Where Every Family Matters

Studio Tenn Brings Bluegrass to Franklin Church

Rousing, feel-good performances abound in “Smoke On The Mountain” March 23 - April 2.

Studio Tenn is bringing traditional gospel and bluegrass to the historic Franklin First United Methodist Church with the production of Smoke On The Mountain, running from March 23 to April 2.

“This is a very special, site-specific production, with amazing performances and stories that bring a real sense of nostalgia, community and the music of the southern church to the stage,” said Patrick Cassidy, Studio Tenn’s artistic director. “It makes so much sense to host the performances in Franklin First UMC, one of our truly historic institutions, where the church itself and our patrons are central to the show. It will be lively and fun, and certainly a memorable experience as the audience becomes our theatrical congregation.”

About Smoke On The Mountain

Conceived by Alan Bailey from the book by Connie Ray, the show tells the heartwarming story of a Saturday Night Gospel Sing at a country church in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1938. The show features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling group making its return to performing after a five-year hiatus. The score features such numbers as “I’ll Fly Away,” “Rock of Ages”  and “Built on the Rock,” with musical arrangements from Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick.

Franklin First UMC’s history on 5th Avenue South in downtown Franklin dates to 1799, and has the longest-standing worshiping congregation in the city. The Sanctuary is on a site that has been in use since 1869. 

ASL-interpreted performances

One of the show’s characters is June Sanders, who uses sign language on stage to accompany her family’s musical talents. As part of a new initiative, Studio Tenn is partnering with Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (BridgesDHH) for an ASL-interpreted performance of Smoke On The Mountain, which will take place on March 25 at 2 p.m. and include additional ASL support for hard-of-hearing patrons. It is Studio Tenn’s intention to add an ASL-interpreted performance for each mainstage production, including the 2023-24 season that will take place in Studio Tenn’s new Turner Theater, which will open in October 2023 in The Factory at Franklin.

Tickets for Smoke On The Mountain range from $45 to $80 and can be purchased on the Studio Tenn website or by phone at 615-541-8200. Group tickets for eight or more patrons can be purchased with a 25 percent discount at www.studiotenn.org/group-sales or by calling 615-541-8200. 


About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.