2014 Sounds Like Home: A Night of Music From the Cumberlands
Thanks to all the performers and fans who made Sounds Like Home 2014 a huge success! Visit our YouTube page for videos from the event, and stay tuned for more details about next year's concert.
History of Sounds Like Home
What began as a celebration of cultural continuity has become a pivotal anchor in the yearly cycle of East Tennessee’s regional music. What started as an event to showcase community has now formed one of its own. We are pleased to be entering year five of this rare musical gathering, Sounds Like Home: A Night of Music From the Cumberlands.
In 2008, legendary bluegrass group the Pinnacle Mountain Boys reunited to open the second annual Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival. The performance was the first in 35 years for the classic lineup of Don Gulley, Buster Turner, Larry McNeely, Charlie Collins, and Allen Collins. What might have been a one-time commemoration was formally instituted two years later in 2010 at the first Sounds Like Home concert. Once again, the bluegrass fivesome rejoined on the festival stage. On the same night, Steve Gulley, Don's son, brought his award-winning band Grasstowne to headline the concert—fully marking the evening with the spectacle and symbolism of family, tradition, and heritage. The Friday night event was an emotional and musical success, a magical cultural moment, and launched the annual performance that this year reaches its fifth edition.
Since 2010, the Sounds Like Home community, like any other, has experienced its joys and sadness, its high marks and its losses. In 2011, Buster Turner, the Pinnacle Mountain Boys' founding member, died at 82 years old. In his place, nephew Bryan Turner, a gifted young bluegrass multi-instrumentalist, assumed his uncle's position at the 2011 concert, securing the Turner legacy even more firmly. Banjo innovator Larry McNeely missed the reunion that year as well for health reasons, and subsequently retired from public performance. Bluegrass mainstay Bill Rasnick stepped in to take over the banjo duties, just as he had in the original Pinnacle Mountain Boys after McNeely's first departure in the late 1960s. In 2012, the group lost another key member when Charlie Collins passed away, bringing to an end the life and career of perhaps Campbell County's most beloved and admired, most far-traveled, musical son. Byron Doss, one of East Tennessee's best-respected bluegrass fiddlers, assumed Collins' role, joining a band he had followed and revered since he was a young boy. Don Gulley, out front on lead, and Allen Collins, shoring up the band on bass, continued to insure the Pinnacle Mountain Boys' original bluegrass sound. The ensemble of Gulley, Collins, B. Turner, Rasnick, and Doss return in 2014 for their third reunion performance together.
Steve Gulley and Grasstowne returned to Sounds Like Home in 2011 for a second successful appearance. That year also marked the first headline performance by Dale Ann Bradley, a multiple time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award winner and a decade's long and close friend of Don and Steve Gulley. From her first song on the Cove Lake stage, it was clear that Bradley would become an integral part of the yearly event. She and Steve returned as a duo in 2012 and 2013. Last year also saw a performance from Cumberland River, a short-lived but highly popular bluegrass ensemble that included Steve’s son Brad Gulley. Three generations, then, stretched together across the night of music. This year we welcome Vic Graves to the Sounds Like Home concert. A longtime collaborator with Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley, Graves brings his own distinctive style and stage persona, one forged through decades of music making in the region surrounding his home in Speedwell, Tennessee.
About the performers
Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley
Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley have been musically intertwined for two decades. As well as achieving major success with their separate musical endeavors, they have performed on hundreds of shows, recorded numerous projects, and served long stints together on Kentucky's nationally acclaimed Renfro Valley Barn Dance. Beginning in 2012, they began a formal duet collaboration when Steve joined Dale Ann’s highly acclaimed touring band.
