Joseph starts off with his usual intro before getting into the sponsored message. After the message, he talks about the beautiful fall colors in the Smokies that peak around this time of year. After, he opens the floor for a special guest, Brandon Johnson, before asking Brandon what got him into being a musician. Brandon describes a few significant people such as the bands he listened to, a fiddle repairman, and other influences such as watching the fall-colored leaves while listening to bluegrass. Then, Brandon talks about the process of making his upcoming album, and some of the behind-the-scenes. Joseph shifts the conversation to how Brandon got into the writing business, and Brandon depicts his early life of writing short stories as a kid, some of which he still has.


Coming back after the break, Joseph gets right into it by asking Brandon about his writing career, and some special influences that stuck with Brandon. Brandon remembers a multitude of stories he read as a kid, but one particular story stood out. It was a story about a tall man which made him cry after reading it because it described him perfectly, and he felt heard from it. Following this, Joseph wanted to talk about Brandon’s thesis and what he calls “social energy,” or the creation of connections among the works of others. Brandon elaborates saying that many books pulled material from other books prior to them, and these new books go on to influence future works. From this, one could draw a lineage of literature, almost like a family tree. This isn’t limited to literature as the same concept can be applied to music and visual arts.


After the commercials, Joseph noted Brandon’s fiddle collection and asked if woodworking was the cause. Brandon conceded that he got into woodworking from watching someone take apart and repair a fiddle, making him curious to do the same. He started by small repairing fiddles, evolving to creating his own and selling them, to expanding into other instruments. Afterward, the two began discussing what the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area goal is and how it achieves this purpose. Brandon explains that the goal is to educate people on the culture and heritage behind the Appalachians through a variety of programs like the traditional music or hiking trails people once walked on. Following this, Brandon divulges some of the venues he played at, the podcast he works on, and how the podcast helped him expand as a writer.


After the final ad break, Joseph wanted to talk about Brandon’s opening line to one of his books and the story behind it. Then came time for Brandon to make his ideal itinerary. He lists off many breakfast spots, hiking trails, restaurants for lunch, golfing places, and dinner restaurants before ending the show with Brandon’s social media platforms and where you can find him.


00:02:54.390 –> 00:02:54.960 Joseph McElroy: today.

00:02:55.050 –> 00:02:59.820 Joseph McElroy: Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode of gateway to the smoking.

00:03:00.630 –> 00:03:09.270 Joseph McElroy: This podcast is about America’s most visited National Park, the great smoky mountains national park, and the surrounding areas and towns.

00:03:09.690 –> 00:03:18.030 Joseph McElroy: there are areas filled with ancient natural beauty deep storied history and rich mountain cultures that we explore with weekly episodes.

00:03:18.600 –> 00:03:29.850 Joseph McElroy: I am Joseph Franklin McElroy man of the world, but also a deep roots in these mountains my family’s lived in the great smokies for over 200 years my businesses in travel, but my heart is in culture.

00:03:30.540 –> 00:03:38.100 Joseph McElroy: today’s podcast is about the Blue Ridge National Heritage areas and some of the music trails and other things related.

00:03:39.030 –> 00:03:49.500 Joseph McElroy: But first let’s talk about our sponsors now imagine a place evocative of the motor courts of the past modern environment with a chic Appalachian feel.

00:03:49.920 –> 00:03:56.640 Joseph McElroy: A place with a country inns amenities and services, a place for adventure and relaxation.

00:03:57.060 –> 00:04:05.700 Joseph McElroy: Imagine a place where you can fish in a mountain heritage trout stream grill the catch on fire and eat accompanied by fine wine or craft beers.

00:04:06.150 –> 00:04:19.320 Joseph McElroy: Imagine a place for the old-time music world cultural sounds, there is no other place like the Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley North Carolina your smoky mountain adventure starts with where you stay.

00:04:22.230 –> 00:04:30.600 Joseph McElroy: smokies is plural adventure singular is the place to go to get information and listings about the smokies.

00:04:31.380 –> 00:04:43.890 Joseph McElroy: and focuses on outdoor recreation outdoor life events like weddings and adventures, along with providing information on lodging family entertainment events conventions honeymoon, and more.

00:04:44.550 –> 00:04:58.050 Joseph McElroy: You can go there to get trail maps and hiking guides and information to help you enjoy your adventures in the smoky mountain its goal is to become the leading information portal on the smoky mountains.

00:04:59.310 –> 00:05:00.000 Joseph McElroy: So.

00:05:01.290 –> 00:05:12.000 Joseph McElroy: we’re in the middle of leaf season down and down in the mountains here smoky mountains we’re just about reached a peak now but it’s going to be going again going on this weekend and for the next week.

00:05:12.870 –> 00:05:19.080 Joseph McElroy: To go see the really the brightest colors you can see, in god’s country and.

00:05:19.830 –> 00:05:26.010 Joseph McElroy: So I recommend everybody, not miss this chance to the end of October and November 1 week in November, seems to be when things are going to.

00:05:27.000 –> 00:05:42.840 Joseph McElroy: hit the top of it we were expected it earlier, but it seems like it got delayed, so I was just down there it’s beautiful and I recommend everybody go out to Maggie valley go to the Meadowlark Motel or just anywhere in the Western North Carolina and see those beautiful colors.

00:05:44.730 –> 00:05:45.330 Joseph McElroy: So.

00:05:46.650 –> 00:05:54.750 Joseph McElroy: I have a wonderful guest today his name is Brandon Johnson, he is a native of Lenoir North Carolina he’s now living in Nashville.

00:05:55.380 –> 00:06:05.280 Joseph McElroy: Where he is the  Program Manager for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, he formerly worked as English Literature and Appalachian Culture Instructor at Mars Hill College.

00:06:05.910 –> 00:06:17.400 Joseph McElroy: Not only is he a scholar of Appalachian culture, but he also has hands-on experience with leading but traditional music and crafts and never, such as the bluff mountain festival Hello Brandon.

00:06:19.110 –> 00:06:21.120 Brandon Johnson: Hey there, Joseph, thanks for having me.

00:06:21.390 –> 00:06:24.660 Joseph McElroy: I’m sure I’m glad you’re like to see all those fiddles in the background, there.

00:06:25.200 –> 00:06:28.320 Brandon Johnson: Sir, yes, Sir we’re coming to you live from the shop here.

00:06:29.130 –> 00:06:36.600 Joseph McElroy: So you grew up in North Carolina that’s another small town like Maggie Valley, what is it what is its claim to fame.

00:06:37.440 –> 00:06:46.080 Brandon Johnson: When nor was the furniture capital of the South, for many years and lots of people still have that recollection but there’s not a whole lot of it there anymore.

00:06:46.800 –> 00:06:58.110 Brandon Johnson: Some of the original companies like Bernhard is still there, working, but most of that got shipped overseas with NAFTA in Canada and that’s kind of the.

00:06:59.340 –> 00:07:01.950 Brandon Johnson: The core of the past, there are lots of ways.

00:07:02.940 –> 00:07:09.540 Joseph McElroy: craft furniture industry develop your artisan furniture or anything like that to take advantage of the reputation.

00:07:09.960 –> 00:07:26.430 Brandon Johnson: it’s where the so there’s some I know like there’s a hardwood flooring company that moved into one of the factories and there’s some other you know kind of smaller niche furniture companies moved in focus on, you know American made products and designs and stuff like.

00:07:26.700 –> 00:07:27.600 Brandon Johnson: That so there’s.

00:07:28.560 –> 00:07:30.570 Joseph McElroy: Google, set up a server farm didn’t they.

00:07:31.530 –> 00:07:37.680 Brandon Johnson: Did you Google security force was bigger than one or PD I know at one point so.

00:07:38.580 –> 00:07:41.010 Joseph McElroy: But you know you’re nothing interesting situation.

00:07:41.550 –> 00:07:57.000 Joseph McElroy: So you’re a part of the north part of the foothills of the blue ridge, and the smokies when there’s a lot of great music in that region and likely happy valley fiddler’s convention to those traditions inspire you to become a musician.

