A respected musician, writer, actor and owner of one of the country’s longest-running music venues, Ed Snodderly has dedicated his life to the arts.
Snodderly and his band will perform at 7 p.m., July 12, in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the Blountville campus of Northeast State Community College as part of its Hot Nights, Cool Music summer concert series. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The show is free and open to the public.
Snodderly’s low-key personality belies a wealth of accomplishment and talent that has distinguished him in the world of Southern roots-based music.
When Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled its new building in 2001, Snodderly was permanently honored when his song lyrics were literally inscribed into the wall. The institution could have chosen any one of hundreds of legendary and renowned songwriters to distill the essence of what the museum embodies, but it was the simple eloquence of Snodderly’s pen that gave his artistry an immortality.
He comes by it honest. Born in East Tennessee, Snodderly’s love of music and his ability to inspire others began with his own grandfather, an old-time fiddler. Together with Snodderly’s father on guitar and his uncles playing fiddle, piano and banjo, the Snodderly family band played for the same square dances back in the 1930s that the then-young Roy Acuff played on alternate weekends.
Snodderly’s family were tobacco and cattle farmers, and music was an inherent part of their life. Snodderly’s own down-to-earth outlook and artistry draws from that rich musical heritage.
In the 1970s, Snodderly spread his wings to take advantage of a deal with Philo Records, then moved to Boston, later migrating briefly to the West Coast to record another album. But Snodderly’s roots called him home in 1976, when he and a friend decided that East Tennessee needed a quality listening venue, and The Down Home Pickin’ Parlor was born. Surviving through numerous ups and downs of the music business, the Down Home in Johnson City has presented the finest in Southern and national artists for more than three decades.
As Snodderly continued his various musical projects, it was in the ’90s that his musical brilliance was to be feted in a duo with Eugene Wolf known as The Brother Boys. The two were acknowledged critically for a decade with their now three classic recordings on the Sugar Hill label.
Continuing to perform in a variety of situations, Snodderly recently formed a “writers in the round” group that he tours with featuring some of the best artists the South has to offer — Tony Arata (noted for writing Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”), Malcomb Holcomb and Jelly Roll Johnson. Additionally, Snodderly’s own songs have also been recorded by artists such as Missy Raines, former New Grass Revival’s John Cowan and Sam Bush as well as Jerry Douglas.
Alongside his musical endeavors, Snodderly has also been an actor for most of his life. His most famous role was in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” where Snodderly’s fiddling took center stage in the character of the “Village Idiot.”
Snodderly has also worked as an actor in theater companies such as the Denver Center Theatre, State Theatre of Virginia and Barter Theatre. For the past four or five years, Snodderly has been a contributing actor and musician, playing guitar, mandolin, dobro and fiddle, in “Fire on the Mountain,” set in an Appalachian coal mining town.