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Music in the Mountains

Tennessee is equally known for its deep musical history and its thriving music scene today.

By Julie Matthews

Some of our nation’s most legendary musical artists have hailed from the state including Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and, of course, Dolly Parton, with many more making the state their home. Certainly, country music has a very strong presence in Tennessee, particularly in its central hub, Nashville, or “Music City” as it is often called, which is full of country music singers and songwriters. However, Tennessee has a history of diverse musical genres including bluegrass, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and gospel. 

The Smoky Mountains, too, has a very rich musical history. With deep roots stemming from its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains and its Southern Appalachian heritage, bluegrass is a popular genre of music in the Tennessee Smokies and is often heard playing around its towns. Throughout the year, the region celebrates music and the performing arts by hosting an array of festivals, concerts and theatrical shows. Below are some of the area’s upcoming musical events.

May 17-18: 
Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival 

Head to Historic Downtown Sevierville for live music and delicious BBQ. Free admission and free concerts.

June 28-July 27:
Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales 

Enjoy musical performances and dancing, plus storytelling nightly at this annual summer street performance festival in Gatlinburg. Also check out the select dates for the fall and winter seasons.

August 16-18:
Gatlinburg Songwriters Festival

Buy tickets for this music series, featuring top songwriters, held at the Historic Gatlinburg Inn. Stay tuned for more details about the festival schedule.

September 19-21: 
24th Annual Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival 

Welcome back to the farm for this fun annual event brimming with wonderful music and camaraderie. Check out the website for the event details and to get tickets.

September 20-21: 
Pigeon Forge Bluegrass Festival 

See an impressive lineup of top Bluegrass performers at LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. Visit the website for ticket and festival information.

November – See website for dates
Grains & Grits

Experience Townsend’s jubilant festival celebrating a love of craft spirits and gourmet food. Along with tasting spirits from the region’s distillers and a variety of delectable foods, groove to live music performances.

November 14-16:
Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies Festival

Join this lively holiday-themed festival for incredible musical performances at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Don’t miss this publication’s Theater Guide section for information about popular shows in the Tennessee Smokies, such as Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction and The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, plus these productions’ Christmas performances.

All dates and times are subject to change. Please call ahead or check online.