00:07:58.080 –> 00:08:02.850 Brandon Johnson: It did you know I didn’t really lay into the music until I was in college, but I.

00:08:03.990 –> 00:08:05.220 Brandon Johnson: learned enough guitar.

00:08:06.330 –> 00:08:13.500 Brandon Johnson: My dad plays guitar and bass and sings a lot, so I learned enough from him in high school my joke is not to forget it.

00:08:14.550 –> 00:08:21.510 Brandon Johnson: And then, so I went I really started learning in college, but I definitely attended a happy valley fiddlers Convention.

00:08:22.830 –> 00:08:31.560 Brandon Johnson: In the early to mid well, I’d say the mid to late 2000s, and they haven’t added the past two years, so I’m currently the reigning mandolin champion.

00:08:33.630 –> 00:08:33.990 Joseph McElroy: there’s.

00:08:35.340 –> 00:08:36.960 Joseph McElroy: A three a three year crown.

00:08:37.620 –> 00:08:40.500 Brandon Johnson: crown yeah I’ve been fortunate to win it twice, I think I wanted in.

00:08:41.640 –> 00:08:54.210 Brandon Johnson: 2014 and in 2019 So if I went again I can’t compete anymore, but my joke, is that I have a job and house and kids and I can’t practice to keep up with high school kids and more so.

00:08:55.770 –> 00:08:56.370 Brandon Johnson: It looks like.

00:08:57.030 –> 00:09:00.060 Joseph McElroy: So besides your dad who’s your other influences of music.

00:09:01.260 –> 00:09:09.180 Brandon Johnson: Oh well, so more of my influences the music came from over here I’m coming to you from North Asheville pretty much we reveal Stoney knob area.

00:09:10.230 –> 00:09:21.600 Brandon Johnson: I have to remember arvo freeman who passed away last week was a good friend of mine and a teacher, I took lessons from him for about six weeks or six months use me a couple years ago, but I really.

00:09:23.250 –> 00:09:37.050 Brandon Johnson: I picked it up from a lot of musicians around here Roger how is a guy in Mars hill that I got to know when I was going to college and Mars Hill and he repaired fiddles which are kind of part of how I got to do this, but he.

00:09:38.220 –> 00:09:44.610 Brandon Johnson: heard him play a tune called squirrel hunters at the blue mountain festival one time and it made me want to play the fiddle.

00:09:44.880 –> 00:09:49.740 Brandon Johnson: it’s a really great fiddle tune it’s a little different than some of the others, you might see my here.

00:09:50.130 –> 00:09:58.830 Brandon Johnson: And so I said well Roger would you teach me to play that I think I’m gonna get a fit on he said, I will and so that’s kind of one of the key moments that really put me on the fiddle and.

00:10:00.120 –> 00:10:03.780 Brandon Johnson: I just you know kind of got into it in college a lot.

00:10:04.800 –> 00:10:06.390 Brandon Johnson: I started listening to nickel creek.

00:10:08.610 –> 00:10:14.730 Brandon Johnson: And that kind of pulled me back in I remember, we talked about it kind of as a seismic shift in the traditional music world.

00:10:15.810 –> 00:10:23.640 Brandon Johnson: The nickel creek came out and the O brother where art thou album came out around the same time, in the early 2000s and kind of revitalized interest in.

00:10:23.940 –> 00:10:34.770 Brandon Johnson: bluegrass and traditional and old-time music and my family bought a nickel creek album and oh brother or their album in the same trip to Barnes and noble I remember that distinctly so it was kind of like a.

00:10:35.790 –> 00:10:36.360 Brandon Johnson: You know, a.

00:10:37.440 –> 00:10:44.130 Brandon Johnson: supernovas going off for something for me, at least not I was driving around today actually I’m fortunate enough to get to take the parkway to work.

00:10:45.180 –> 00:10:54.570 Brandon Johnson: And so the leaves are doing great up there, and I was remembering I heard one of the moments I really knew I loved music, I was listening to nickel creek my family was going.

00:10:55.110 –> 00:11:05.850 Brandon Johnson: From blowing rock to banner alkaline to 21 right under the link oh viaduct on the parkway and that was the first time I’d ever really is just probably early 2000s really ever.

00:11:07.050 –> 00:11:14.490 Brandon Johnson: fell in love with the way the edges of maple leaves turn orange say you have that orange and green together, and I remember.

00:11:14.880 –> 00:11:25.080 Brandon Johnson: That visual very distinctly and listening to nickel creek on that drive and that’s kind of to me to where the moments I can trace it all back to of how I really dug in.

00:11:25.470 –> 00:11:39.810 Joseph McElroy: Oh yes, that’s nice actually you know both the visual and audio cues to bring back a memory and actually also instill a passion for something right definitely yeah.

00:11:41.160 –> 00:11:46.290 Joseph McElroy: So your dad wasn’t bluegrass or he was a musician but not in.

00:11:47.550 –> 00:11:52.080 Brandon Johnson: yeah my dad played electric bass and southern rock bands in Spartanburg.

00:11:53.070 –> 00:11:54.570 Brandon Johnson: I think he kind of he laid off of that.

00:11:55.830 –> 00:11:59.190 Brandon Johnson: People hate my dad’s not really a partier as such, so he.

00:11:59.460 –> 00:12:02.970 Brandon Johnson: Has not super into the bar scene, he loved the music, but he didn’t like where he

00:12:02.970 –> 00:12:07.710 Brandon Johnson: played, and that he was a huge Marshall Tucker band fan.

00:12:08.490 –> 00:12:16.590 Brandon Johnson: band fan, and when I think it was a toy called well there were rumors in Spartanburg my dad was going to replace him.

00:12:16.650 –> 00:12:16.980 In March.

00:12:18.420 –> 00:12:23.430 Brandon Johnson: But my dad said he couldn’t have hung with him in the studio he probably could have on stage that didn’t happen, however.

00:12:25.050 –> 00:12:31.200 Brandon Johnson: My dad traded in amp for an acoustic guitar and that’s kind of the one I learned on.

00:12:32.730 –> 00:12:34.740 Joseph McElroy: You didn’t learn a lot of southern rock then.

00:12:36.450 –> 00:12:45.900 Brandon Johnson: You know a little bit my when I was learning really kind of starting to play out at first, I would we play some john Denver my dad is huge john Denver, and I remember it was like.

00:12:46.980 –> 00:12:52.860 Brandon Johnson: A massive day of mourning, and our family when john Denver died, but so you know that music really.

00:12:54.270 –> 00:13:03.810 Brandon Johnson: Powerful you know I think some of the first music you ever hear, is not to go to Thomas Wolfe but it kind of is encoded in you, and when you hear it, it does.

00:13:04.980 –> 00:13:16.650 Brandon Johnson: sync things to you so Thomas or John Denver and James Taylor and Billy Joel some of those that my parents listened to you, I hear that and I getting kind of you to know, takes me back to a different place in time.

00:13:17.730 –> 00:13:20.940 Joseph McElroy: So, so do you play in a band now.

00:13:22.980 –> 00:13:37.560 Brandon Johnson: I do not, I played in a band until about early 2019 and I played in several bands since I’ve been here in Nashville, but I have a five-year-old boy and an 11-week old boy, which are occupying.

00:13:38.670 –> 00:13:39.900 Joseph McElroy: sort of prevents tours.

00:13:39.900 –> 00:13:46.410 Brandon Johnson: yeah yeah That being said, I have, I do have an album in the works.

00:13:47.580 –> 00:13:56.130 Brandon Johnson: Under my name, it’d be a Brandon Johnson album that was kind of my father’s day present my wife, what do you want for father’s day and I said oh just a weekend.

00:13:56.580 –> 00:14:09.720 Brandon Johnson: She was pregnant, we were awaiting our second son, and I said just a weekend to go make this happen so I’ve got a good really good friend who’s got a good recording setup, and so we cut most of it, I think there are a couple of things left to do and mixing and mastering and stuff so.

