PRINCESS THEATRE - Raising the Curtain: March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I spent Tuesday with Bill Landry, his Roane State Media Production class, Michael Golebiewski, and Brooks Benjamin down Lantana Road out of Crossville, Tennessee. To tell the truth, I haven’t spent a more pleasant day in some time. We all were in the company of “old-time string band” legends Audine and Ed Webb, who are the heart of one of the most dynamic and most requested bands in the central South, the “Lantana Drifters”!

Remember how folks used to make you feel at home and made you feel like they were actually glad you had come? That’s exactly how we all felt the entire afternoon Tuesday. We strolled the yard with either Edd (as Audine spells it), as he proudly showed off his 100 acre farm, or with Audine, as she pointed out years of hard work in building her rock and flower collections. They are “salt of the earth” people who would give you the shirts off their backs. They greeted us with cookies, crackers, chips, and cold bottles of water and insisted we take some for the road as we left.

Edd and Audine will be joined by the complete band at the May 16thAppalachian Dreams” show. The talent will include master fiddler Charlie Acuff, cousin to Roy, live on stage! Charlie has been with the “Drifters” for around 15 years. Their “string band”, an ensemble of musicians playing mostly stringed instruments, will be accompanied by Audine on her washboard, and Ed will most certainly show off his spoon playing and his “flat shoe” dancing. Even at 85, Ed can still out dance younger enthusiasts, and is a “flat shoe dancing idol” to others.

Audine and Ed are examples of what America used to be…self-sustaining and hard working people. If it’s daylight, we’ll be outside doing something,” Ed said, proudly pointing out the load of hardwood he and Audine had cut and split the day before down in the woods. We built all these buildings…that barn over 40 year ago! When it gets too dark to work, we come in and play music!

I listened amazed as Bill Landry interviewed the two “young” folks, listening to their experiences, the people they had met, and places they had been. I was also deeply touched by how they still enjoyed each other’s company and how they enjoyed playing and dancing for the video camera. I can hardly wait for you to see this video and see how much life, fun, and love is still in this couple. They’ve been married for nearly 63 years, and still held hands Tuesday as they out walked us up across their field to the top of a hill overlooking their beautiful lake.

Please come join us on May 16th, 2PM and 7PM, at the Roane State Theater. I guarantee you’ll go away with a deep sense of pride in our area’s history, patriotism, and diverse talent. All proceeds go to the restoration of the Princess Theater.

For more photos CLICK HERE.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Just a reminder to our readers…the Princess Theater’s biggest fan and supporter, Muse Watson, will be featured in to upcoming television shows. Be sure to support him and realize, as you watch, that you share a common bond!

· "The Mentalist" as Jake Cooby in the episode entitled "The Carnelian Corp" will air March 24th on CBS.

· "Cold Case" as John Norwood in the episode entitled "November 22" will air April 26th on CBS.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church, located at 1455 Joiner Hollow Rd., was founded in 1857, and the current facility was built in 1895. Phillippi is one of the oldest churches in Roane County, and has a long history of community service and involvement.

This last Wednesday evening, the Princess Productions crew, including Bill Landry’s Media Production class from Roane State, filmed the church’s choir practice and discussed plans for the choir’s involvement in the “Appalachian Dreams” show coming up on May the 16th.

The crew was treated to a very spiritually fired and moving practice session that will be shared with everyone attending the May show at the Roane State Theater.

Here is a photo of the choir, with the exception of Mr. Jerry Eskridge, who is shown in a separate photo with Bill Landry, both resting between takes:

THE PHILLIPPI PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH CHOIR - Front row: Aryia Stover, April Chrisco, Whitney Moore, Mae Eskridge, Ri’Brazsha Davidson, and Barbara Moore. Second row: Andrew Derrick, Mary Kilgo, Rosetta Jones, Alexus Moore. Back row: Kenneth Moore, Jr., and Keith Eskridge. Not shown in this photo is Jerry Eskridge (see below).

