Q&A: Darrell Acuff, an organizer of the House Mountain Hoedown Music Festival

 

Acuff, a fiddler and guitar player for old-time, bluegrass, and Americana bands, is one of the organizers of the House Mountain Hoedown Music Festival Saturday, Aug. 16, from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at House Mountain (5321 Shipe Rd., Corryton). Featured bands: Y’uns Jugband, the Caring Committee, Kelle Jolly, the Gladson Family Band, and Paul McQuade and Buck Hoffman 
 
How did the Hoedown come about?
It was me along with Kelly and Jerry Shipe—we had this vision for hosting a music festival in East Knox County. We have a wonderful venue—a 9-acre park with pavilion in the shadow of House Mountain—and it would give us an opportunity to help Washington Presbyterian Church, which will receive all the proceeds. The park and pavilion are part of WPC and it is used by many in the community: families bring their children in the evenings and they play and walk in the park; clubs and groups use it for their meetings, there are weddings and banquets there, other churches use it, a private school sometimes uses it for recess. I love all kinds of music and play with anyone that will let me sit in. And I love the outdoors—I’m a part-time farmer, raising beef cattle, and an avid hiker and bicyclist, and have hiked House Mountain many times. So you can see, this is why this music festival is so close to my heart: It’s a combination of everything I love.
 
Is square dance attire expected for the dance?
For the square dance with the Hellgrammites, the caller will be calling Appalachian or traditional squares, which is not to be confused with Western square dance where everyone dresses in Western attire. Appalachian square dancing is more informal and “social”—each dance is taught at the beginning and can be done by young and old alike. If you have never square danced before, this would be a great opportunity, because beginners are welcomed.
 
How’d you get involved with this kind of music?
Through the Laurel Theater—back in the old days it was the Jubilee Center. I was going to UT, and went there to listen to some music. I met some friends, and they played, and I learned to play old-time fiddle from them. I’ve been around the old-time music scene for more than 30 years now. I play in different configurations of bands or groups; sometimes it’s just my wife, Nancy, and me or with the Mumbillies or the Knoxville Ramblers. (We play at Central Flats and Taps each Thursday evening, weather permitting). 
 
The Mumbillies—that name’s got to have a story.
About the time I was getting out of UT in the ’70s, there was a group of 20 of us or so who would play together in different combinations, and sometimes get a paid job or two. I think the name originated at some festival outside the South. Sometimes, you’ll start singing, and forget the words, so you’ll mumble a little bit. Someone told us we sounded like mumbling hillbillies, and the name sort of stuck with us. Over time, it kind of condensed into Mumbillies, and that’s sort of the generic name for us group of old-time music players.
 
Tickets for the Hoedown are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; parking is free, food available for separate purchase. Attendees who play are encouraged to bring instruments for a jam 2 p.m.-7 p.m. See the event Facebook page for more updates.
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