00:14:10.260 –> 00:14:17.910 Joseph McElroy: there’s some good bluegrass and then you know labels in Asheville it’s like it’s got some of them I know the.

00:14:18.990 –> 00:14:24.930 Joseph McElroy: Some of the people associated balsam range are also involved with something there too yeah.

00:14:25.290 –> 00:14:32.220 Brandon Johnson: yeah yeah mountain home music organic records really great company really at the forefront of bluegrass.

00:14:33.030 –> 00:14:36.660 Brandon Johnson: And, as some people would call it blue graph to Jason music these days.

00:14:38.190 –> 00:14:40.200 Joseph McElroy: Do you know William Ritter?

00:14:40.440 –> 00:14:41.220 Brandon Johnson: I do yeah.

00:14:41.280 –> 00:14:47.370 Joseph McElroy: OK cool he’s ever had him I had him on the show and he’s actually coming up to play at the Meadowlark for some couple of time.

00:14:47.760 –> 00:14:54.000 Brandon Johnson: yeah that’s a great will and I both went to APP state to get our masters and he was, I think, maybe a year after I was so we.

00:14:54.390 –> 00:15:03.690 Brandon Johnson: We kind of cross paths a little bit we’ve gotten to know each other, a little bit after that I really respect his music and his you know devotion to CS particular and still.

00:15:03.690 –> 00:15:09.240 Joseph McElroy: yeah he’s uh he’s up there, so it’s not too far from where you are right.

00:15:09.300 –> 00:15:10.410 Brandon Johnson: No, Sir, sir.

00:15:11.340 –> 00:15:11.940 cool.

00:15:13.290 –> 00:15:23.040 Joseph McElroy: So, so that that music is a passion, but you ended up getting into academia and writing what was the.

00:15:24.180 –> 00:15:35.460 Joseph McElroy: We only have a minute before we go for the break, so I want to continue this after this, but what would you say is the first thing the first moment when you decided you wanted to do a little bit of writing.

00:15:37.290 –> 00:15:48.420 Brandon Johnson: Well, I remember writing as a kid writing down some stories and my grandmother told me when I was probably four or five there, I do have actually recorded stories, I wrote when I was four or five.

00:15:48.570 –> 00:16:03.630 Brandon Johnson: Oh, but I didn’t I wasn’t really aware of that, so I got kind of into college and actually did some poetry writing it in a nice little bit of fiction in high school, I really fell in love with some particular poetry, which we can follow up on there, but it’s.

00:16:04.830 –> 00:16:10.110 Brandon Johnson: yeah it kind of it started early I guess my family likes to talk and tell stories, so I think that was just part of it.

00:16:10.620 –> 00:16:12.270 Brandon Johnson: Part of me that I couldn’t escape.

00:16:12.750 –> 00:16:28.440 Joseph McElroy: cool well you know my quicks poetry stories I’ve actually written poetry too and but I’ve been more performative than any kind of formal training or anything like that, but I, my claim to fame is I’ve had my poetry published on the jumbotron and Times Square.

00:16:29.910 –> 00:16:31.050 Brandon Johnson: that’s a pretty good claim.

00:16:31.050 –> 00:16:37.980 Joseph McElroy: There yeah so any way we’re gonna take a break we’ll talk more about your academic and writing career.

00:16:39.060 –> 00:16:39.360 Joseph McElroy: off.

00:18:54.180 –> 00:19:10.530 Joseph McElroy: So this is Joseph Franklyn McElroy back with the gateway to the smokies podcasts and my guest Brandon Johnson so Brandon you, you get into college and you, you get into academia, even though you studying music you decided to become a.

00:19:12.870 –> 00:19:14.070 Joseph McElroy: Creative writer right.

00:19:14.670 –> 00:19:17.310 Joseph McElroy: yeah yeah it’s.

00:19:17.340 –> 00:19:24.780 Brandon Johnson: was always kind of my ambition, more so than teaching, but you kind of gotta do when you get to the other, at least in my way.

00:19:25.860 –> 00:19:31.710 Joseph McElroy: I see that did you, I see that you have a lot of involvement with the Thomas Wolfe literary awards.

00:19:32.010 –> 00:19:34.740 Joseph McElroy: From yes, Caroline is like the Chair of the awards.

00:19:34.740 –> 00:19:35.940 Joseph McElroy: Committee and things and.

00:19:37.080 –> 00:19:42.120 Joseph McElroy: Was was was a Thomas a focus of your academic career or your early writing.

00:19:42.540 –> 00:19:54.510 Brandon Johnson: most definitely I read, I read Thomas Wolfe for the first time, I think it was 2007 maybe, and it was really is hugely impactful for me.

00:19:55.680 –> 00:19:59.160 Brandon Johnson: A as a young man from Western North Carolina.

00:20:00.690 –> 00:20:07.080 Brandon Johnson: You know very much a rural place some education, not a time definitely not healthy.

00:20:08.490 –> 00:20:21.480 Brandon Johnson: You know, he was kind of one of us did it so he was a big you know, a figure for me it’s might look to and lots of writers I’ve heard you know Fred Chapel and RON rash talk about Thomas within that same way.

00:20:23.040 –> 00:20:34.110 Brandon Johnson: So I read him and I read look over an angel for the first time and its kind of like what the hell and then read it subsequently and I really kind of caught a groove with it and started to understand it.

00:20:35.610 –> 00:20:43.680 Brandon Johnson: And so yeah he always and, interestingly enough I’m a little grown a little bit, but we’re about the same size physically.

00:20:44.580 –> 00:20:55.980 Brandon Johnson: He was like six and a half to 50 and I’m about an inch taller than that but where there’s a cut out of him at the Thomas Wolfe house and I’ve got a picture Stan of the society because we’re kind of the same size and.

00:20:57.210 –> 00:20:59.190 Brandon Johnson: He actually wrote a short story called.

00:21:00.510 –> 00:21:10.050 Brandon Johnson: Gulliver the story of a tall man, and I remember, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Nashville reading and I just broke out in tears because he described my life to me.

00:21:10.560 –> 00:21:20.160 Brandon Johnson: And the whole premise was that people get caught up in someone who’s tall into being tall and ask questions like how’s the weather up there, and did you play basketball and all.

00:21:20.670 –> 00:21:23.670 Brandon Johnson: things which you know I’d heard 8 million times in my life.

00:21:24.900 –> 00:21:30.180 Brandon Johnson: and Thomas was very much like you know what matters in life is the smallest thing that you just barely remember.

00:21:30.810 –> 00:21:31.860 Brandon Johnson: here and there, and so.

00:21:31.920 –> 00:21:41.940 Brandon Johnson: Just kind of exploded on me and he said we, I think, have a lot in common in some ways, and of course he was brilliant and much more prolific than I am, but.

00:21:43.740 –> 00:21:46.080 Brandon Johnson: yeah it was always there, and so I kind of.

00:21:47.580 –> 00:21:51.180 Brandon Johnson: wrote my master’s thesis on Thomas Wolfe Ts Eliot and Ecclesiastes.

00:21:53.460 –> 00:21:54.870 Joseph McElroy: Word the second yeah.

00:21:54.900 –> 00:21:55.530 yeah.

00:21:57.180 –> 00:22:02.910 Brandon Johnson: I never really read them in class that much so it was kind of the thing I had to pursue myself and.

00:22:04.590 –> 00:22:11.070 Brandon Johnson: And I’ve taught him really going on my way to teach him and literature classes that I’ve taught and it’s been a real honor to work with.

00:22:11.490 –> 00:22:25.740 Brandon Johnson: The women’s diamond legacy and Thomas Wolfe memorial to do a Thomas Wolfe short story book club and so I’ve been a discussion leader at that for probably five or six years now and it’s a good half.

00:22:26.190 –> 00:22:32.550 Joseph McElroy: Well, you know he’s very interesting me I’m also a tall back I’m a little bit heavier than you guys.

00:22:33.810 –> 00:22:37.560 Joseph McElroy: But I’m almost I’m like six-five and a half, so you know up there.

