Bullet Backstory – Sarah Morgan


This is a new series we’ve started here on the WDVX blog. It shares five bullet point facts to provide some backstory about an artist in his or her own words. For this edition of “Bullet Backstory” we sat down with mountain dulcimer champion Sarah Morgan to share a bit more about her influences and insight about music. Sarah Morgan will be playing on the Blue Plate Special June 10th, so be sure to tune in online or on the radio for what’s sure to be a great show!

Morgan started her musical journey at 7 years old and has fallen in love with traditional and folk music through the years. A native of East Tennessee, she has incorporated the rich musical heritage of the area into her music. At 18, Sarah placed 1st at the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships held in Winfield, KS. A year later she went on to become a finalist in the 2013 International Acoustic Music Awards. She has also won other titles, including
Mid-Eastern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion, Kentucky State Mountain Dulcimer Champion, and Southern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion. She currently studying Traditional Music and Appalachian Studies at Morehead State University.

Promo Photo

We hope you enjoy her bullet backstory!

  • Biggest musical influences – As a young teen, I became entranced with the folk musicians of the early folk revival of the 60’s and 70’s. I was drawn to the music of Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins, and Pete Seeger. The music of that era is so real and honest and urgent.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I always knew I wanted a career in traditional music. After high school, I didn’t know where or even if I wanted to go to college, so I took a gap year to teach and perform. After a year of traveling, I felt confident that pursuing a career in traditional music was what I was meant to do. Currently, I am studying Traditional Music, Appalachian Studies, and Arts Entrepreneurship at Morehead State University.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? – In our fame-obsessed culture, it seems that we define “successful musician” as someone who sells hundreds of thousands of albums and can fill a stadium with screaming fans. But being a success at music doesn’t have to fit that mold. For me, being a successful musician means striving to the absolute best dulcimer player I can be, performing and recording music that caters to my niche market, and teaching others how to play this amazing little instrument. I’m not trying to appeal to everyone and that’s okay. I would encourage young musicians to pursue the instrument and genre of music they love and not to worry about whether or not they will be “successful” as our culture defines it. All those things will fall into place if work hard at being the best you can be at your craft. You’ll be hard to ignore if you are really, really good.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? – Anything at the Laurel Theater! I remember my parents taking me to see the Hominy Mamas and ballad singer Elizabeth Laprelle as a young kid. Now, I love singing shape notes with the Epworth Singers once a month.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? – Pete Seeger. I learned so much from his recordings and I love how he approached folk music. While he always respected the integrity of these old songs, wrote new verses to reflect current issues and lent a new feel to seemingly antiquated songs.

Thanks Sarah!

Bullet Backstory – The Pinklets

DSC_0090Hailing from Knoxville, TN, The Pinklets is made up of sisters Lucy, 13 (guitar and vocals), Eliza, 11 (drums and vocals) and Roxie, 16 (Piano, bass and vocals) Abernathy.

Don’t miss The Pinklets at Bob Dylan’s Birthday Bash on June 3rd as well as at the WDVX | Ijams Meadow Lark Music Festival, June 25th.

The band writes all of their own songs, and their sound is defined by their pop melodies and three part harmonies. They are excited to be working on new material and plan to record a full length album in the near future.

The Pinklets have played everything from petting zoos to clothing store openings, as well as street fairs, and bigger stages along side some of Knoxville’s best musicians.

Here’s your Bullet Backstory, featuring The Pinklets!

Lucy (guitar & vocals) 
  • Biggest musical influences – Ben Folds, Billy Joel
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I don’t remember, it just happened really, but I’m really glad it did.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Play music with people you trust and are comfortable with
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? I like going downtown because there is so much to do in one place.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? I would work with Ben Folds because I really like his style and stage presence.
Roxie (piano, bass & vocals) 
  • Biggest musical influences – Billy Joel, Elton John, Ben Folds, Fitz and the Tantrums
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I want to be a professional actor and performer and realized I have the most fun performing in general
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Get out there, play as much as you can for people who want to listen
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? I like downtown but I especially like the Tennessee Theatre and the gardens (UT, Botanical)
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? Billy Joel because I love him – and he’s my favorite musician and it would be an honor to work with someone as brilliant as him

Eliza (drums & vocals) 

  • Biggest musical influences – Billy Joel and Garbage. My drumming influences are Sheila E. and John Bonham.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I love music because it is a way I can express feelings, and when I listen to it I automatically go into a good mood. Like Roxie I love acting, and I also love performing as a musician!
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Just be yourself in your music, don’t try to make songs that sound like someone else’s style. It always stands out if you’re unique.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? I also love downtown/market square, and I love the sunsphere because you can see so much of the city.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? Honestly I think it would be fun to work with Beyoncé on some of her older songs because some are very empowering and she mixes the music up a lot from pop, even to jazz on songs. 😂Also billy Joel and they have pretty much explained why.