Steve Gulley had already won esteem for his lofty tenor voice and emotional delivery as an entertainer at Kentucky’s historic Renfro Valley well before he joined Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, a move which brought him to a wider but no less appreciative audience. Steve subsequently helped found Mountain Heart, a band with which he recorded five highly acclaimed, award-winning projects that featured him as the band’s lead vocalist. After leaving Mountain Heart, Steve began a five-year stint as a founding member and front man of the popular group Grasstowne. Today Steve is considered a stalwart at the very top echelon of lead and tenor singers in the bluegrass business, and at the same time is regarded as a gifted songwriter and guitarist. He has been tapped as a harmony and featured vocalist on projects including the widely praised Keith Whitley album ”Sad Songs And Waltzes,” as well as other projects featuring Ronnie Bowman, Dan Tyminski, Tim Stafford, Dwight McCall, Dale Ann Bradley, Jeff Parker and country singer Ken Mellons, among many more. As a songwriter, his songs have been recorded by many top professional groups, including Blue Highway, Kenny & Amanda Smith, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. His song "Through The Window Of A Train," co-written with Tim Stafford, was voted IBMA Song Of The Year for 2008. Steve has also earned multiple Male Vocalist of the Year nominations at SPBGMA. Most recently, Steve came full circle and joined Renfro Valley collaborator Dale Ann Bradley in her touring band, as co-founders of the Cumberland River Academy, and as co-producers of the Cumberland Mountain Music Show in Pineville, KY.
Five time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley and has been hailed by Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs as one of the greatest vocalists in country and bluegrass music. A former Coon Creek Girl and mainstay at Kentucky's Renfro Valley Barn Dance, Bradley commands a list of awards as long as Highway 40. But spend a few minutes with her and you’ll know she is something even more than extraordinarily gifted – she's extraordinarily human. A Primitive Baptist preacher's daughter out of the hills of Kentucky where no musical instruments were allowed, Bradley grew up in a self-described "backwoods holler" down a rural road where electricity and running water weren't available until she was in high school – something she has more in common with the first generation of bluegrass than her contemporaries in today's scene. Bradley's mountain soprano has been called "shimmering" (The Washington Post), "angelic" (Billboard), and "exceptional" (Bluegrass Unlimited). An acclaimed musician now living just over the mountain in Kentucky, Bradley fills every stage and studio with humor, grace, and integrity.
In all of her projects, Dale Ann expresses the boundlessness of bluegrass music, its musicians and vocalists, and incorporates songs from all styles into her shows and albums. "Bluegrass can go anywhere, do anything, rip your heart out and make you laugh." The songs are true and full of passion. The artists love it like their families, which in reality is where all the emotion comes from. The roots of this tree are strong and the branches are blooming.” Through all the ups and downs, happy and sad times, Dale Ann has always had a song. No one has handed her anything. She has garnered international success doing the kind of music she loves. Wherever the words, strings and melodies take her is where you will always find Dale Ann Bradley.
The Pinnacle Mountain Boys
Though the original Pinnacle Mountain Boys separated in the late 1960s, the band’s spotless vocals, distinctive songwriting, and instrumental innovation sustain a reputation that has never faded in East Tennessee. Individual band members’ talents have been recognized regionally and nationally for over fifty years, and the band is recalled as one of the finest bluegrass ensembles ever formed and active in East Tennessee. Starting with Buster Turner’s collaborations with young Frank Wakefield in the 1950s, through the unmatched, new-fashioned banjo work of Lorne Rogers in the early 1960s, the mid-1960s super group lineup featuring the polished, youthful vocal duet of Don Gulley and Turner, and the solid instrumental skill of steady Charlie Collins on fiddle, precocious, magnificent Larry McNeely on banjo, and sturdy Allen Collins on bass– these musicians still claim the attention of aficionados of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, hillbilly bop, bluegrass gospel, and bluegrass-country crossover. At the height of the group’s success, they appeared on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium as regional winners of a Pet Milk Song Contest, performing the Lorne Rogers’ tune “Cheater of the Year.” Radio stints on WNTT in Tazewell and WIVK in Knoxville followed and extended the band’s regional reputation. After the dissolution of the original group in the late 1960s, former members helped influence the founding of other legendary groups, including the Pinnacle Boys, the Knoxville Bluegrass Band, and the Pick ‘n’ Grin Bluegrass Band. The impact of the Pinnacle Mountain Boys continues to ripple through the regional bluegrass scene. Since 2008, members of the legendary group have reunited each year at Cove Lake State Park to celebrate a rich legacy of bluegrass music in the Cumberland Mountains.
