BLOUNTVILLE - Three individuals who have contributed to East Tennessee’s rich musical heritage will be honored at the 23rd annual Leon Kiser Memorial Tribute Show at Northeast State Community College on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Multi-award-winning bluegrass artist Doyle Lawson will be the guest of honor and is expected to perform. Lawson has performed professionally since the age of 18, beginning with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys, J.D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys, and The Country Gentlemen. Since founding the band Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1979, he has released more than 40 albums and won numerous awards, including International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Vocal Group of the Year eight times. He credits East Tennessee’s musical culture with influencing him as an artist.
“The music I play is a direct offshoot of my upbringing, in the fact that the a cappella gospel came from my dad and the quartet he sang with for many years, as well as a host of other area quartets,” Lawson said. “I vividly remember WCYB Radio’s ‘Farm and Fun Time’ show and artists such as Curly King, The Stanley Brothers and Mac Wiseman, just to name a few. And there was Bonnie Lou and Buster on TV in Johnson City. I could go on and on.”
Meanwhile, country music legend and TV star Tennessee Ernie Ford, who died in 1991, will be honored posthumously, 10 days after what would be his 100th birthday. The Bristol native released dozens of albums, spawning many hit singles including “Mule Train,” “The Shotgun Boogie” and “Sixteen Tons.” Ford’s son, Buck, is expected to accept the Leon Kiser Award in his father’s memory. The event coincides with a series of activities honoring Ford throughout the month of February.
Also receiving an award will be John Necessary, longtime volunteer and former board member of the Appalachian Cultural Music Association (ACMA), which cosponsors the Leon Kiser Memorial Tribute Show and operates the Mountain Music Museum in Kingsport.
“John has been instrumental in getting a lot of things done with this organization,” said Rick Dollar, executive director of the Mountain Music Museum. “He retired from the board last year. He is a very humble person, and doesn’t really like that we’re honoring him, but he deserves it.”
Guest performers at this year’s show will include the Kiser Family Band, Duty Free, Grant Maloy Smith, Tim White & Troublesome Hollow, ETSU Old-Time Pride Band, Breaking Tradition, Raymond McLain and The Mountain Music, Morehead State University Mountain Music Ambassadors, ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, Presley Barker, High Test Grass, J.P. Mathes and Fiddling Leona, The Magic City Polecat Playboys, and Doyle Lawson.
Each year, The Leon Kiser Memorial Tribute Show raises money for music-related nonprofit organizations, in memory of the late bluegrass artist Leon Kiser, who was the bandleader of the Holston Mountain Boys for more than 30 years. Kiser was also a prolific concert promoter in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
This year’s proceeds will benefit the Leon Kiser Scholarship and the Benny Sims Scholarship, as well as the ACMA Mountain Music Museum. The museum is owned by the nonprofit Appalachian Cultural Music Association (ACMA), which produces the Leon Kiser Memorial Tribute Show.
“I remember Leon Kiser when he led the Holston Mountain Boys, and I commend the folks who have carried on with the Tribute show,” Lawson said. “It’s a very good feeling to be the guest of honor this year.”
The Leon Kiser Memorial Tribute Show will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Wellmont Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Northeast State Community College, 2425 TN-75, in Blountville. Show time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door, or can be ordered at www.NortheastState.edu/tickets or by calling (423) 354-5169.