00:22:37.890 –> 00:22:41.370 Joseph McElroy: And I was born and raised in western North Carolina and then I went to New York City.

00:22:41.460 –> 00:22:43.140 Joseph McElroy: You know and finance success here.

00:22:43.170 –> 00:22:43.650 Brandon Johnson: More like.

00:22:43.680 –> 00:22:44.280 Joseph McElroy: pretty much.

00:22:45.720 –> 00:22:53.280 Joseph McElroy: Now you did a presentation for the Appalachian studies, association and you said, where you said is Thomas Wolfe Appalachian.

00:22:53.700 –> 00:22:55.860 Joseph McElroy: What did you decide for that presentation.

00:22:56.010 –> 00:22:59.250 Brandon Johnson: Well, first of all, I do have to say I’ll pronounce it Appalachian.

00:22:59.370 –> 00:23:01.560 Joseph McElroy: Well, you know there’s a lot of people.

00:23:01.560 –> 00:23:01.710 That.

00:23:02.880 –> 00:23:15.900 Brandon Johnson: there’s a lot of talk about that, but I broke that down into a couple of kind of areas to look at it so Thomas Wolfe is is not Appalachian in a sense of what most of what he writes about is not said, an Appalachian.

00:23:16.530 –> 00:23:28.110 Brandon Johnson: The part of most of his writing is an Appalachian Asheville, which is an urban center as opposed to a rural space, which is at Appalachian literature is pretty much is usually set in.

00:23:29.040 –> 00:23:38.070 Brandon Johnson: And also there’s a guy I can’t remember his name right now Jedediah Evans, I think, in Australia that just wrote a book about Thomas Wolfe and I reviewed it.

00:23:38.520 –> 00:23:47.310 Brandon Johnson: And I realized in that review that Thomas Wolfe kind of looks forward instead of looking backward so his nostalgia is nostalgia for longing for warning for.

00:23:47.670 –> 00:23:58.050 Brandon Johnson: Discovering something in the future and not for the past so that’s kind of counterintuitive to the way a lot of people exist and think in Appalachian writing.

00:23:59.610 –> 00:24:09.450 Brandon Johnson: So in those ways, he’s not in a very strict geographic since he is because he’s from actual his family’s from here, he does he wrote a novel.

00:24:10.140 –> 00:24:25.230 Brandon Johnson: called the hills beyond that he didn’t finish actually before he died that followed the family of Zebulon Vance, who was a wartime Governor of North Carolina he’s been a lot of discussion about Zebulon Vance, who is a well documented racist now they’ve taken down advance monument national.

00:24:26.430 –> 00:24:39.330 Brandon Johnson: But the novel followed his family and spent time in rural spaces, so there are some Appalachian situations and Thomas will also have an interesting relationship with race and how we portrayed racing as work.

00:24:41.070 –> 00:24:51.570 Brandon Johnson: And I think part of that was the urban nature of what he wrote so it’s really I said something smart and clever like sometimes yes, sometimes no or something.

00:24:54.000 –> 00:24:55.620 Joseph McElroy: You didn’t do it for the final solution.

00:24:55.620 –> 00:25:04.920 Joseph McElroy: But you know the Appalachians, but I still say Appalachian because actually, I grew up saying it, but I see that I have a problem because I always spell it an I and instead of.

00:25:06.480 –> 00:25:07.590 Joseph McElroy: Because I did that.

00:25:08.790 –> 00:25:09.180 Joseph McElroy: But.

00:25:12.180 –> 00:25:19.560 Joseph McElroy: the Appalachians are or are not some you know uniform group of people, you know.

00:25:20.040 –> 00:25:22.230 Joseph McElroy: You know, only people I was many people fought on the.

00:25:22.230 –> 00:25:35.340 Joseph McElroy: side of the Union is as the confederacy back in the day I mean it’s a fractious lot and I kind of classic and all sorts of different approaches to live in and thinking things.

00:25:35.790 –> 00:25:44.010 Joseph McElroy: You know, one of the things we’re doing with the Meadowlark Motel smoky mountain heritage Center it’s I like that what you said about Thomas Wolfe is that it’s focused on.

00:25:44.460 –> 00:25:52.860 Joseph McElroy: An astrologer for the future right is that it’s like bringing What was really wonderful and creative and interesting from the past, but you know, in a way that’s.

00:25:53.910 –> 00:25:58.620 Joseph McElroy: targeted towards the future right and the growth of that so.

00:25:59.820 –> 00:26:03.450 Joseph McElroy: Now I didn’t read the have your I didn’t read your whole thesis but.

00:26:05.430 –> 00:26:06.480 Brandon Johnson: I read a little bit of the as.

00:26:06.510 –> 00:26:07.200 Brandon Johnson: i’ll forgive you.

00:26:09.630 –> 00:26:20.430 Joseph McElroy: And you, you said something really yeah it was interesting to me this you focus on the idea of social energies mean other that was created by two other.

00:26:22.110 –> 00:26:25.680 Joseph McElroy: You know, you know people before you have with their names you’ll know them.

00:26:26.880 –> 00:26:40.200 Joseph McElroy: That the create connections between authors and then work and sort of draw a line of you know, between authors and what they’re working about, and can you tell me a little bit more about that.

00:26:40.740 –> 00:26:47.040 Brandon Johnson: yeah it comes free squarely out of the new historicist literary theory and Stephen green-black.

00:26:48.420 –> 00:26:54.240 Brandon Johnson: I believe he was the author of the main text I use to kind of ground that in theory.

00:26:55.410 –> 00:26:59.820 Brandon Johnson: And so the idea is that social energies flow throughout everything that’s written.

00:27:00.480 –> 00:27:08.490 Brandon Johnson: And so the idea, it really the whole thing came to me it really started some of the first literature ever loved was the love song jail for Prufrock.

00:27:08.940 –> 00:27:15.450 Brandon Johnson: But Ts Eliot and I were really attracted to that because it had echoed Ecclesiastes used in lots of places.

00:27:16.050 –> 00:27:21.630 Brandon Johnson: And you know I grew up in a very religious household and I think that.

00:27:22.110 –> 00:27:31.440 Brandon Johnson: Reading the Bible and understanding the symbolism of the Bible and figure language of the Bible really kind of set me up to think in a literary way as I got older.

00:27:32.370 –> 00:27:41.040 Brandon Johnson: But, so I realized, you know okay well Ts Eliot talks about Ecclesiastes ease and then when I dug into Thomas Wolfe he pulled straight out of Ts Eliot’s poems.

00:27:42.060 –> 00:27:47.760 Brandon Johnson: flow softly sweet Tim’s you know straight out of the wasteland April is the cruelest month.

00:27:49.020 –> 00:27:58.860 Brandon Johnson: So it was kind of like okay something’s happening here because the wolf is pulling from Elliot’s point from Ecclesiastes and then the wolf is also using please yeah I see so.

00:27:59.580 –> 00:28:06.540 Brandon Johnson: The argument is essentially you know Ts Eliot read Ecclesiastes he’s influenced in this way and then we’ll Fred Elliott.

00:28:06.900 –> 00:28:11.820 Brandon Johnson: who had also read Ecclesiastes used and then that influence will find a different way, so you could draw lineage.

00:28:12.330 –> 00:28:22.050 Brandon Johnson: From throughout the centuries, through those texts and how they’ve influenced one another, so what’s in the idea is that once something is written it’s part of literature.

00:28:22.650 –> 00:28:33.600 Brandon Johnson: And so it influences literature period and you can’t really escape the influence of any particular thing because you don’t know what the person who wrote what you’re reading is read in the past.

00:28:34.050 –> 00:28:45.510 Joseph McElroy: So when people invent a word or phrase or something and it catches on they actually create a sort of mortality that has a lineage it goes down through centuries, and you know, maybe even young’s.

00:28:45.960 –> 00:28:46.800 Joseph McElroy: Exactly yeah.

