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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Music & History at Kingsport's Netherland Inn

The Netherland Inn Bluegrass Jam in Kingsport, Tenn., mixes music and history.
The Netherland Inn Bluegrass Jam in Kingsport, Tenn., mixes music and history.

Weekly Bluegrass Jam held September-May

By TIM CABLE | CABLE COUNTRY | September 13, 2010

*** Published Sept. 12, 2010 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***

Talk about a place with a positive vibe. There's history and heritage around Kingsport's Netherland Inn. There's also harmonies and a hoedown. The vibrations of bluegrass and old time music reverberate around the historic site each Friday night from September to May.

"We call it The Netherland Inn Bluegrass Jam," director Mike Smith said. "This region is rich in history, even when it comes to bluegrass and rural music. So, this historical place here, Netherland Inn, was just a natural to do the music."

The old inn is situated on the banks of the Holston River.

"The main significance of the site is that William King established a boatyard here in the early 1800s," Netherland Inn Association President John Scott said. "His port here became the name of the city, Kingsport. This is the only national site on the National Historic Register that was both a boatyard and a stagecoach stop."

Now, where stagecoaches once rattled and rolled with wooden wheels, musicians play wooden instruments on a stage.

Where flatboats once floated, flat pickers and fiddlers fire off riffs and rhythms.

"No matter what you're experience level is, whether you're a beginner or a professional, you're welcome to come here and join in the music," Smith said. "But, it is strictly acoustic we don't have any electric instruments in here."

The weekly jam is an add on to the Bluegrass on Broad music series of concerts that occurs from May to September in downtown Kingsport.

"After the summer was over, we had local bluegrass players looking for a place to gather and pick and jam," Smith said. "So, we decided to jam this Friday night session in between the months of September and May. It gives players a warm place to jam during the colder months."

It gives bluegrass buffs a good, historic place to listen to the music. Thanks to the jam's corporate sponsor, Pal's, admission is free. They do take donations for their coffee fund.

"Oh yes, we're gonna have hot coffee," Smith laughed. "Each and every Friday night, you can count on hot coffee."

Just like the coffee, the heritage of bluegrass and old time music continues to percolate at The Netherland Inn.

"If we have anything to say about it, this music will always remain an important part of this region," Scott said.

"I love this Friday night jam session," Smith said. "Being a Kingsport resident all my life, you know I'm pretty proud to be able to stand here and say, "hey, we're doing something significant on the grounds that this city was formed on'."

For more on the Netherland Inn, visit

CABLE COUNTRY is on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:55 p.m. on 11 Connects. Tim Cable welcomes story ideas and can be contacted at or (423) 434-4545.

A! ExtraTopics: Family, Music