Jack and Lynne moved to Overton county in 1972. Young and ready to start a family away from the big city. At first Jack worked in a sawmill and then for a large animal veterinarian. It was while working for Doctor Easterly that he got his nickname “Doc’s Hippie” at first, which eventually morphed into “Hippie Jack”.
In 1975, Jack left Doc’s and began to sell his black and white images of Plateau life in Overton County. Often more than 25 times a year the couple would travel, children and all, to art shows across the country. After so many years of work on the road, the museums came calling. The Morris Museum of Art, The Tennessee State Museum, Knoxville Museum of Art, Hartwick Museum, and finally the Smithsonian.
Success was a double edged sword, some financial security coupled with the disapearance of long used materials. Jack & Lynne weren’t done developing the photos that had gotten this far, but they needed a new direction.
It started around a campfire on the farm back in 2006. Friends playing music one evening during an open house. The general manager of the local PBS affiliate (WCTE) was there promoting a documentary that had been done on Jack and Lynne and their photography. Something was said about building a little stage, creating a local music broadcast. This is how things start, after dark, on a whim.
Jack built the Sundown Stage and the family started producing a very funky 30-minute Americana Roots Music show called, Jammin at Hippie Jack’s.
After a short first season (8 shows) with attendance limited to camera folks and a few friends that dropped by to watch, they decided an audience was needed. Live music shows needed a live audience.
So in May 2007, Memorial Day weekend they held their first music festival. For a small fee you could watch 3 days of music and even camp on the farm down by the river. Two stages would provide non-stop entertainment, and after the last show a giant bonfire would be lit to provide a communal “picking” area. The question was would anyone come? The gate was scheduled to open at 10AM Friday morning and by 8:30 that morning the campers were lining up.
It turned into a wonderful party, a fine mix of families and fun. People who loved music, many who played themselves. It became instantly apparent that something beyond the control of the family was taking place. A bigger family was forming. It was a family of performers and a family of music lover’s brought together to peacefully enjoy a warm late spring weekend.
People watched the many shows and then sat up through the night around the big communal bonfire and played until the sun rose over the mountains. Children played Frisbee and splashed in the creek. Meals were cooked and shared throughout the camping area. New friendships were formed, old ones renewed. Something magical was going on.
Not to be diminished, the television series flourished as well. The music oriented crowd more than encouraged the performers. The fact that the watchers and listeners were so involved helped the musicians perform on an incredible level. Nothing helps bring the music more than a nice group of people hanging on every note and every word. It’s an uplifting experience to be part of the production…the crowds hoots, holler’s and generous applause becomes part of history.
It’s been a few years now, some changes have occurred but the crowd continues to grow.
Now were a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with the mission to preserve and present original Americana music, musicians and those rare singer songwriters of a musical genre that is the lyrical reprsentation of our history as a nation. We don't want to see this lost. In fact, we're doing everything in our power to help it thrive. You can help us too. Donate to our cause - be part of history in the making.
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