00:28:46.980 –> 00:28:55.530 Joseph McElroy: And and and you and it’d be interesting to network mapping on that to see if you can lineages I mean it’d be interesting like do they can.

00:28:56.400 –> 00:28:57.930 Joseph McElroy: Create lineages with DNA it.

00:28:59.100 –> 00:29:02.130 Joseph McElroy: seems to me, you should be able to create lineages with literature too

00:29:03.390 –> 00:29:10.470 Joseph McElroy: I was wondering if that would also apply to other things besides just the written word, it seems to me that that would be in the arts as well.

00:29:11.340 –> 00:29:12.450 Brandon Johnson: As a reference percent.

00:29:12.900 –> 00:29:17.340 Joseph McElroy: And not marks but also visual arts is referencing it all the way you know you’re pulling stuff.

00:29:17.760 –> 00:29:32.100 Joseph McElroy: back, but you know, then I started thinking oh man it’s probably even in the things like politics, you know, ideas and phrases used in politics, you know, probably have a lineage of that sort of social energy as well.

00:29:32.700 –> 00:29:38.730 Joseph McElroy: Absolutely as a really cool concept, I really liked I like getting into that source stuff.

00:29:39.630 –> 00:29:39.990 yeah.

00:29:42.210 –> 00:29:43.020 Joseph McElroy: So.

00:29:44.190 –> 00:29:45.600 Joseph McElroy: So you.

00:29:47.430 –> 00:29:51.000 Joseph McElroy: you’re getting back a little bit in the music and the stuff that you’re doing.

00:29:52.860 –> 00:29:56.910 Joseph McElroy: You know I have been to the bluff mountain festival in hot springs North you.

00:29:56.910 –> 00:29:57.450 Brandon Johnson: Have.

00:29:58.020 –> 00:30:11.730 Joseph McElroy: Actually, have, believe it or not, I just like to go to the hot springs getting those hot tubs right it’s a nice lunch or and the festival is a lot of fun, a lot of dancing and everything else hello, are you, festival director.

00:30:12.750 –> 00:30:29.640 Brandon Johnson: I love I’m still the best red dress started in 2014 I was co-director in 2014 and so I’ve been doing it since and I started as an intern with Amanda’s county arts Council of with I did do the bottom scholarship it at Marshall college.

00:30:31.050 –> 00:30:44.610 Brandon Johnson: And so I started working kind of as an intern for the festival, and then I ended up directing it, which is really one of the really big honors of my life its festival it’s been going for a quarter-century now.

00:30:46.050 –> 00:31:01.800 Brandon Johnson: And it’s really unique and how I got started, and so it carries on dance traditions balancing traditions barreling traditions storage storytelling traditions in hot springs, which is a really cool and unique place.

00:31:02.550 –> 00:31:03.600 Joseph McElroy: Oh yeah it’s good it’s.

00:31:04.230 –> 00:31:05.610 Joseph McElroy: A tiny little town.

00:31:05.820 –> 00:31:08.640 Joseph McElroy: it’s got some nice little restaurants there, and you know Nice.

00:31:08.640 –> 00:31:09.840 Brandon Johnson: resort, and they have a.

00:31:09.960 –> 00:31:11.580 Brandon Johnson: New brewery and your.

00:31:13.200 –> 00:31:14.310 Brandon Johnson: pillow grew and brewing.

00:31:14.700 –> 00:31:24.930 Joseph McElroy: And then you can go rafting there and then, of course, I got the rattler the motorcycle ride it’s really great to go to get there from Maggie Valley, so all right.

00:31:24.990 –> 00:31:27.420 Brandon Johnson: let’s take a break one of two towns yeah.

00:31:28.830 –> 00:31:30.570 Brandon Johnson: towns with the Appalachian trail goes through.

00:31:31.020 –> 00:31:31.470 yeah.

00:31:32.820 –> 00:31:38.280 Joseph McElroy: So when we get back we’ll talk more about the music and then the blue Ridge national heritage Area.

00:34:16.200 –> 00:34:32.580 Joseph McElroy: howdy this is Joseph Franklyn McElroy back with a gateway to the smokies podcast my guest Brandon Johnson so Brandon I see that you also make musical instruments you meant you create an effect, some of those are Those are some of your feelings behind you right.

00:34:33.030 –> 00:34:39.660 Brandon Johnson: yeah these two right here or build and I’ve worked on a parent some of those others there yeah.

00:34:40.410 –> 00:34:41.280 Joseph McElroy: I have yes.

00:34:42.120 –> 00:34:46.590 Brandon Johnson: it’s well it really kind of came together with a couple of things I.

00:34:47.850 –> 00:34:55.980 Brandon Johnson: We bought our first house and I built some shelves and it was the first time I ever really worked in wood and I kind of like that my mom’s.

00:34:56.610 –> 00:35:09.510 Brandon Johnson: Father his name is kitty Carlisle was lived in ducking Caroline was a woodworker had a great shop in our Member he would always just whip up toys for me out of the shop, and that was cool and then.

00:35:10.740 –> 00:35:15.930 Brandon Johnson: I had I was working on the Lunsford festival at Marshall university and my friend Roger how.

00:35:16.800 –> 00:35:30.990 Brandon Johnson: repetitive fiddle have a really great influential fiddler from Western North Carolina and I was there as we kind of video and talked about it so that was the first time ever so many that you take the top off of which is something to see it’s pretty violent and scary.

00:35:32.610 –> 00:35:36.450 Brandon Johnson: If you’ve never seen it before and so all those things kind of happened about the same time.

00:35:39.660 –> 00:35:41.100 Joseph McElroy: But we lost a little bit.

00:35:46.530 –> 00:35:48.960 Joseph McElroy: So brandon is temporarily.

00:35:49.200 –> 00:35:49.740 Brandon Johnson: myself.

00:35:49.830 –> 00:35:51.870 Joseph McElroy: and the other is we lost you for a second there.

00:35:51.900 –> 00:35:53.490 Brandon Johnson: Oh yeah okay.

00:35:53.850 –> 00:35:57.690 Joseph McElroy: So you were violent you ripping apart the violin.

00:35:59.820 –> 00:36:05.430 Brandon Johnson: yeah Reuben making one apart so just kind of seeing what that looked like and how it went and.

00:36:05.730 –> 00:36:13.950 Brandon Johnson: I thought well you know, maybe, maybe I should try this and I found one for sale on craigslist for $20 and ask Roger to help me go through it and we did and.

00:36:14.580 –> 00:36:28.830 Brandon Johnson: Then I just started buying cheap instruments off eBay and fixing them and trying to sell them and that’s made enough money to buy the wood to build one and found a good book and just took a lot of time and then have kind of been off to the sense of the race.

00:36:29.610 –> 00:36:32.190 Joseph McElroy: As a fiddle, the only thing you build anything else.

00:36:33.510 –> 00:36:45.300 Brandon Johnson: I am currently building a cello to solve for a very good friend of mine, which is a five-string Baroque instrument it’s between a Viola and cello and it’s actually held across your chest and played like this.

00:36:45.390 –> 00:36:50.640 Brandon Johnson: Oh, and I have plans to build an f5 mandolin like the classic bluegrass mandolin to.

00:36:51.210 –> 00:36:52.410 Joseph McElroy: Everyone, you would play.

00:36:53.100 –> 00:37:06.510 Brandon Johnson: yeah I kind of I don’t have f5 I have a different model and if I was kind of looking for them, and I have this thing where it’s like I want this new instrument, but I probably can’t I shouldn’t buy it because I can probably just build it.

00:37:06.540 –> 00:37:06.840 So.

00:37:10.740 –> 00:37:17.400 Joseph McElroy: I, you know I do a little bit of stuff on the side in terms of creativity I’m an artist as well, so Sometimes I get into that.

00:37:18.240 –> 00:37:27.000 Joseph McElroy: thing like we have the motel and putting art and you know that I create into a lot of the rooms and we want to do, art to go faster and about it all by anybody else’s want to do it myself.

00:37:29.370 –> 00:37:30.060 Joseph McElroy: anyway.

