When I first moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee from Fayetteville, Arkansas I desperately missed the vibrant music scene I left behind. The row of bars and taverns along Dickson Street had become my second home and there was innovative music to be heard nearly every night. By comparison, Gatlinburg, with its country music reviews and the cheesy square dancers every saturday night, seemed worlds away from the hip lifestyle I led before. I though I had moved to a cultural backwater. My friends from Fayetteville would call me on Friday and Saturday nights and fill me in on the details of the latest shows, making me even more homesick. Would I have to listen to Dolly, Barbara Mandrell, and the theme song to the Dukes of Hazzard for an entire year?
My solution was to use Myspace to sample East Tennessee's musicians. When I found a band that I liked, I would check them out. Most of the time, this meant driving to Knoxville after a long night of work. Sadly, this also meant no beer for me, since I had to drive back somehow. Where other anthropologists may have used novels to escape the rigors of fieldwork, I used music and weekly trips to Knoxville's Old City.
Eventually, one of the bands I kept tabs on had a gig in Gatlinburg. They were called Cutthroat Shamrock. I had written about the ways Irish ethnicity and heritage was constructed for tourism in Gatlinburg so their name piqued my interest. I went and discovered that not only were they enormously fun to listen to live, but they were all just really nice people, endearing even. Moreover, they played a Johnny Cash cover, a fact that is not lost on a homesick Arkansawyer. I vowed that every time they came back to Gatlinburg, I would go see them. It has been over two years since I met these guys and not only did they introduce me to my life partner but they have begun touring near my home in Fayetteville. I have moved back to the University of Arkansas, and now they help to alleviate my homesickness for Gatlinburg. This leads me to think about how fieldwork is so strange; I can be homesick for two places at once: the Ozarks and the Smokies.
When I read The Mountain Press interview with Derrick, Ben, and Guido I laughed at the frankness of their conversation with reporter Gail Crutchfield.