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History of the C3


2006-When the Campbell Culture Coalition (CCC) was founded in 2006, the first Board of Directors had one project in mind to exemplify it’s mission: a celebration of the music, arts, culture and heritage of our community to help offset negative images, and to raise community pride. Today, that project is known far and wide as the highly successful Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival held at Cove Lake State Park, Caryville. Anyone who has experienced the accomplishments of the CCC owes a debt of gratitude to these early visionaries.

First Board for the CCC

President - Jo Anne M. Myers, Secretary - Trulene H. Nash, Treasurer - Jocelyn W. Griffo, Vice President - Peggy Mathews, Historian - William F. Claiborne, Susie Henson, Tonia Brookman


“Youth Outreach Project of Storytelling, Art & Music” - This project included sharing storytelling, art, and roots music heritage based on the example of Howard Armstrong with emphasis on his roots in Campbell County. Local graphic art business owner and artist John LeMaire presented a slide show and commentary on how Howard learned to paint ; musicians & storytellers Sparky & Rhonda Rucker shared Armstrong’s skills as a great storyteller; musicians Don Cassell and Nancy Brennan Strange were hired to take Howard Armstrong’s musical story to Jacksboro Middle, LaFollette Middle and Jellico Middle Schools. Students from White Oak school were bussed in for the program.

The three disciplines of music, storytelling, and art were demonstrated to students by presenting examples and sharing stories of Howard's life with them. The students were then asked to write a story, and create a piece of art about themselves or their families. The intention of the project was to illustrate Armstrong’s ability to overcome poverty and rise to fame and become a role model for children from a rural, impoverished location. The participants’ art and stories were exhibited at the inaugural Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival!

Concepts for the logos for the Campbell Culture Coalition and The Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival originated by William F. Claiborne; artwork executed by graphic artist, John Pierre LeMaire.

First Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival

Held June 6 at Cove Lake State Park, The Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival featured two stages - one inside the Pavilion - starring Carpetbag Theater, Sparky & Rhonda Rucker, Barbara Armstrong, Maggie Longmire and Free Soil Farm, Nancy B. Strange & Tennessee Sheiks, Charlie Collins, Larry McNeely, Ken Blanton, Mike Webb, Guy and Candie Carawan. Storytellers and a special “Fun Zone” for children were included. The Festival was organized by a leadership team headed by Peggy Mathews, who was the principal fundraiser, and more than 100 community volunteers.


Hosted “New Harmonies - Roots Music in America” Smithsonian Institute Main Street America Traveling Exhibit - Several local citizens were trained as docents to guide visitors through a colorful and educational exhibit featuring musical instruments, and related depictions of famous musicians representing every genre of America's roots music. The impressive exhibit was displayed at the LaFollette Community Center.

“Brighten the Corner Where You Are” - In compliance with the Smithsonian Institute requirements, the CCC also created a companion exhibit to support the New Harmonies Exhibit. It celebrated outstanding musicians who were natives of Campbell County. Outstanding artists featured were Grace Moore, Homer Rodeheaver, and William Howard Taft Armstrong (stage name "Louie Bluie"). There was also a revival of the rich history of the LaFollette Fiddlers Convention, and early radio shows. Weekly live stage performances were scheduled showcasing regional musicians.

"Brighten The Corner Where You Are" video created by Christie Burns, Roots Music Scholar.

Grace Moore, born and reared in Jellico, rose to fame as one of high opera's most famous divas, but always credited her inspiration to the gospel singing she heard as a child in African-American churches near her home, and to the sacred music sung in Baptist and Methodist churches. Homer Rodeheaver of Newcomb/Jellico was long time music director for evangelist Billy Sunday, and first director for Billy Graham. Rodeheaver is credited with preserving countless gospel/Christian songs ("In the Garden"; "Old Rugged Cross"); as publisher of thousands of songbooks used in church services; and as a philanthropist for orphan boys. Howard (Louie Bluie) Armstrong became the most famous black string musician in America. Recounts of numerous other Campbell County natives whose roots music careers took them to the Grand Ole Opry, and gospel or country music fame were exhibited. Weekly live stage performances were scheduled with regional artists. The combined project was open for a full month.

Grant writing/organization led by Jo Anne Myers; research and exhibit design coordinated by roots music scholar, Christie Burns; program implemented with assistance of Jocelyn Woods Griffo; Board of Education school tours organized by Shirley Davis; program made possible by a large corps of volunteers who served as docents and work crew.