00:37:31.170 –> 00:37:38.280 Joseph McElroy: So let’s talk about you’ve left the academic world downright you’ve taken a full-time job as sort of a big dream job at the.

00:37:38.760 –> 00:37:56.250 Joseph McElroy: Blue Ridge national heritage area, which is an organization that preserves and promotes the natural and cultural heritage of the North Carolina mountains and felt foothills How would you describe what the national heritage area does achieve its missing.

00:37:57.090 –> 00:38:13.800 Brandon Johnson: So we seek to you know to sustain and promote the country, those are the kind of two words that really my in my mind, and I have him in the person at the organization that’s really the most tied into the culture in terms of practice and study.

00:38:15.000 –> 00:38:23.220 Brandon Johnson: So, but we really it’s a really cool organization so then a national heritage is a Congressional designation so Congress has designated that this area.

00:38:23.760 –> 00:38:26.490 Brandon Johnson: The culture of Western North Carolina is important to the.

00:38:27.360 –> 00:38:37.740 Brandon Johnson: To the country, and so we, we have a grants program so matching grants program that we pair with different projects that fit our mission so, for example, we.

00:38:38.070 –> 00:38:53.190 Brandon Johnson: We funded the Cherokee Silbury exhibit it’s on display right now, the museum of the Cherokee Indian we’ve funded a be pollinator pathway we funded signage for a heritage barn display.

00:38:54.540 –> 00:39:02.790 Brandon Johnson: So lots of different things, and we have a trail cultural trails are really kind of our main program so the blue Ridge music trails and blue Ridge craft trails and I’m the.

00:39:03.270 –> 00:39:12.510 Brandon Johnson: program manager for those programs, and so the music Charles is all about connecting people to live, music and the musical heritage of Western North Carolina traditional music.

00:39:12.930 –> 00:39:19.710 Brandon Johnson: And the crowds is about getting visitors to craft, so we want to connect people who are interested in craft with makers.

00:39:20.310 –> 00:39:31.350 Brandon Johnson: arts organizations and galleries, where they can find the authentic handmade 3D craft in western North Carolina have been in Center for craft back centuries into you know Cherokee civilization.

00:39:32.460 –> 00:39:38.190 Brandon Johnson: And so it’s been known, particularly in the 20th century in the 21st century is a real craft Mecca for lots.

00:39:39.210 –> 00:39:45.840 Brandon Johnson: And so I get to drive around and talk to craft people and take pictures and write about and put it online it’s pretty awesome.

00:39:46.410 –> 00:39:48.420 Joseph McElroy: So that’s like the newest program right we had.

00:39:48.540 –> 00:39:49.350 Joseph McElroy: Leslie Hart.

00:39:50.220 –> 00:39:53.820 Joseph McElroy: out here before I guess the public publicity for that right.

00:39:54.420 –> 00:39:56.580 Brandon Johnson: yeah she’s our communications manager.

00:39:57.060 –> 00:40:06.330 Joseph McElroy: So that’s the newest program but it sounds like it’s gonna be a nice success about the music one is well established now right.

00:40:07.020 –> 00:40:08.820 Brandon Johnson: yeah it’s close to 10 years old now.

00:40:09.210 –> 00:40:10.680 Joseph McElroy: And how many venues to have on there.

00:40:11.820 –> 00:40:23.640 Brandon Johnson: it’s well over 200 and so it’s kind of hard to track down because if somebody comes to us with a one-time event will put them on, and you know, promote that event.

00:40:24.720 –> 00:40:35.190 Brandon Johnson: And then say you know, maybe they don’t have an event again but it’s a core of over 200 and kind of expanding as events and venues or concerts happened in different places.

00:40:35.730 –> 00:40:48.360 Joseph McElroy: we’re pretty proud to metal Arc smoky mountain Heritage Center is now on there we’ve had several you know bluegrass events this summer plans and several more next year.

00:40:48.990 –> 00:40:53.850 Brandon Johnson: yeah I hate I couldn’t get down to that bluegrass camp, with their and their necks and Eric Ellison as.

00:40:54.120 –> 00:41:06.570 Joseph McElroy: Well, as those great yeah and then the the the concert they put on that night was like real like old-time you know when you’re growing up in the mountains, you know people would get together.

00:41:06.990 –> 00:41:09.780 Joseph McElroy: And really great musicians and they’d have a party.

00:41:10.110 –> 00:41:17.970 Joseph McElroy: And that’s where they would the band, they would just come together and start playing and they know the songs that they play they know it needs to be some somebody would know how to call it sometimes.

00:41:18.390 –> 00:41:23.700 Joseph McElroy: And you know it’d be ad hoc but it’d be beautiful great music and it was just like that old-timey feel.

00:41:24.780 –> 00:41:26.640 Brandon Johnson: Like in the purest sense yeah.

00:41:26.730 –> 00:41:43.920 Joseph McElroy: Absolutely oh yeah I was like, and of course you know we have sort of a rustic you know stage with a fireplace beside it, you know cement floor, and so it actually felt really authentic to me, I was like it was like I was gone back to going back 40 years.

00:41:45.120 –> 00:41:52.140 Joseph McElroy: yeah yeah 45 years and there, but that, but you know still happening around these mountains.

00:41:52.530 –> 00:41:52.920 Joseph McElroy: So how.

00:41:53.580 –> 00:41:55.830 Joseph McElroy: So how do you find the venues, are they find you.

00:41:57.420 –> 00:42:10.860 Brandon Johnson: um well, so a lot of them are established, and you know we have a contact that they can go to we have a website, we have a Facebook about the weekly newsletter and a podcast that we do with that so.

00:42:11.820 –> 00:42:19.590 Brandon Johnson: You know people can just reach out to us if they have a traditional music event, they want to talk about our websites blue

00:42:20.190 –> 00:42:37.890 Brandon Johnson: leverage music trails on Facebook and the podcast is called down the road on the Blue Ridge music Charles of North Carolina it airs bi-weekly on www. FM that’s been a real pleasure to work on and a new format of writing that I’ve kind of adapted to learn more about.

00:42:38.610 –> 00:42:41.190 Joseph McElroy: cool are you writing the podcast content.

00:42:41.700 –> 00:42:50.940 Brandon Johnson: yeah work with Laura boosting your she’s our consultant great musician herself and we kind of come up with those ideas and bouncing back and forth, and she actually does the voiceovers.

00:42:52.440 –> 00:42:55.680 Brandon Johnson: And so, but yeah that’s been it’s been cool to you know.

00:42:56.910 –> 00:42:57.690 Brandon Johnson: To try to tell you.

00:42:57.780 –> 00:42:59.550 Joseph McElroy: can definitely do and it’s very creative.

00:43:00.060 –> 00:43:02.520 Joseph McElroy: yeah have you been to all the venues or.

00:43:03.720 –> 00:43:04.350 Joseph McElroy: Most of them.

00:43:04.380 –> 00:43:21.390 Brandon Johnson: I have, I have I’ve played it a fair number of the venues and music trails I’ve not I couldn’t check off all of them I’ve seen concerts at lots of them now I’ll tell you in terms of the craft trails I’ve visited probably more than probably 150 craft trail sites.

00:43:22.080 –> 00:43:23.160 Brandon Johnson: Last year and a half.

00:43:24.540 –> 00:43:26.280 Brandon Johnson: So I have been to most of those.

00:43:28.530 –> 00:43:33.060 Joseph McElroy: But what any favorite stick out in your mind, these are the craft rails or the music.

00:43:34.770 –> 00:43:43.950 Brandon Johnson: Well uh definitely in terms of venues I grew up well I grew up in college, I went to the Gray eagle a ton and Asheville.

00:43:44.250 –> 00:43:45.060 Joseph McElroy: Which is not a.

00:43:45.450 –> 00:43:47.730 Brandon Johnson: People know about the grateful, but it’s a great spot.

00:43:49.260 –> 00:43:59.760 Brandon Johnson: there’s a place downtown called five walnut downtown Nashville I should say it’s a wine bar with a really cool small space, but they open up the windows and summer.

