Nashville may be known as Music City, USA, but Murfreesboro will lay claim to the name as the yearlong Bicentennial Celebration honors our musical heritage this month.
Designed to honor the city’s 200-year history, the year-long celebration focuses on a different topic each month. July’s designation as “Music Month” was not surprising given Uncle Dave Macon Days is held every July in Murfreesboro.
Uncle Dave, a.k.a., The Dixie Dewdrop, is likely the most famous person to hail from Rutherford County.
“He would always come out and introduce himself as ‘My name is Dave Macon and I’m from Rutherford County. I suppose most of you don’t know anything about Rutherford County. Well let me tell you about Rutherford County’,” music historian the late Charles Wolfe said in “Rutherford County: 200 Years of Our County.”
And Macon would proceed to regale the crowd with tales from our fair city.
Macon started his entertainment career as a vaudeville performer in the early 1920s and later became the first star of the Grand Ole Opry in the latter half of the decade.
Before he achieved national fame as a banjo player, singer and comedian, he worked hauling freight between Murfreesboro and Woodbury.
“He did it with mules and he had a mule driver. He was the boss of the outfit and about that time (about 1900 or so) there were four grocery stores on the Square of Murfreesboro. Uncle Dave did deliveries to each one of them. As he would make his delivery to each one, he would sing out what he was delivering to each one of the merchants. That’s when everyone knew deliveries had come – when he would start singing. Everyone got such a kick out of it,” Wolfe said.
Macon even kept a banjo under his wagon seat so he could play on his way out of town to pick up another load.
“It was almost like a parade,” Wolfe said. “The little kids would come out and watch him and the gentlemen would tip their hats to him. They would always enjoy him coming to town.”
Needless to say, Macon was an original Murfreesboro character, who was known all over the town and countryside before he even made it to the stage of the Opry.
“If you have to pick out the legends of Rutherford County then he’s No. 1; he is like the Elvis of the Rutherford County,” Wolfe said.
Macon’s legacy will be remembered during the 35th annual Uncle Dave Macon Days, held July 13-15 at Cannonsburgh Village on Front Street in Murfreesboro.
Admission is $5 per day or $8 for Friday and Saturday with children 12 years old and under getting in free. Admission for Sunday’s gospel showcase and community service fair is free.
Other activities include a “motorless” parade on Saturday morning at 10 o’clock from Central Magnet School down East Main Street, around the Square and finally to the festival grounds.
As the parade rounds the courthouse, a mounted unit from the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp No. 33 will join with it as it re-enacts the 150th anniversary of General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Murfreesboro.
For more information on the festival, visit uncledavemacondays.com.
Every year the festival honors individuals who have dedicated themselves to the preservation and promotion of old-time music. This year the festival will honor J.D. Crowe on Friday night and Mike Snider on Saturday night.
In addition to the performances of Crowe and Snider, the festival will include music and dance competitions, as well as gospel music, shape-note singing and a community service fair on Sunday.
But before Murfreesboro pays tribute to its old-time musical heritage, the city will celebrate our nation’s independence at Celebration Under the Stars.
Murfreesboro’s annual Fourth of July party, Celebration Under the Stars starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 4 at McKnight Park, located at 120 DeJarnette Lane.
There will be games and activities for the kids, music, fireworks and refreshments for purchase.
Please leave pets, grills, alcohol and fireworks including sparklers at home.
Colors will be presented at 8 p.m., followed by the signing of the National Anthem with accompaniment by the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra.
The fireworks are slated to begin at 9 p.m.
But before America’s birthday party starts, celebrate summer in the outdoor pool at the SportsCom with the Rock the Pool Party from 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m.
For more information about either event, call the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department at 890-5333.
During the celebration and after the fireworks, Airport Road will be closed. All traffic leaving McKnight Park MUST turn right onto DeJarnette Lane.
Rover will be available for shuttle service to and from nearby parking areas.
Two nights later, Main Street: Murfreesboro presents Friday Night Live, featuring the Stones River Pilots.
“We like to play the songs people know and love,” Pilots drummer Norris Hall said in a previous interview. Those songs include favorites that span the 1950s-1980s.
“All are played with a generous sprinkling of special Pilot’s Seasoning. Stones River Pilots are all about having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously,” Hall said. “We hope everyone will like listening to us half as much as we like playing.”
Making up the group are a batch of locals that range from artists and craftsmen to the police force which include Rodney Wright, Melvin Cunningham, Alan Daigre, Hall and others.
The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. on The Square and is free to the public.
For more information on the group, visit stonesriverpilots.com.