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!


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!



#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.

An Extra Helping of the Blue Plate Special – Dori Freeman “Go On Lovin'”

Dori Freeman is a 24 year-old singer and songwriter from Galax, Virginia. She comes from a family rooted in art and tradition, and the influence of her Appalachian upbringing lies at the core of her music, heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice. American Roots music- including Bluegrass, Rhythm and Blues, and Old Country – and her early introduction to musicians like Doc Watson, The Louvin Brothers, and Peggy Lee have heavily influenced her modern, yet timeless sound.

Dori, with her father Scott on mandolin, showed an appreciative Blue Plate audience her Old Country influence with “Go On Lovin’, a selection from her recent self-titled release. Learn more about Dori and her music at http://www.dorifreeman.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/

Interview with David Wax Museum


Our own Katie Cauthen sat down with the David Wax Museum (11.12.15) to talk about the band’s newest album, GUESTHOUSE. They share more about the process of recording the album and what else they’ve been up to, as well as provide a performance! We hope you enjoy!

GUESTHOUSE is the band’s fourth studio album, and features the sound of “a band reconciling the accountability of marriage and parenthood with the uncertainty and challenges of life on the road.

In typical David Wax Museum fashion, the songs on Guesthouse are simplistic and sophisticated, elegant and plainspoken all at once. Rather than succumbing to the weight of the newfound responsibilities that landed on their doorstep, the band has leaned into the challenges to capture a brilliant portrait of the messy beauty of it all.

Bullet Backstory – An Interview with Shinyribs

This is a new series we’ve started here on the WDVX blog. It shares five bullet point facts to provide some backstory about an artist in his or her own words. For this edition of “Bullet Backstory” we sat down with Kevin Russell of Shinyribs to share a bit more about his influences and insight about music.

Shiny ribs

Russell’s musical journey began in Beaumont,TX when, at 14, he found his father’s guitar under his bed. It was in Shreveport, Louisiana that he formed his first band, Picket Line Coyotes. Later, he ended up in Austin where The Gourds were born and gave him a great 18-year run. Since then, Russell has been riding high “on the Shinyribs river of country-soul, swamp-funk and tickle.”

If you haven’t seen Shinyribs up close in person, come on out to Tennessee Shines on April 27th to see them play. The band will also be at Merlefest, April 28th thru May 1st.

Here’s the Bullet Backstory…we hope you enjoy!

  • Biggest musical influences – Waylon, early Michael Jackson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Replacements, Tom Waits, James Brown and Al Green.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I had the dream when I was just a boy. I believe it was after I saw Elvis Presley in Lake Charles, LA. when I was 8 years old. That’s when I knew I wanted to be on the stage singing and dancing.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Listen to everything and pay close attention to the song structure, the emotional energy and the sound of music. Too many times people focus on imitating an image and the style of the music that inspires them. This is fine. But, dig a little deeper to find the raw humanity at the core of great music. Know your history too. Seek out new music from the past. Follow the threads the universe drops in front of you. Be awake, as awake and as aware as possible. Life is a mystery, explore it from the inside out.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? Go to the historic districts like Gay St, Fort Sanders, thrift stores, music stores, book stores.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? James Brown fascinates me. I would love to sit in on a session where he actually sculpts songs out of grooves and band jams. I would love to watch him conduct that old In The Jungle Groove band. His method was so utterly irreverent, unpredictable and genius. Somehow the pure force of his personality shaped the music made by his band of the best players.

#PeopleOfWDVX – Spotlight on the Goodalls

Here at WDVX, it really is all about community. And there are so many folks in this great community who have helped us keep the music going. We’re excited to feature some of them on our blog, and tell a little bit more of their stories. For this edition of #PeopleOfWDVX, we’re shining a spotlight on the Goodalls – event volunteers and now coordinating the monthly live show production of Kidstuff! 

