Pick 5! Get Outside and Celebrate National Great Outdoors Month This June! - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Pick 5! Get Outside and Celebrate National Great Outdoors Month This June!

For our “Pick 5” blog series, we ask members of the Radio Bristol team to pick five songs within a given theme – from heartsongs to murder ballads and everything in between! Once they pick their “5,” they get the chance to tell us more about why they chose those songs. With a diverse staff of knowledgeable DJs, we’re sure to get some interesting song choices, which might introduce you to some new music, all easily accessible by tuning into Radio Bristol! This month’s “Pick 5” is from Toni Doman, host of Radio Bristol’s Mountain Song & Story airing Thursdays at 4pm!

Isn’t it ironic that I’m stuck inside writing about how badly I want to leave the office and enjoy the great outdoors? I’m so ready to enjoy the month of June and kickstart National Great Outdoors month! What could be better than taking in the fresh mountain air and soaking up sunshine (with proper sunscreen, of course) while in sight of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains?

This summer, I’ll be doing my best to take advantage of all that the Tri-Cities area has to offer: hiking, biking, paddling, you name it! There truly is something out there for everyone to enjoy, and you don’t have to be an expert in outdoor recreation to have a great time. Some of my favorite outdoor activities in and around the Tri-Cities include hiking to visit the wild ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park and taking it easy in the shade near South Holston Lake. Other great spots stand out such as the Virginia Creeper Trail, which extends from Abingdon to Whitetop, or you can even explore the local entry points to the Appalachian Trail, which covers 14 states spanning over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine! Nothing quite compares to the unique scenery of the Appalachian mountain landscape, and Roan Mountain State Park also has some stunning views. These are just a few of the great places where you can embrace Mother Nature and all she has to offer in the local area – check out Visit Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association to learn more!

Left: The rolling mountains of the Blue Ridge stretch out in front of a green hill with several grazing ponies. Right: The author stands on the short of the lake with her face turned to the sun and holding a big slice of watermelon.
Left: Wild ponies roaming the mountain at Grayson Highlands State Park in Grayson County, Virginia. It’s a beautiful view from the top and well worth the hike to get there!  Right: Enjoying a little slice of life at South Holston Lake! Photographs courtesy of Toni Doman

Now that you’re as excited as me about our nearby natural beauties, here are a few tunes that are sure to get you ready for camping (it’s in-tents…) and all things outdoors this June!

“Where the River Meets the Road,” Tim O’Brien

Grammy winner, singer-songwriter, and West Virginia native Tim O’Brien released the album Where the River Meets the Road in 2017 with Howdy Skies Records. The full album pays homage to his West Virginia roots and features songs that have a connection to his home state. With influential artists like Hazel Dickens and Bill Withers, it is also a tribute to prominent artists that are associated with West Virginia. As a native of the mountain state myself, this classic album generates nostalgia for Appalachian culture and is sure to get the listener in touch with their mountain roots.

“Sunshine on My Shoulders,” John Denver

After a long and seemingly endless winter, I’ve been in serious and dire need of sunshine on my shoulders. Influential and notable singer-songwriter John Denver’s melancholy folk song makes me feel like I’m floating down a lazy river with not a care in the world. The song made its first appearance on Denver’s album Poems, Prayers & Promises released in 1971, and according to songfacts.com, Denver’s inspiration and reason for writing the song was that he wanted to spend more time outside enjoying the sunshine. I think we can all relate!

“My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains,” The Carter Family

The slow-moving melody and repetitive lyrics of this classic Carter Family song invoke a feeling and longing for the journey home. Originally released by Decca records with lyrics written by A. P. Carter, this version of the song was recorded on June 18, 1937 in New York, a time when the career of the Carter Family was in full swing. Anyone who has passed through the Blue Ridge Mountains can likely relate to the feelings of being drawn to these hills and valleys.

“Lewis & Clark,” Tommy Emmanuel

The outdoors can often be a place for us to practice individual self-reflection, to set out on adventure, and to explore new sights and sounds. Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel takes you on an instrumental journey, inspired by the real adventures of Lewis & Clark. Maybe this tune will inspire you to start your own journey!

“Green Green Rocky Road,” Dave Van Ronk

American folk and blues legend Dave Van Ronk was an influential and prominent figure in the American folk music revival. “Green Green Rocky Road” was composed by Len Chandler and was one of the most requested songs over the course of his career. The song lyrics were largely pulled from a traditional African American children’s song with the melody added to and rewritten. As with all music, songs can take you on a personal journey, and for me this song evokes a sense of travel and longing to get lost out in nature.

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