Never Met”, was co-written with fellow Nashville artist and Grammy nominated songwriter Sally Barris. Helping Doug and Telisha on stage are Knoxville musicians Greg Horne on guitars and Nate Barrett on drums. Learn more about Wild Ponies at http://www.wildponies.net/

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held at noon, Monday through Saturday, at the WDVX studio inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Come and play your part as an audience member in the radio show that’s popular worldwide! Listen live at http://wdvx.com/

An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – Irene Kelly & Nate Lee

WDVX listeners are no strangers to Nashville singer-songwriter Irene Kelley, and the her fans packed the house when she joined us for “1st Friday Live”. In the spirit of “firsts” she treated the audience to a first time public performance of the title track from her upcoming album “These Hills”, which is scheduled for a summer 2016 release. We can’t wait to hear more!

Irene is joined on stage by 2015 IBMA Instrumentalist Of The Year Momentum Award winner Nate Lee.

WDVX 1st Friday Live is a free, live performance radio show held at 7 P.M. on the first Friday of each month at the WDVX studio inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Come and join us! You can always listen live at http://wdvx.com/

An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – The Cactus Blossoms “Change Your Ways or Die”

Brothers Jack and Page pick a scary one for the Blue Plate audience – a tune called “Change Your Ways Or Die” (The Buffalo Song) from their latest release, “You’re Dreaming”. By the way, if you think there is a family resemblance, you’re right! That’s their big brother Tyler on guitar.

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held at noon, Monday through Saturday, at the WDVX studio inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Come and play your part as an audience member in the radio show that’s popular worldwide! Listen live at http://wdvx.com/

Friday Flashback – Memories of Merlefest

Merlefest is going on now, through this weekend (April 30th & May 1st). WDVX is there, doing interviews and sessions with festival musicians. This is always a great event and one we look forward to throughout the year.

In honor of today’s Friday Flashback, we’re sharing some tunes from previous years at Merlefest, including Mike Farris, Larry Keel and Donna the Buffalo. We hope you enjoy!



An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – Eli Fox

Grenade Tossing Monkey? A good songwriter sees opportunity in everything! Based on a news article, Eli Fox performed what he described as “the weird one” from his debut album “Nothing to Say” for the Blue Plate Special audience as part of his CD release show. Helping him out on stage are Lewell Molen on bass guitar and Matt Ledbetter on resonator guitar. You can find out more about Eli and his new album at http://www.elifoxmusic.com/

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a live performance radio show held at noon, Monday through Saturday, at the WDVX studio inside the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. Come and play your part as an audience member in the radio show that’s popular worldwide! Listen live at http://wdvx.com/

#PeopleOfWDVX – Spotlight on Joe Bussard

Joe-BussardJoe Bussard is a collector. Specifically, he collects 78 rpms, but along the way over the past six and a half decades, he’s also collected his share of experiences and stories. He was gracious to do an interview with us in anticipation of the Knoxville Stomp.

Don’t miss An Evening with Joe Bussard, May 7th at 5 p.m. at Scruffy City Hall. He’ll be playing some things from the Box Set and hopes you’ll tune in or come down and listen. Joe is doing his show live from WDVX on Sunday, May 8th at 5 p.m. and you can listen in on 89.9 or WDVX.com. 

Joe says he got into collecting records 65 years ago. His family had a 1941 table model wind-up Victrola that belonged to his dad, and the neighbors used to stop by and bring records to play. First, he heard Gene Autry, the early stuff, and liked the way he sang. Then, he heard Jimmy Rogers, and that did it. He says he remembered thinking Rogers was ten times better than Gene Autry, and that’s probably where Gene got his inspiration.

When Joe was 14, he started his own radio station in the basement of his house, even selling commercials for “a dollar a holler,” which got advertisers a 60-second spot. Eventually he was selling 25 commercials a day, which he reminded us was a lot of money back then. He said there was “no carryin’ on or horseplay,” but he had “all kinds of fun with it.”

Joe started going around, asking people about records. One lady gave him a box, and in it he found two Jimmy Rogers, among other things. Some of what was in that first box he liked, and some he didn’t. But one thing led to another and he started going out when he was 16, door to door. He says that’s when he got his first stack of Carter family records.

Joe says that the records he’d find ran the gamut, including lots of junk and some good ones. It was typical for him to get two big peach baskets full of records for fifty cents.

On any given weekend, he might have gotten 400 to 500 records. On a week’s hunt, maybe a thousand. He said he’d take fifty bucks with him for the entire trip, and end up spending more on food than records. He noted that gas was about 17 cents a gallon, and for another fifty cents he could get a roast beef sandwich, mashed potatoes and a drink.

Joe’s first radio show (besides the ones he did on his home radio station) was on Mt. Jackson, VA-based WSIG in 1955. They gave him an hour for his Country Classics, and after the 3rd week, about a hundred pieces of mail had come in. Said Joe, “People used to respond more in those days. I’d get requests, but also invitations to come stay at folks’ houses, or to come for supper, even marriage proposals.”

Joe got another show, this time on WELD in West Virginia, after he contacted the station’s program director to tell him what he was playing was terrible. They hit it off and Joe calls him “the nicest guy he ever met.”

