For many years Gatlinburg was a sleepy little tourist town that had a small contingent of travelers setting foot here, mostly during the summer months. Now it is a much different town, and while some don’t like the commercial wonderland it has become, most tourists and locals alike can agree that the one change that is universally welcome is the emergence of live music to the area.
Smoky Mountain Brewery is the scene for a select group of artists that are booked for their designated music nights: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. These musicians are either up and coming local acts, or established bands with a small feverish following. These performers include Ben Shuster, Autumn Reflection, Sunburned Willy, Jason Ellis, and The Griffins. For a more complete listing of artists, check out the events page on their website here.
Crystelle Creek is another restaurant that features live music inside their dining and bar area. They welcome guests here by providing music acts and specialty performers seven days a week. Every Wednesday through Saturday features Neesee on the keyboard for five hours each evening. She plays uplifting hits from as far back as the 30’s to now. Also, currently playing on Mondays is Ben Stroupe, and Tuesdays is Matt Keller’s stage. On the second Monday of every month, a surprise guest takes the stage, so be on the lookout for the possible next big thing on this night.
Ole Smoky Moonshine should be credited with bringing national music acts into the Burg on a regular basis in their outdoor “hollar.” The first legal moonshine distillery in East Tennessee gives the customer a show almost every day with announced and sometimes unexpected guests on the stage. The music is varied but has a heavy emphasis on bluegrass that harkens back to stories of old moonshine glory that most never talked about, but legalization has brought these stories to the forefront in today’s times.
Sugarlands Distilling Co. is another legal moonshine distillery bringing its own stamp to the moonshine industry and the presentation of its musical guests. They have a smaller venue for their musical performers, as they stage them behind the distillery on their “back porch” outdoor setting. The acts they attract are also national coming from all across the country. Genres featured at Sugarlands is a little more varied than Ole Smoky and feature blues, folk, rock and roll, and straight up country, as well as bluegrass. Artists usually take the stage around 7 p.m. There are performances at the distillery around 4-5 times a week so check out their website.
Finally, one should not miss the Smoky Mountain Songwriter’s Festival that is a fairly new annual event held in late August. Gatlinburg is the destination for singer-songwriters that have written hits for major country acts past and present. The entertainment is free, of course, as is with all of the other locations with live music in town, and provides guests with live entertainment all over the Burg. There are also workshops and a song competition that gives the amateur a chance to show they are worthy of being the next big songwriter.
I can’t emphasize the importance of live music here in Gatlinburg enough. The distilleries have brought the music outdoors on a more frequent basis and the restaurants with the indoor acts have stuck with their guns in providing the tourists and the locals with something to keep them coming back. With all of this excitement in town, I expect the music scene in town to keep growing, and this will help Gatlinburg continue to broaden its reach with people.