Johnson City in Washington County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Johnson City Sessions
Frank Walker, head of Columbia Records “hillbilly” recording division, conducted recording sessions in Johnson City in 1928 and 1929. Walker was a pioneer in the art of remote recording, which was deemed more effective than bringing musicians to large northern cities to record.
Walker was searching for talent from the southeastern mountains. On Saturday, October 13, 1928, he held auditions at the John Sevier Hotel in Johnson City. The following week he conducted recording sessions in makeshift studios at the Marshall Brothers Lumber Company on 334 East Main Street.
Popular recordings — such as Roll on Buddy, a bluegrass standard, by Charlie Bowman and his brothers and Johnson City Blues by Clarence Greene — highlighted the 1928 sessions. Clarence Ashley's classic Coo Coo Bird was recorded in October 1929. Frank Walker also was instrumental in the careers of blues star Bessie Smith and music legend Hank Williams.
Left: Frank Buckley Walker (1889-1963) scouted talent for Columbia Records' Country Music Division in the 1920s and '30s. Courtesy
Center, top: Charlie Bowman & the Hill Billies. Charlie was a major influence on the distinctive fiddling style in country music in the '20s and '30s. Courtesy of Bob L. Cox
Center, bottom: The Marshall Brothers Lumber Company building, ca. 1930. Courtesy of Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University
Right: The Columbia Records platter, Railroad Take Me Back, recorded in 1929 by Charlie Bowman's daughters, Jennie and Pauline, in New York. Courtesy of Bob L. Cox
Erected by Johnson City History Tour.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Industry & Commerce. A significant historical date for this entry is October 13, 1928.
Location. 36° 19.063′ N, 82° 20.969′ W. Marker is in Johnson City, Tennessee, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of East Main Street and Colonial Way, on the left when traveling east on East Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 333 East Main Street, Johnson City TN 37601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Johnson City Sessions (a few steps from this marker); John Sevier Hotel (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Samuel Cole Williams (about 500 feet away); Science Hill (about 800 feet away); Main Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); Johnson City (approx. 0.2 miles away); East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Depot (approx. ¼ mile away); Summers Hardware (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Johnson City.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 13, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 13, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 110 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 13, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.