Joe spent 52 years on that station, both on the a.m. and f.m. channels. Over that time, he got hundreds of pieces of mail and made quite a name for himself. He even judged fiddle contests. Joe said his listeners continued to reach out, many offering him a hundred bucks if he’d attend their family reunions. He notes that it was during the Carter administration and there was a gas shortage, so he tried to err on the side of being safe instead of sorry. But as things often happen, that station was taken over by new leadership and changed to disco.

Joe also had a show on WNCW in Spindale, North Carolina for 18 years. He can still be heard on WPAQ in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. In fact, he says the Monday after Easter, he did an all day live show (seven hours of airtime).

He started broadcasting on WDVX around the same time as WREK in Atlanta, and he currently has a Sunday morning show on WHUS, a station affiliated with the University of Connecticut.

Joe says he’s never seen music so overrated as it is today. He said people get excited for nothing. He recounts a time that Steve Allen played a Jelly Roll Morton tune on his show and the audience went wild. According to Joe, Allen said “Oh gee, I didn’t know you liked it.” For the record, Joe named Jelly Roll as the greatest piano player that ever lived.

Joe believes that you can’t have a radio station without a format. And he’s seeing more and more younger people liking the old music than ever before. He recently had a 16-year old fellow from Raleigh come visit him, and just last week five people came to visit him, all in their twenties from as far as Georgia, and Utah.


According to Joe, there are lots of younger people collecting records too, but he says there aren’t enough records to go around. “The wind up Victrolas were the worst thing to play them on, and they ruined a lot of records,” he says.

Joe recently got a letter from a 15 year old who wanted to hear “Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground,” a Blind Willie Johnson record which he says is the greatest record ever made.

Joe also noted that a Blind Willie Johnson track was included on the Voyager Golden Record, and he hopes the “space aliens can fully appreciate it.”

On one hunting trip, he encountered a guy who had filled an old Chevrolet garage with records, and was selling them for 10 cents a piece. The dirty ones were free. There Joe found an Ernest Tubb bluebird, which he later sold to a museum in Nashville, which made the trip more than worth it.

Joe says that he always managed to end up in the right place at the right time. After taking a wrong turn looking for a flea market, he ended up picking up a hitchhiker and they got to talking about music. He told Joe he had a bunch of old records at his house if Joe wanted to come and see them. After driving 27 miles “into the sticks” Joe says he pulled a box out from under the bed with about four feet of dust on it. And inside was an Uncle Dave Macon, as well as Original Stack O’Lee Blues.

When he pulled out a Black Patti, Joe says his heart just about stopped. Then there were three more. Acording to Joe, Black Patti was a 1927 label named for a 19th century singer by the same nickname. Only 55 different discs were manufactured as the label ceased operations in the same year it started. So Joe says these are very rare.

Joe went on to say that musicians back then had fun making music. He believes that’s mostly gone, as it’s now done for money. He said that people who made old records got about $50 a side, which was a lot of money then, but they enjoyed what they were doing. They might have only earned $5 for playing at a bean stringing, a corn husking or a wedding.

He says it was a different world, with self taught musicians who, if they wanted music, had to play it themselves.

We asked Joe if he was still searching for records and collecting, and he said “Of course.” One record he’s still set his sights to find is by the Moore Family out of Nicholasville, Kentucky titled “Granny Will Your Dog Bite.” Considered a holy grail of sorts, no copies of this have ever been found. Another rare one that he’d love to come across is “Sally Johnson” by Rutherford and Foster, numbered 6913.

Joe Bussard says it’s a whole world out there that most people haven’t been part of. He has enjoyed it all, met some wonderful people, and he likes all kinds of stuff “as long as it’s good.”

With hunting records, he says you could go to a different house every night, and hear the greatest music you’ve ever heard. Said Joe, “they’re all gone, but the records are left. It’s exactly the way they did it. Every note’s the same.” He said record collecting gets under your skin, and he figures he’ll be doing it until they haul him off.

A Song & A Sip – Darrell Scott (and a Giveaway!)


We’re so thrilled to have Darrell Scott join us on the Blue Plate Special this Friday April 29th. Tune in at noon on the radio or online at wdvx.com to hear the show! That same day, we’ll also have East Tennessee’s own Scott McMahan playing the Blue Plate.

Darrell Scott has made a name for himself in the music industry, both as a singer and a songwriter, as well as a multi-instrumentalist.

A native of Kentucky, he has lived all over, but now calls Nashville home. Scott refers to himself as a foodie, poet and traveler, and you can find some of his poems on his website.

Darrell Scott’s new album, Couchville Sessions, releases May 13th. WDVX is giving away three copies to three lucky listeners, so enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Darrell Scott tunes tell a story. His signature style is one we enjoy time after time. That’s what happens when something is truly great, you never get tired of it. Check out this tune, from the new album.

Just like a favorite song, this week’s Sip features something we’ll never get tired of either — flavors that evoke stories and memories from childhood.

This is the latest in our blog series, A Song & A Sip, brought to you in part from our friends at Sugarlands Distilling Company.

Each week, they share a great drink recipe as part of their #WhatToDrinkWednesday, and we thought it would be fun to pair the drinks with an amazing music performance. This week’s Sip is the Mint Cookie Martini! Enjoy!

Mint Cookie Martini IG

Mint Cookie Martini:

2 oz Mint Condition Peppermint Moonshine

1 oz of Irish Cream

4 oz of Chocolate Milk

Rim martini glass with marshmallow fluff and crushed chocolate Teddy Graham’s. In a mixing tin with ice combine 3 ingredients and shake. Strain in to a martini glass with garnish.