The Appalachian Highlands are alive with music this summer

Jennifer L. Hill May 31, 2024

ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band

Live music stirs the soul and lifts the spirits. From front porch jam sessions with family and friends to major concerts during regional celebrations, music adds to the warmth and enjoyment of summer.

Here are just a few places to hear great live music in the Appalachian Highlands this summer:

  • ETSU’s own Martin Center for the Arts hosts a national touring company production, “Stomp,” on June 4 and 5, followed by “The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA” on Aug. 17 and the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” on Sept. 18 and 19. 
  • Near the ETSU campus in downtown Johnson City is The Down Home, where music fans can hear local artists, poets and both nationally and internationally known bands. (Bands from ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies perform at The Down Home each semester.)
  • Tennessee’s oldest town is the setting for the popular Music on the Square. Each Friday, listeners can bring lawn chairs to Main Street in Jonesborough to hear free bluegrass, jazz, rock, Americana or blues in front of the historic Washington County courthouse.
  • In Bristol, the Paramount will present not only concerts by nationally known musicians but also comedy, a musical and a live podcast recording this summer.
  • The Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, preserves the legacy of the legendary A.P. Carter Family, who were pioneers of American country music in the late 1920s. Performances by both well-known and up-and-coming bluegrass, old-time and Americana acts are scheduled every Saturday evening.
  • Covered Bridge Jams is a free summer concert series featuring local, regional and nationally known musicians at Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge Park.
  • Johnson City’s annual Blue Plum Festival (June 7-8) showcases music in a variety of genres on two downtown stages, in addition to a Kids’ Area, the Plum Fun Zone and Silent Disco.
  • Jonesborough Days, an annual celebration held in conjunction with Independence Day (July 4-6), includes the sounds of regional favorites on the Main Stage, as well as live music and storytelling at Doc’s Front Porch.
  • A highlight of Kingsport’s annual Fun Fest celebration is its Sunset Concert Series (July 25-27), which includes performances by Crowder, Tyler Hubbard and the Goo Goo Dolls.
  • The Appalachian Fair, held each year in Gray, will host a concert each evening from Aug. 19-24 (this year’s acts will be announced soon).

Music fans bring lawn chairs to sit on Main Street, Jonesborough, to listen to Music on the Square.
Fans bring lawn chairs to relax and listen to Music on the Square on summer Friday nights in Jonesborough.


East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911 with a singular mission: to improve the quality of life for people in the region and beyond. Through its world-class health sciences programs and interprofessional approach to health care education, ETSU is a highly respected leader in rural health research and practices. The university also boasts nationally ranked programs in the arts, technology, computing, and media studies. ETSU serves approximately 14,000 students each year and is ranked among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation for students graduating with the least amount of debt.

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