Northeast Tennessee is well-known by tourists for its beautiful scenery, charming cities, rich history, and its flourishing live music scene. Local music in our region has made an impact in not only the smaller, local communities of the region, but also on a larger scale influencing and leading the way in worldwide music trends. Northeast Tennessee and Virginia are major staples in the development of modern country and bluegrass music; East Tennessee State University is the only 4-year university in the world to offer a comprehensive bluegrass music program. Northeast Tennessee is renowned for its undertaking and celebration of their local music scene with local festivals, concert series, and venues embracing and honoring local bands and artists. Each band has their own unique sound and personality
Originating from Russel County Virginia, 49 Winchester embodies the heart of Appalachian Soul music through their bluesy, southern rock tone and soulful sound. 49 Winchester first got their start as an acoustic folk trio in 2013; however, childhood friends, Isaac Gibson and Chase Chafin, began making music together way before that on the banks of the Clinch River and the steps of abandoned buildings in “Old Castlewood” Virginia. The now 6-piece band has gained a strong following from across the region for their unique, electric sound and powerful stage presence. The band is comprised of Isaac Gibson (vocals/guitar), Chase Chafin (bass), Bus Shelton (guitar), Dillon Cridlin (drums), Jake Quillin (vocal/guitar), and Noah Patrick (steel guitar).
Where did your members go to high school/college?
“Our original 4-man lineup were all Southwest Virginia kids. Chase, Bus and I went to Castlewood High and Dillon went to school across the river in St. Paul. Noah, our steel player, joined us less than a year ago, & he was a Castlewood kid as well. Actually, pretty quickly after graduating from Castlewood in 2014, we started playing our first shows.” – Chase
Where’s your favorite local place to perform?
“As much as we love so many different venues in the region, The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room in Johnson City is like a second home to us. It was one of the first out of town shows we ever played in our very early stages of being a band, and it’s the place that shows our progression best, show by show. We have played there with a handful of original songs and 4-piece band years ago, and now we’ve played there as a 7-piece rock and roll show. Teri, the owner of The Willow Tree, has had our back and saw potential in what we were doing from day one.” – Isaac
Can you describe our local music scene?
“It’s really cool to see so many genres represented in our area. Definitely really diverse and full of talent. There is local music to see every day/night of the week somewhere in Southwest Virginia or East Tennessee and from bluegrass to punk to hip-hop there is definitely something for everyone. There is also a ton of mutual respect and support among players in the region and we’re glad to be a part of that.” – Chase
How have you seen our local music scene adapt and change over the years?
“I think live music in our area as a whole has gotten a lot more popular since we began. We definitely have seen some rising stars from Appalachia and a lot of new acts and even venues popping up all over the place. It seems like every small city has an outdoor music series/festival or brewery that showcases local music, and that’s really awesome.” – Chase
“The biggest change for us is the role that we’ve played in this music scene. We started as 4 kids that had never been in a band before, but knew we wanted to do it. 5 years later we have two full length albums and a third one on the way very soon, and there are new, young musicians that meet us after shows and tell us the same things we were telling the old guard that was there 5 years ago. So, we are blessed to have stuck around long enough to see those changes take place because it’s an honor when a kid digs what you do and listens to your music at home.” – Isaac
Can you describe your sound?
“We have been trying to describe our sound for the better part of 5 years now. It’s hard to put a finger on it. We come from vastly different musical backgrounds so it’s a melting pot. It’s not just country music, it’s not just rock and roll, it’s too high strung to be Americana. It’s somewhere in the middle. I think in a lot of ways were just neo-southern rockers with a whole lotta twang. But there’s indie and punk influences in there as well as a ton of blues and soul. We try not to label it as anything, so come catch a show and you can take your pick. Whatever you call it is fine by us.” – Isaac
What makes your band unique?
“I think just the comradery. We have been friends for years and years, longer than we’ve been in a band. I’ve known Chase since we were babies and grew up 50 yards away from him. We are a tight knit group of guys who genuinely love each other and don’t bring any ego or individual agenda into the mix. We all know our role and we all play to it well.” – Isaac
What region/area is the members of your band from?
“I do live in Johnson City now, but we definitely call Castlewood our home base, Russell County Virginia. Castlewood is a small mountain town of about 2000 people, in the heart of Southwest Virginia. So, I think that’s another thing that makes our sound unique, just coming from Appalachia and that upbringing really comes out through the songs and the whole grassroots nature of the band.” – Chase
What’s your favorite part about living in this area?
“For me it’s everything. I love touring and seeing places I’ve never seen, but I always look forward to being back home. I love the people and their demeanor, and I love the natural beauty of this place. It’s unrivaled. I grew up hunting and fishing and playing music in these mountains and I’ll spend my whole life here when I’m not on the road playing songs.” – Isaac
What local bands have inspired or motivated you?
“When we started out I loved The Rickshaw Roadshow, This Mountain, Amythyst Kiah, The Comet Conductors, pretty much every act in the scene. The scene itself is what inspired me, not necessarily to model my sound after anyone but just to get out and start gigging, start making connections and building friendships and sharing ideas with other musicians in the area.” – Isaac
Lastly, if you could spend a day doing anything in this area where would you go and what would you do?
“I’d get out on Cherokee or Boone Lake and catch rockfish till my arms got sore. That’s a perfect day to me. Taking part in the natural resources we’ve got is the best way to experience the region in my opinion. Go hike, go hunt, go fish, go do something. Just get out into some fresh air. Oh, and go catch a show and grab a beer when the sun goes down.” – Isaac