Johnson City Sessions Lectures

Your Library is hosting two lectures in September as a lead-up to the Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary Celebration on October 18-19. On Wednesday, September 18 at 6 p.m. ETSU professor Dr. Ted Olson will present “Tell It to Me: Revisiting the Johnson City Sessions, 1928-1929.” Then, on Wednesday, September 25 at 6 p.m. music historian and park ranger Corbin Hayslett will present “Shellac Soundscapes: Johnson City and the Columbia Recording Sessions.”

The Johnson City Sessions were recordings of Appalachian music made by Columbia Records in 1928-1929. The regional musicians featured in the recordings ranged from professionals to amateurs, and included quartets, string bands, yodelers, harmonica solos, and blues accordion. The recordings are a window into how East Tennessee sounded ninety years ago, and they continue to influence country, old-time, folk, bluegrass, and Americana genres.

In his lecture, Dr. Ted Olson will explain the Sessions’ significance today and play samples from the recordings. He will also talk about his work in producing two documentary albums about the Sessions. Corbin Hayslett’s lecture will take the audience on a journey through the Sessions’ soundscapes by listening to recordings and viewing original 78 RPM records of regional music. Dr. Olson says that both lectures “will endeavor to deepen people’s appreciation of Johnson City’s cultural history.”

For more information about the lectures, call 423-434-4457 or email Julia Turpin. Learn more about the Johnson City Sessions and the upcoming anniversary celebration at Visit and follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

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