00:44:00.810 –> 00:44:01.560 Brandon Johnson: who bought.

00:44:02.700 –> 00:44:16.260 Brandon Johnson: The lunchroom festival at Mars hill named after basketball marlins for and the bluff mountain festival or two really central things to me I played it both of those and a rooster love and I was interim director Glenn’s festival one year.

00:44:17.670 –> 00:44:30.300 Brandon Johnson: For its 50th anniversary year so I’ve kind of really grown up musically playing it for lunch or festival was some great friends of mine, and so, of course, the Meadowlark motel.

00:44:32.250 –> 00:44:32.760 Brandon Johnson: as well.

00:44:34.680 –> 00:44:44.730 Joseph McElroy: Maybe it was you know the value that has been famous for music for a long time right yeah ebbs and flows, but it’s growing is the wrong backup a lot right now.

00:44:45.420 –> 00:44:54.060 Brandon Johnson: yeah definitely yeah yeah I was at the smoking bluegrass festival with a booth at fiddles actually this past weekend and.

00:44:54.810 –> 00:45:03.720 Brandon Johnson: Solved long-range unspoken tradition and the crew brothers and then the dirt Nicholson band was going up the road elevated about a distillery that even so there’s there’s great stuff happening.

00:45:03.810 –> 00:45:08.490 Joseph McElroy: For sure oh yeah and yeah so no I.

00:45:10.200 –> 00:45:21.960 Joseph McElroy: went to the flea market a couple of weeks a few weekends ago and they actually had a bluegrass planet in a little gazebo there and I hadn’t seen that in 20 years so it’s it’s kicking back in.

00:45:23.070 –> 00:45:24.210 Brandon Johnson: Yes, Sir, yes, sir.

00:45:24.900 –> 00:45:31.650 Joseph McElroy: yeah so um so you manage the craft trails and to manage the traditional artist directory as well.

00:45:32.160 –> 00:45:40.260 Brandon Johnson: yeah I work with that that’s something that’s going to be a bigger part of my role next year because we’ve been so focused on the craft show build out but.

00:45:41.070 –> 00:45:49.050 Brandon Johnson: yeah I’ve used the traditional artist directory to book events and to teach classes and so it’s a real honor to get to work on that now.

00:45:50.070 –> 00:45:59.610 Joseph McElroy: I mean it has really great people on there, and I recommend is a resource for anybody looking for all sorts of traditional crafts and music and.

00:45:59.880 –> 00:46:12.090 Joseph McElroy: storytelling artists to do for events and reference, for you know books or whatever it’s just yeah really I really think you guys have done a completely admirable job with that.

00:46:13.980 –> 00:46:15.150 Joseph McElroy: Okay, so a project.

00:46:15.990 –> 00:46:22.320 Joseph McElroy: So we got to take a break and we’ll come back and we’ll finish off we’ll finish up with some of your favorite things to do in the mountains.

00:46:23.610 –> 00:46:23.820 Brandon Johnson: or.

00:46:53.220 –> 00:46:56.640 uninformed about menopause and how it impacts your life.

00:48:26.700 –> 00:48:38.700 Joseph McElroy: howdy this is Joseph Franklin McElroy back with the gateway to the smokies podcasts and my guest Brandon Johnson so Brandon you wrote a short story on the still.

00:48:39.420 –> 00:48:58.020 Joseph McElroy: called the journey called other delights and I liked your opening line, it was a man needs a few things to be consistent in life, so he doesn’t blow away one of those things for me is Saturday breakfast at Maxwell friendlies so with Mexico friendly a real place.

00:48:58.590 –> 00:49:00.180 Brandon Johnson: it’s based on a real place.

00:49:00.270 –> 00:49:01.500 Joseph McElroy: And what’s that real place.

00:49:02.100 –> 00:49:05.130 Brandon Johnson: That real place is called Clarence is friendly lunch.

00:49:06.150 –> 00:49:12.990 Brandon Johnson: And I guess it’s it would be considered, probably in witness North Carolina which is right around Lenore.

00:49:14.100 –> 00:49:24.750 Brandon Johnson: tried to cross the street from small furniture factories and I grew up going there Clarence was really cool guy and I think he’s going out of business now he’s out some health issues but.

00:49:25.200 –> 00:49:38.160 Brandon Johnson: We would go I went to work with my parents in the summertime, and so we would eat lunch break and go there and he would give me a quarter every time we went so I could get something out of his machines in front of the restaurant.

00:49:41.340 –> 00:49:49.020 Joseph McElroy: that’s fantastic I mean it’s nice that you’re able to memorialize some of the things that are been meaningful in your life now.

00:49:50.310 –> 00:50:05.250 Joseph McElroy: I like to take a to give guests, to give a little itinerary I mentioned it to you, so that people listen to this is sort of you know guide to where they might want to go traveling to hear could have some you know some real touchpoints to go to so.

00:50:06.480 –> 00:50:18.750 Joseph McElroy: yeah it goes through breakfast lunch blah blah blah blah, you know things so what you live in the Asheville area, so you know and around, so what would be your Maxwell friendlies breakfast place in the Asheville area.

00:50:19.770 –> 00:50:30.900 Brandon Johnson: Well, I really love breakfast so if it’s not my mom’s breakfast, which is great, it would be my number one would be the Tartan in Lindvall North Carolina.

00:50:31.920 –> 00:50:42.240 Brandon Johnson: it’s Tartan like the Scottish Highland clan pattern, you can bounce heart and mugs I’ve got several I’ve got one on the bench over there with particular tartans on them.

00:50:42.870 –> 00:50:53.310 Brandon Johnson: it covers the menu is a newspaper from the Highland games which happened just very close to their own grandfather mountain property.

00:50:54.450 –> 00:51:04.200 Brandon Johnson: And so, but it’s pretty straight-up breakfast it’s not they have some gentle nods to Scottish fair but it’s more just kind of straight up good southern country breakfast.

00:51:05.340 –> 00:51:18.900 Brandon Johnson: there’s a place actually right across the street from my house here called stony knob CAFE which has an incredible Sunday brunch you’ve it’s kind of thing where you’ve got to get there at like 945 or you’re going to be waiting an hour.

00:51:20.190 –> 00:51:24.420 Brandon Johnson: I really love, a place in downtown just outside of downtown Nashville called five points.

00:51:25.440 –> 00:51:28.680 Brandon Johnson: it’s what it could be right out of luck homered angel in terms of.

00:51:29.700 –> 00:51:37.860 Brandon Johnson: The kind of greasy spoon kitchen diner you know you can sit at the counter and watch the cooks and they’ve got like a treatment you.

00:51:38.790 –> 00:51:58.050 Brandon Johnson: So it’s it literally where five streets come together it’s called five points and then there’s also a place in Mars hill called the wagon wheel, which is a like a good country down-home place and then a place in we reveal come times you may tell I’ve done my research on.

00:51:58.050 –> 00:51:58.740 Joseph McElroy: breakfast you.

00:51:58.770 –> 00:52:00.300 Brandon Johnson: You like breakfast you should.

00:52:00.990 –> 00:52:03.570 Joseph McElroy: You should check out POPs place and Maggie Valley.

00:52:04.590 –> 00:52:06.300 Brandon Johnson: like that, and of course joey’s yeah.

00:52:07.110 –> 00:52:12.060 Joseph McElroy: So if you are after breakfast what would be your favorite hike.

00:52:13.680 –> 00:52:18.660 Brandon Johnson: favorite hike well, we took the other day, a couple of weeks ago we went to the craggy pinnacle.

00:52:20.190 –> 00:52:31.260 Brandon Johnson: And there’s a hike I think it’s just over a mile it’s not incredibly strenuous, but it is kind of appeal and it had been raining a lot, so we were kind of walking through a creek most of the time, but you get to I think it’s.

00:52:31.860 –> 00:52:38.430 Brandon Johnson: 5800 feet at the top, and you have great views down into black mountain it’s in it’s in the black mountains pretty close to about Mitchell.