Second Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Paint the Town” - was an outdoor arts project developed along a downtown LaFollette street in which multiple art mediums were introduced to youngsters. Youths were encouraged to participate in creating art at a variety of venues. Sidewalk chalk art was among the more popular art forms included in the community event. Professional chalk artists visited LaFollette and demonstrated their skills. Organized by Manuel Mesa and Jo Anne Myers with the help of many volunteers.

Third Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Sounds Like Home - A Night of Music From the Cumberlands” - this pre-festival performance was produced as the first Friday night bluegrass concert starring six- time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley with Steve Gulley. Additionally, the evening featured a reunion of the Pinnacle Mountain Boys, a group founded in the 1930s by Steve's father, Don Gulley, who resides in Tazewell and still performs. Coordinated by Bradley Hanson and Jo Anne Myers with support of the Louie Bluie Festival volunteers.

“Dedication of Armstrong Bridge” - Campbell County native and CCC historian Bill Claiborne was instrumental in bringing Howard Armstrong’s career to public awareness . Bill researched Armstrong’s career and shared his story with many regional writers and musicians so they too could enjoy and celebrate his versatile and enduring career. It could be said that without Bill’s dedication, Armstrong’s story might have remained obscure and essentially unknown by thousands of people in our region. Along with his other countless contributions to the telling of Armstrong’s story, Bill lead a project to name a bridge linking Aspen Street with Highway 25W in downtown LaFollette in honor of this musical son of Campbell County. Armstrong’s widow, Barbara Ward Armstrong, and out-of-state musicians who were friends of the Armstrongs, attended to officially unveil the bronze plaque installed. The dedication ceremony took place following the 2010 Louie Bluie Festival.

Fourth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“The Little Community Theater” - Little Community Theater is designed to offer an opportunity for young people to participate in writing, performing, production, marketing, planning, and engaging the public - global skills they’ll carry into their careers. Organization began by constructing a float for the LaFollette Christmas parade under guidance of Gina Adrian, who mentors the Junior Chamber of Commerce high school students. It was awarded winning float, a $700 prize, which the students contributed toward expenses of their inaugural performance the following year.

“Youth Outreach Art Classes” - The Youth Outreach service project for children's art instruction was launched with a basic project concept suggested by Billie Russell (then administrative assistant to the County Mayor), in which middle school age students made fabric street flags subsequently hung on street lamps in downtown LaFollette. This was an after-school project at LaFollette Middle School coordinated by Manuel Mesa and Joyce Soltesz, 21st Century Grant Program Assistant, UT Extension Service.

This sequed into a second pilot art project introducing basic drawing and painting as an after school program, also at LaFollette Middle School and again coordinated by Mesa and Soltesz. Members of Campbell County Artists Association volunteered to instruct/assist.

Fifth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“The Little Community Theater” - With a very small budget the Jr. Chamber of Commerce high school students' pilot stage production, “A Wish For Campbell County,” launched this service project. A standing-ovation performance was attended by about 300 persons in March. Production was directed by Campbell County Comprehensive High School drama/music instructor, John Edwards, with support by Gina Adrian.

“Youth Art Classes” - Two-dimensional art in two workshops held in Jellico, and two in LaFollette were free to any child whose parents registered them. Flowers/Birds of Campbell County was taught by art teacher Terri Chaniott to elementary to middle school age youth; various media was taught by school instructor Dee Day to Jellico high school students. Multiple exhibits were arranged for the amazing art produced by these youths, most of whom had never had art classes. Project organized by Jo Anne Myers; exhibits and promotion led by Manuel Mesa.

Sixth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Youth Arts Outreach Program” - Two mosaic tile youth art projects for elementary school age children, organized by Manuel Mesa, taught by artists Curtis & Brandy Wilson. The first project produced an oversized table top Owl Mural now permanently placed in the children's section of the LaFollette Public Library. The second project produced a 6 ft by 6 ft wall mural featuring Campbell County' symbol, The Elk. This large mural consists of 100 hand-made Italian tiles that were donated by Mercury Mosaics of Minneapolis, Minnesota and is mounted on the wall in the lobby of the Justice Center in Jacksboro.

All youth art projects feature the signature of every participating child.

