Artist: Stephen Flatt
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Song: “White County Shine”
Album: Cumberland Bones
Release Date: April 16, 2021
Label: Flatt Family Music
In Their Words: “My grandparents and great-grandparents resided in White County, Tennessee, specifically Sparta. My great-uncle Lester Flatt and his family also lived in White County/Sparta, not far from my great-grandparents (his brother and sister-in-law). They were a close family and often worked odd jobs together, like working at the sawmill, before Lester struck out as a musician. I doubt Lester was involved in any of the moonshine activities that might have occurred on my side of the family tree, so I’d hate to drag his name into that. Lester was a staunch teetotaler, probably partly due to witnessing the effects of alcohol on friends and family members.
“Although ‘White County Shine’ is a semi-fictional account, it is a very real reflection of my family, my grandfather, the very real mountain moonshine culture, and the potential byproducts that come along with that dark spot of the mountain lifestyle. When the song says, ‘He lost all his money, but he never lost his high,’ that’s real and raw and it’s about my grandfather. I would venture to say that although the song is upbeat and jovial, it probably brings up some bad scars for my dad and my uncles when they hear it. I thought about this as really a generational thing, with generational impacts.
“I went camping with my cousin once on Bon Air Mountain, and he brought a jar of moonshine. When he woke up the next morning, he took a big pull off the shine and exclaimed, ‘You gotta have a shot before breakfast!’ Later, I wrote ‘White County Shine’ with the lyric ‘a shot before breakfast will always do you right’ in the chorus. This song features some of my friends and bluegrass greats, with Charlie Cushman on banjo, Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Justin Clark on mandolin, Steve Hinson on Dobro, Kenny Vaughan on the flattop, and Ronnie Bowman adding some amazing harmony. The song is a fun and entertaining romp!” – Stephen Flatt
Photo credit: Flatt Family Music