The church has had a long line of Deacons and Elders, beginning with Jim Bacon (left), Elder Ford, J. C. Eskridge, J. B. Harris, Rue Eskridge(right), through today’s church leader Elder Phillip Corbett. Elder Corbett likes to joke that the church was named after him, but everyone knows that the name comes straight out of the Bible and the churches of Paul.

Today’s church is still full of Rue Eskridge’s family, so the church is blessed with plenty of God-fearing, gifted singers, and great cooks! I overheard Mary Kilgo and her sister Mae Eskridge going over this Sunday’s church dinner, and I’m seriously considering going! Let’s see, there was ham, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and then there was something about a red-velvet cake! Sounds like Thanksgiving to me! Seriously, everyone is always welcome at Phillippi!

Not only will the choir be in attendance at the May show, but I think you’ll be blessed with a live performance or two. Get your tickets now, on sale at the Rocky Top General Store and the Harriman Jewelry Exchange.

Let me leave you with a photo of Michael Golebiewski, Elder Phillip Corbett, Bill Landry, and Mary Kilgo.

What a great group of folks, and we thank you so much for inviting to your choir practice. We were blessed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Get you tickets to the May 16thAppalachian Dreams” show, with Bill Landry, at one of these two outlets:

Harriman Jewelry Exchange

509 North Roane Street, Harriman, Tennessee, (865)882-4000

Or the Rocky Top General Store

316 Ruritan Road, Harriman, Tennessee, (865) 882-8867

Tickets are only $15.00 each and the show starts at 7 PM! See you there!

UPDATE! There will also be a 2 PM matinee that Saturday! Plenty of tickets for everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


From the very beginning of our blog experiment, we have been hoping to get feedback and memories like this one from our readers and supporters.

Anne Wiggins Carmon, as a child, lived in Harriman with her parents and her brother Charles. Both Anne and her brother had Harriman Record paper routes. She remembered that each year Walter T. Pulliam, publisher of the local newspaper, recognized his carrier-salesmen with prizes and free passes and refreshments at the Princess Theater!

In the attached newspaper clipping (click on it to enlarge it), Charles Wiggins is second from the left (with glasses) in the second row. His sister Anne is next to him (third from left). This particular year, believed to be 1969, the top salesmen were given model cars with transistor radios!

The Wiggins children’s father was a minister in Harriman for many years. He later moved his family to Cincinnati, OH, but the memories of the Princess Theater have remained strong with the Wiggins children.

Please share you memories and old photos with us!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Princess Productions, along with Roane State, and other Princess supporters, are working on many entertaining stage events for the May 16th show at the Roane State Theater. Here are a few of the tentative acts that will be performing during this production to benefit of the Restoration of the Princess Theater. Many other acts and entertaining video documentaries will be added as the time grows nearer to “show time!”

Muse Watson, star of many Hollywood movies and television shows, will be sharing his vision of “The Dream” for the Princess Theater, live and on stage.

The “Pick “N” Grin Bluegrass Band” will perform, featuring Larry Mathis and Bud Brewster, who used to play along with Dolly Parton in the early days.

“JD” Williams, local World War 2 hero, will be interviewed by Bill Landry.

There will be music by “The Chickadees”, live and on stage singing many of the “great war” standards accompanied by the music of the Babahatchie Band.

There will be dancing provided by Jennifer Austin’s “Arts in Motion” dancers.
Brooks Benjamin, local school teacher and independent filmmaker, who was married last year in Princess by Mayor Mason, will present an entertaining “short” of one of his movies that was shot in the Roane County area.

There will be an interview of Dr. Terry Stephens by Bill Landry, as part of the Gene Pickel story.

There will be a video presentation of the Phillippi Primitive Baptist Choir, an interview conducted by Bill Landry, with live music on stage.

There will also be live music by Charlie Acuff and the Lantana Drifters.

This agenda will be tweaked as “show time” draws near!

Stay tuned!
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