00:52:39.900 –> 00:52:53.700 Brandon Johnson: And that’s a cool height right off the parkway and then also like so I spent a lot of time in Mars Hill and my life Bailey mountain is kind of the dominating peek around Mars Hill and there’s a they’ve just.

00:52:55.500 –> 00:53:00.810 Brandon Johnson: there’s a like a conservation group that bought a farmstead to create a new.

00:53:00.840 –> 00:53:03.690 Brandon Johnson: trail up to Bailey mountain and it’s about a Three Mile.

00:53:03.690 –> 00:53:14.460 Brandon Johnson: a hike that is a fairly strenuous appeal to the top of Bailey mountain let’s present some really incredible use of Madison county right that’s just a few minutes outside of downtown Mars Hill and.

00:53:14.850 –> 00:53:16.530 Brandon Johnson: I would definitely suggest that.

00:53:16.800 –> 00:53:25.500 Joseph McElroy: Assuming you don’t do a nice picnic lunch, the top which we always recommend and you came back down Where would you go for a nice little lunch.

00:53:27.240 –> 00:53:35.580 Brandon Johnson: Oh man, so my absolute favorite lunch place is called Centerville luncheonette and it’s in North Asheville just too.

00:53:36.240 –> 00:53:47.340 Brandon Johnson: Maybe two miles or so from where I am and it’s actually my neighbor that runs it he’s from Queens and it’s modeled after the luncheonette diner that was in his neighborhood where he grew up.

00:53:48.990 –> 00:53:49.650 Brandon Johnson: In so it.

00:53:50.370 –> 00:53:50.940 Joseph McElroy: looks like.

00:53:51.810 –> 00:53:56.220 Brandon Johnson: yeah yeah so it’s you know just good grilled sandwiches and.

00:53:57.300 –> 00:54:09.720 Brandon Johnson: They do have a nod to like Carolina hamburgers with slaw and Chilean onions and stuff like that, but you know good chicken parm sandwich and Jeff salad and stuff like that, but yeah they’re.

00:54:10.140 –> 00:54:13.830 Brandon Johnson: grilling ham and cheese and hamburgers and tater tots are hard to beat.

00:54:14.070 –> 00:54:21.300 Joseph McElroy: Now, assuming you haven’t worn yourself out from hiking that this is where would you go is a good place to go golf and I know you’re a golfer.

00:54:22.050 –> 00:54:30.300 Brandon Johnson: yeah yeah I would suggest, I really like a black mountain golf club, which is a little bit east of Asheville not too far off about 40.

00:54:31.320 –> 00:54:36.390 Brandon Johnson: I think their claim to fame is like a 747-yard par six.

00:54:37.710 –> 00:54:51.510 Brandon Johnson: Which is a pretty sharp dogleg with some crazy downhill lies it’s more difficult than it should be, but it’s good it’s a good course we have to hit a good array of shots and have to have a good short game.

00:54:52.380 –> 00:55:05.730 Brandon Johnson: So I really like that I also love growth, you know, I have to bring in literature stuff F Scott Fitzgerald spent the summer of 1935 and they both barking and he was off the wagon with liquor so he was drinking like 30 beers a day.

00:55:06.660 –> 00:55:23.730 Brandon Johnson: So there’s some great history and growth bark and the courses and old Donald Ross course it’s all don Ross is a golf designer from a doesn’t know that it’s designed like close to 500 courses in the east coast of the country and so it’s got all the characteristic.

00:55:23.760 –> 00:55:24.690 Joseph McElroy: Raw so it’s.

00:55:25.530 –> 00:55:28.800 Brandon Johnson: For me, it’s gorgeous yeah it’s unbelievable.

00:55:29.070 –> 00:55:38.700 Joseph McElroy: I assume you didn’t need it, one of the restaurants and the grove bug park in which is there, wonderful places and I advise you go try those out where else would you go get a nice dinner.

00:55:39.900 –> 00:55:43.980 Brandon Johnson: I’m going to kind of take the touristy thing here and I’m going to say current a.

00:55:44.910 –> 00:55:55.860 Brandon Johnson: Which is run by chef katie button has a beard award nominee Spanish tapas which is really incredible and then lo Monet’s, which is another restaurant.

00:55:56.490 –> 00:56:06.930 Brandon Johnson: downtown Asheville they there so vj sampler is incredible last time we went my wife’s pregnant, so we couldn’t eat this a VJ which kind of killed me, but I will still go back.

00:56:07.230 –> 00:56:08.280 Joseph McElroy: And maybe those are.

00:56:09.570 –> 00:56:10.650 Brandon Johnson: Little monet’s.

00:56:10.710 –> 00:56:17.370 Joseph McElroy: Monet’s okay my life well my wife loves of each one of our favorite things to do is go to BT so we’ll have to check that out.

00:56:17.430 –> 00:56:20.580 Joseph McElroy: yeah well, I appreciate you being on the show today.

00:56:20.640 –> 00:56:22.050 Brandon Johnson: it’s been wanting to have him in.

00:56:22.350 –> 00:56:27.930 Joseph McElroy: Any other do you have some social media some ways, people can follow you anymore other shout outs that you want to do.

00:56:28.500 –> 00:56:42.570 Brandon Johnson: yeah I have, I have my Instagram for the violins is at bj J violins so if you’re interested, you can check that out or email me at being Jay Johnson f5 at Gmail COM.

00:56:43.020 –> 00:56:51.510 Brandon Johnson: If you want to know more about the blue Ridge national heritage area blues music Charles with witchcraft rails, you can email me at brandon at blue-rich heritage calm.

00:56:51.870 –> 00:57:03.690 Brandon Johnson: And so, definitely check out Blue Ridge heritage calm blue Ridge music NC calm and blue Ridge craft trails calm for more information on that are my day job is I call it.

00:57:04.050 –> 00:57:07.020 Brandon Johnson: yeah well, I look forward to a great honor to have that job.

00:57:07.710 –> 00:57:10.020 Joseph McElroy: I look forward to seeing you in the Meadowlark some time.

00:57:10.110 –> 00:57:11.190 Brandon Johnson: Right, yes, sir.

00:57:11.430 –> 00:57:14.010 Joseph McElroy: Alright cool so close it up.

00:57:15.390 –> 00:57:27.570 Joseph McElroy: We to find out more about this podcast you can go gateway to the smokies Doc fun, we have a newsletter you can sign up to get notified of other upcoming podcasts.

00:57:28.770 –> 00:57:41.550 Joseph McElroy: You and, of course, we have a Facebook page called slash gateway to the smokies podcast where this is a live stream with video the zoom Stream is as is streamed out on there.

00:57:43.380 –> 00:57:58.680 Joseph McElroy: You can this podcast is part of a talkradio.NYC, which is a live podcast station, and that is in New York City, and it goes out with live podcasts every day.

00:57:59.250 –> 00:58:11.100 Joseph McElroy: That are really interesting and very diverse, ranging from you know the spiritual and divine to practical business to tourism in New York City and, in fact.

00:58:11.490 –> 00:58:24.840 Joseph McElroy: The podcast evolves this one is about visiting New York City and I recommend you listening to it, so you can get a nice balance between rural mountain adventure and a city skyscraper venture.

00:58:26.670 –> 00:58:38.700 Joseph McElroy: And and come visit me at both because I live in both worlds, and I thank you all for coming next week, we will have another great show every Tuesday is from.

00:58:39.420 –> 00:58:47.760 Joseph McElroy: from six to seven, we have a new expert and the culture of the smoky mountains adventure coming here and.

00:58:48.330 –> 00:58:54.780 Joseph McElroy: check up to go to the middle of motel calm to find out new current special servicing the mountains right now we have a.

00:58:55.200 –> 00:59:08.700 Joseph McElroy: weekday special you come in on Sunday or Monday night stay three nights where I get one of those free the middle or motel calm and it’s been a pleasure, being a part of this podcast my guest Brandon Johnson, thank you, sir.