The smooth perfection of Don Gulley’s vocals provided the Pinnacle Mountain Boys a crossover repertoire and appeal to country music fans. Gulley met and joined the original Pinnacle Mountain Boys in the late 1950s at a Tazewell radio broadcast called the Tobacco Hour. Don became a DJ and program director when WNTT opened in 1960, a position he managed for 34 years. Don and son, Steve, began performing on the historic Renfro Valley shows in the early 1980s, and, in 1989, he became a regular member of the cast. Don finally retired from Renfro Valley in 2012, and currently performs as part of the monthly Cumberland Mountain Music Show in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. He has also participated in dozens of recording projects over the decades, from 45s to LPs to CDs, including his son Steve’s latest project “Family, Friends and Fellowship” on the Rural Rhythm label.
In the late 1950s Allen Collins found Buster Turner, Don Gully and Lorne Rogers in need of a bass player at a WNOX radio broadcast. He joined the group that night, and stayed with them until the band finally dissolved in the early 1970s. Collins, raised in Grainger County, was already performing with some of Knoxville’s best musicians, including fiddler Jerry Moore who also later briefly joined with the Pinnacle Mountain Boys. In the late 1970s, Allen became a charter member of the Knoxville Grass, which eventually grew to become a regional musical institution. For the past twenty years Allen has performed with Jean Horner’s Fiddle Shop Band and the Bluegrass Pilgrims at festivals and performances throughout the East Tennessee. His most enduring musical connection has been with his own family band -- The Collins Boys -- formed in the late 1970s, staffed with his three talented sons.
Nephew of the late Buster Turner--founding member of the Pinnacle Mountain Boys--Bryan Turner joins the group on mandolin and tenor vocals, continuing his family's rich musical legacy. After stints with Cumberland Gap Connection, Bryan also serves now as the bass player for Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad and the Dale Ann Bradley band. He is also co-owner and operator, along with Steve Gulley, of The Curve Studio, a professional recording facility in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.
Veteran banjo player Bill Rasnick is a sure and strong musician, with decades of performing experience in top regional bluegrass bands. Bill grew up in Bristol, Tennessee listening to the WCYB Farm and Fun Time radio program and hearing his Grandfather R. J. Horton play the fiddle. He is a longtime member of fiddle legend Mack Snodderly's Painless Band, and has played with the Early Morning Stringdusters and the Bluegrass Scholars. Bill's is a familiar face at area festivals, especially the Museum of Appalachia's annual Fall Homecoming. In recent years he has reunited with Pinnacle Mountain Boys, the influential group he first joined in the late 1960s. Bill is a consummate ensemble musician, and strives to tastefully complement the band sound.
Fiddling great Byron Doss comes to the Pinnacle Mountain Boys with a lifetime of musical training and exploration, and a fantastic reputation. Widely regarded as one of the best--if not the best--bluegrass fiddlers in East Tennessee, Byron has played with numerous bands and on many recordings since his start in the 1970s. Doss was a frequent collaborator with the nationally-known Pinnacle Boys, a group whose origins were in the original Pinnacle Mountain Boys.
Vic Graves & Friends
Vic Graves was born and raised in Speedwell, Tennessee, in beautiful Powell Valley, a place he still calls home. A mainstay in East Tennessee's regional music scene, Vic is recognized for his rich, sincere baritone, skillful dobro picking, and sometimes absurd and playful stage antics. Starting in the 1970s with partner Doyle Smith, Vic was a regular country performer at Elmer Longmire's East Tennessee Music Hall in Harrogate, Tennessee. Later he turned most actively to bluegrass gospel, performing stints with well-loved group the Gloryroad Boys and later with New Road. In the latter band, Vic was awarded the PowerGrass Radio prize for Dobro Player of the Year in 2006. For a time he served as the bus driver for gospel superstars The Isaacs, traveling the country for six months in that role.
Back in East Tennessee, Vic has of late become a frequent and popular collaborator with the Dale Anne Bradley band, and performs monthly at the Cumberland Mountain Music Show in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. There Vic is the consummate variety show utility player, equally comfortable and expert picking among the acoustic ensemble, singing harmony or leading a cappella gospel numbers as a member of the Gap Creek Quartet, or taking his unmatched place as crew comedian. Vic will be joined at Sounds Like Home by longtime musical partner Stuart Wyrick, Bryan Turner, Steve Gulley, and other Powell Valley guests.