Seventh Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


"Roots & Wings" - Launched by Jo Anne Myers as an historical re-enactment festival in downtown LaFollette. Local citizens dressed in period costumes participated in many activities including a play presented by the Little Community Theater called “Dynamite,” based on a true incident in the 1930s when a building was dynamited resulting in an accidental death, and the subsequent trial. Script was written and produced by Campbell County Junior Leadership students. Gina Adrian directed the performance; Sue Vernick was instrumental in costumes and design.

“Tennessee Jamboree” - an historic multi-media documentary of Campbell County's long running radio barn dance music broadcast on local station, WLAF. The film, written and produced by Bradley Hanson, PhD, was funded in part by Humanities Tennessee.

“Postmark LaFollette”- A Christmas event developed to enjoy the recently acquired Old Post Office building by the City of LaFollette. A visit with Santa Claus for some children and a chance to send a letter to Santa for many others were included in this event to enjoy the Christmas spirit and welcome the new opportunity to have yet another venue for CCC projects. A Christmas tree with a village was prepared and put in place for the community’s enjoyment. Jo Anne Myers initiated this project and was assisted by Karen Cumorich, Gina Adrian, and other volunteers.

Eighth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Youth Arts Outreach Program” - Two quilting art projects for middle school age children, organized by Leah Kitts, taught by quilters Sally Newhall & Terri Chaniott. The project was produced by students from the Wynn School and Jacksboro Middle School. The two quilts are hung on the wall in the lobby of the Justice Center in Jacksboro.

All youth art projects feature the signature of every participating child.

“Name The Elk Contest” Produced in conjunction with the Campbell County Mayor’s Office, Campbell County Chamber of Commerce and the Campbell County Board of Education, was spearheaded by Peter Koczera and Manuel Mesa. The contest was aimed at giving the elk on the recently adopted County logo a lasting name. The logo depicts a bull elk set in the mountains by a lake. Working in conjunction with school administrators ballots and ballot boxes were place in all 13 county schools, plus the four countywide libraries where only school aged children were to submit names. In a three week period over 1,100 ballots were submitted by children. The top three names submitted were then put to a countywide vote using public forums and Survey Monkey. The winning name was voted to be “Spirit. The county elk’s name was officially announced at the annual Christmas parade in December.

Nineth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Carpetbag Theatre”  Presenting a half hour program of music and theatre at the three rural mountain school locations of; Wynn Habersham Elementary School, White Oak Elementary and Elk Valley Elementary School in Campbell County. Peggy Mathews, Peter Koczera and Manuel Mesa facilitated the Carpetbag Theatre’s storytelling, music and history of native born son, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong. This program was made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

“Youth Arts Outreach Program” Birds and Flowers of Campbell County previous art work by county elementary aged children hung on display at the Justice Center, Jacksboro, TN.

Tenth Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Youth Arts Outreach Program” A literary arts project, organized by Linda Poland and author Gail Polly. The project entitled "Bridging Generations" was written by students from Lisa Copeland's Honor English Class at Campbell County High School. The eleven stories were published as a book upon completion and the students read their stories to audience at Postmark LaFollette. Copies of copyrighted book ‘Bridging Generations’ were distributed to all county schools and four county public libraries.

“ Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Summit” CCC Executive Director, Manuel Mesa and Board President, Peter Koczera attend Summit on Captiva Island, Florida for 12 national SEED grant awardees, with acclaimed artists and national presenters.

“Youth Arts Outreach Program” Student mural at Valley View Elementary School, entitled ‘Reading Brings Dreams to Life’. Students developed, then created a mural during school hours depicting the theme presented. Mural is 9 ft high x 7 ft wide. Lead artist instructor was Lance Albright.

“Dom Flemons” headliner for Louie Bluie Festival and Grammy Award winner performed concerts at Jellico Elementary, Jellico Middle and Jellico High School.

“‘Together: We are Campbell County’” project initiated for middle school aged children. Children researched and depicted their country of origin(s) and using the flag colors of that country and a symbol representing the country were draw and artisticly displayed on a large 6 ft x 5 ft board. This project was completed March, 2018 and is a great public art work in the Justice Center, Jacksboro, TN.

Eleventh Louie Bluie Music & Arts Festival


“Youth Arts Outreach Program”  Wynn-Habersham Elementary school mural begun entitled ‘Today’s Learners are Tomorrow’s Leaders ‘. Created from conceptual drawings of what the students aspire to become through education. Lead instructor is William Sarno. Mural completed May 10, 2018 with a school wide and public ‘unveiling’.

“Painted City-Scape Garbage Cans”  presented to city of LaFollette, designed and created by local artist Jacob Riggs.