Leroy Troy (left) and "Leroy," a mule owned by Danny Fraley, pose for a picture while preparing for their March 23, 2013, performance at Short Mountain Distillery in Cannon County, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
Leroy Troy, the consummate smooth-talking, banjo-clawing star of "The Marty Stuart Show" on RFD Network, will perform Saturday, March 23, during the first anniversary celebration of Short Mountain Distillery.
Troy’s namesake mule, “Leroy” from the ranks of Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners near Woodbury, is another scheduled headline for the event.
“I’m honored to on the same performing card with Leroy, the famous mule that belongs to Smyrna, Danny 'Mule Skinner' Fraley,” Troy said. “It’s no small honor to have a prized mule named after me.”
And the mule is reportedly honored to share top-billing with Troy.
“My mules, Leroy and Lucky, comprise my most prized wagon-pulling team that will be giving children and adult free rides,” Fraley said. “My mule always struts and puts on extra when he performs alongside Leroy Troy."
Troy said he will be performing as part of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, which got its name in an interesting way.
“Back in the 1990s, while appearing in New York, a disc jockey named Bill Knowles came up with the name, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band," Troy said. “It has a nice catchy ring to it, so we kept the name.
“And I think me and the band hold the record for most appearances at the Arts Center of Cannon County. We’re really honored to be asked back to appear at the Short Mountain Distillery too."
Troy said the band has appeared throughout the country but has yet to play in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Once we play Albuquerque, I guess you can truthfully say we’re nationally known,” he said.
A free sip of clear moonshine product will be available to adults as well.
“We’ll give out free sips and sample of our product, which can be purchased in our beautifully designed bottles that day,” said John Whittemore, the sales manager and director of hospitality at Short Mountain Distillery. “We’ll also have moonshine cookies available from the famous Blue Porch restaurant located in the Arts Center. The restaurant will be serving food throughout the day.”
Since starting the manufacturing of legal moonshine last year, the product has become available in all regions of the state, Whittemore said.
Cannon County businessman Bill Smith is also expected to bring his mules to Short Mountain.
“Woodbury retired banker Bill Smith, age 94, is perhaps the most famous of the Mule Skinners invited to bring his mules up on the mountain that day,” Fraley said.
There’s another big Mule Skinner’s event coming in May.
Mule Skinners have cultivated their annual May showcase event in Woodbury into the largest one day mule show in the southeast, said Andy Duggins, of Woodbury, who serves as president of the organization.
Founding member Smith, owner of Woodbury’s Smith Funeral Home, can’t recall his first mule show, “but my love for mules goes back to my youth when mules were a big industry in Cannon County.”
“I was born on a 300-acre farm, where my father, grandfather and three sharecropping families all farmed with mules,” Smith said. “Mules have a lot of heritage here, including Uncle Dave Macon’s freight business in the 1920s before he became a star on WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry.”
Plus, Uncle Dave was reputed to be a regular customer and consumer of some of the best - then illegal - moonshine ever produced on Short Mountain during that time.
Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick credits the Short Mountain Distillery and Mule Skinners with triggering new tourism dollars into his community’s economy.
“Distillery folks and the Mule Skinners have both been showcased on statewide and national TV, plus innumerable newspaper and magazine articles,” Patrick said. “They’re a big help in bringing tourism dollars into our local economy.”
Legends from Short Mountain have never been in short supply, including gangster Al Capone, as the most infamous buyer of moonshine back in the Prohibition era of the 1920s.
Legend has it that Capone arranged for Short Mountain moonshine to be shipped to Chicago and marketed under the label of “City Rum.”