Name: John, Sue, Judah and Asha Goodall

Goodall WDVX

Sue, Judah and Asha Goodall


Hometown: We are originally from upstate NY, but moved to Knoxville almost 6 years ago.

John & Sue

Sue & John manning the table at Rhythm N’ Blooms


What made you want to get involved with WDVX? We started taking the kids to the Blue Plate when they were small (Asha was 18 months old and Judah was 3). We packed up the pretzels and the water bottles and crossed our fingers. They loved it, and eventually, Asha would show off any new pair of boots that she had to Red Hickey. Having had the opportunity to introduce the kids to live music at such a young age has made them into great audience members (and sometimes thoughtful music critics).

After spending so much time at events and listening at home, we decided that we’d get involved. Liz Lyons, the volunteer coordinator, has been great at encouraging all of us to volunteer, and the station staff has always been incredibly welcoming to the entire family.

Goodall Mayfield

Asha & Judah Goodall with David Mayfield


What is your favorite thing about WDVX? The eclecticism of the music that is played on air and the sheer amount of live music WDVX makes accessible to the community.


Asha Goodall in the WDVX Camper


Favorite WDVX show/program? We have a running joke, that although the kids do like to listen to Kidstuff with Sean McCullough, they really love Doug Lauderdale’s show Rumble. The adults like Rumble, too, but also like to stay up late on Mondays and listen to The New Show when Sam is in town. Katie’s Category Stomp is also a favorite. And of course the live shows like the Blue Plate Special and Tennessee Shines are even better when we get to attend in person.

Asha Bombadil

Asha & Bombadil

What does music mean to you/your family?
We’ve really tried to raise our kids surrounded by music of all sorts whether it be live or recorded. For us music is important, not just as entertainment, but as cultural and social history.

We are very lucky to be surrounded by the richness of the music of the southeast in general, and the Southern Appalachians specifically. The kids play instruments and the parents wish they had learned instruments at the kids’ ages!

Favorite thing to do in East Tennessee? We love to flatwater kayak, hike in the Urban Wilderness and see as much live music as possible. We’ve also started hosting house shows recently so that’s definitely a favorite activity.Judah Mic

Favorite musicians to see in concert? David Mayfield, Bombadil, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Tillers, the Lonetones, but there are so many!

Why do you think other folks should get involved with WDVX, either as members or volunteers? The simplest answer is the catch phrase “to keep the good music going” – but more specifically, community radio means just that, a community of listeners and volunteers banding together for a common good. And if WDVX isn’t a common good, I’m not sure what is!

A BIG thanks to Sue Goodall for answering our questions. And thanks to this incredible family for being so passionate about everything we do here at WDVX. We couldn’t keep the music going without folks like this. 


Bullet Backstory with Irene Kelly – An Interview

This is the first in a new series we’re starting here on the WDVX blog. It shares five bullet point facts to provide some backstory about an artist in his or her own words. For our inaugural “Bullet Backstory” we sat down with Irene Kelly to share a bit more about her influences and insight about music.

Irene Kelly

With her signature mix of Bluegrass, Country and Americana, Irene appeals to music lovers across all genres. A native of Latrobe, PA, she was a teenager when she discovered her penchant for songwriting. She ended up in Nashville where she still resides today. Irene Kelly is a longtime friend of WDVX and we’re always happy when she stops by for a visit or a song.

Don’t miss Irene Kelly, who is the featured performer for our April First Friday Show – April 1st at 7 p.m. in our studio on Gay Street.

  • Biggest musical influences – Dolly Parton is at the top of my list. Has been since I was 18 and she remains to this day.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? I guess it picked me. I got interested in rock and roll music and then ended up singing country after seeing and hearing Dolly Parton on her TV show. Another big influence was the song, “Country Bumpkin” by Cal Smith. That was a number one for him in 1979. My dad would have the radio on his in TV repair shop and when that song came on he’d let me know to come listen cause I loved it. He was happy too cause I was being converted into a country fan.
  • Advice for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft – Keep writing. Keep a journal. I heard it said, “Nothing freezes that moves” so keep it going.
  • Favorite thing to do in Knoxville – Besides visit and sing for the folks at WDVX? Lunch at the Tomato Head and the thrift stores.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? I’ve been very fortunate to get to work with a good many of my heros. The is in part due to their close proximity of me in Nashville and my songs I have had recorded by then. I guess I’d have to say the late great, Keith Whitley. I wish we could record a duet.