368 Miles of Music

Take a sweet-sounding Southern road trip from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll

By Robert Thatcher

Paul Simon hit the road in the early 1980s seeking inspiration. His drive from Louisiana to Memphis became the song “Graceland.”

This road trip may not give you a song, but it will surely inspire anyone who loves music. Hop in for a drive to four musical meccas.

“Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers”
Muscle Shoals, AL

Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

This river town is all about musical beginnings. So start at the W.C. Handy Home and Museum, the log-cabin birthplace of the “Father of the Blues” in Florence. Stand by the piano where he wrote “St. Louis Blues” — and the blues were born.

Muscle Shoals is also the humble birthplace of another sound that shaped modern music. Think “Brown Sugar,” “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Free Bird.” It’s hard to believe these global standards and more were recorded in two small buildings here — Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Tour dim rooms where “the Swampers” mixed gritty R&B and country soul to create the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” Then record your own demo at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in nearby Tuscumbia.

All this music will leave you with a question. Why Muscle Shoals? Locals say the answer is at our last stop, Tom’s Wall, near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Tom's Wall in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Tom’s Wall in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Resident Tom Hendrix built this mile-long monument to his great-great-grandmother, a Yuchi tribe member. Forcibly removed during the Trail of Tears, she’s the only person to make the long walk back to Muscle Shoals. What motivated her?
She didn’t hear the river singing to her in Oklahoma. But she heard it here.

On the Menu: Dine with a view at Florence’s 360 Grille, Alabama’s only revolving restaurant, or under a rock at the Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia. Also, slurp down “The Harvey” milkshake at the Palace Ice Cream Shop in Tuscumbia.

“Long-distance information give me Memphis, Tennessee”
Memphis, TN – 151 miles via Highway 72 West

W.C. Handy’s musical road led to Memphis. So follow him to the street he made famous for the blues.

Whether you want authentic soul food or live music, Beale Street has it all. And for a full dose of blues, visit May 1-3 during the Beale Street Music Festival.

Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

Rivers and railroads made Memphis a melting pot of musical styles. Blues mixed with country to form rockabilly. And it all combined with a rhythmic force named Elvis Presley to create rock ‘n’ roll.

Start where he started — Sun Studio. In 1953, an 18-year-old Elvis walked into this corner building with a cheap guitar and a dream. Stand where Sam Phillips helped make the dream come true for Elvis and other stars including Muddy Waters, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.

Then drive to where the dream ended. Tour Graceland’s colonial mansion, visit the grave, view the airplanes — and pay tribute to a talent that left our world too soon.

If you arrive between Jan. 7-10, help Memphis blow out the candles for Elvis’ 80th birthday celebration. And sing “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!”

On the Menu: Rendezvous Ribs (If there’s a wait, try TOPS, Central BBQ or Corky’s.)

“I’m goin’ to Jackson, look out Jackson town”
Jackson, TN — 88 miles on I-40 East

On the way to Nashville, stop by the International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson.

Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn.

Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn.

The brainchild of Henry Harrison, this museum is aptly located in Carl Perkins’ hometown, between Memphis (home of rock ‘n’ roll and blues) and Nashville (home of country and hillbilly music).

But Harrison is quick to point out that this tour is not about glittery memorabilia. It’s about stories of the stars as ordinary people. These stories come firsthand. Harrison claims to be a childhood friend of Johnny Cash, classmate of Elvis and the man who once repossessed Jerry Lee Lewis’ car.

“We don’t tell you how many gold records Elvis had,” Harrison says. “Everybody can look that up. But we do have a picture of Elvis playing touch football beside Humes High School when he was in the 11th grade, wearing Converse tennis shoes and a pullover top. And he was just one of us.”

“There’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two guitar pickers in Nashville”
Nashville, TN — 129 miles on I-40 East

It’s fitting to end our musical drive at the dream destination for would-be stars.

But don’t be fooled by this city’s honky-tonk past. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline is now filled with skyscrapers. And the “Country Music Capital” is now a center for all kinds of music — bluegrass, blues, Americana, jazz, you name it.

The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn.

The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn.

Start with a stroll down Music Row and Broadway, the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry. Take in the record labels, browse Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop and pause by publishing houses. Then tour historic RCA Studio B to sample the famous “Nashville Sound” from the ’60s.

You’ll also want to tour the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown. This former tabernacle was home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, and it still hosts the “world’s longest-running radio show” Nov. 1 to Feb. 4. Otherwise, head to the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown.

Many come to Nashville with a guitar and a dream. So before you leave, catch a rising star at a “writer’s night” — one of Nashville ryman_exterior_night_01Nashville’s small acoustic sets for songwriters to try out new material. Try the Listening Room Cafe or the Bluebird Cafe.

On the menu: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is a mouth-burning must. But you’ll need a hearty breakfast to fuel your drive home. Try the Pancake Pantry, a Nashville tradition since 1961, or the Loveless Cafe. You never know when you might see a star enjoying a good flapjack, too.

Secure Your Future Today

Do the paperwork and planning now to protect your small business from cyber threats long term

By Michael Ramage

Michael Ramage is the Associate Director f the Center for Telecommunications Systems Management at Murray State University.

It is easy to be consumed with the immediate needs and concerns of cyber security. These are important, but a small business should also plan ahead to secure its future by creating cyber security policies, plans and strategies that will reduce the risks posed by the bad guys of cyberspace.

In the first two parts of this series, we looked at the cyber security threats facing small businesses and practical steps to protect against those threats. In this final article, we’ll look at longer-term strategies for small businesses to address their security needs well into the future.

  • Policy Development – Security policy development is often overlooked but is very important to organizations. This will likely include a number of separate policies that provide the guiding strategy for all security activities within the company. Suggested policies include general Internet usage, computer security, physical security and even social media usage. Templates for these policies and others are available from the Sans Institute at www.sans.org/security-resources/policies.
  • Asset Identification – Any security planning process should include asset identification. Consider what you have that needs to be protected (customer information, personally identifiable information, banking information, corporate secrets, etc.). Also, consider what would impact your business the most (Internet outage, building collapse, server failure, etc.). Asking these questions will help you realize your true assets.
  • Security Assessment – Once a small business takes the initial steps to secure its network, it should consider undergoing an assessment to see where vulnerabilities and challenges still exist. The primary goal of a security assessment is to help you learn where the challenges lie in securing your business. Many assessments are conducted by external partners to ensure a thorough and unbiased review.

There are many free resources available online to help with your company’s cyber security planning efforts. Two are the FCC Cyber for Small Biz (www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz) and the SANS Institute (www.sans.org). Consideration of federal requirements should also be included throughout the entire planning process.

Cyber security is the responsibility of everyone in your small business. Cyber security should not be an afterthought. Security matters!


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What to do when calls don’t come through

Hand With PhoneRural call completion continues to be a challenge, as people experience failed connections and poor call quality when making long-distance or wireless calls to rural landlines. While the FCC and Congress have taken steps toward a solution, there is still something you can do to help.

If someone has trouble completing a call to you from a long-distance or wireless telephone service provider:

  1. Encourage them to report the issue to their provider. They will need the date and time the call was attempted, plus the calling and called telephone numbers.
  2. Encourage them to report the problem to the FCC by calling 888-225-5322 or visiting
consumercomplaints.fcc.gov. They will need the date and time the call was attempted, the calling and called telephone numbers and the name of their long-distance or wireless telephone service provider.
  3. Call your local phone company and provide the same information so they may work with the long distance or wireless provider to isolate the problem.

Popularity of online video is growing

Online video is bringing consumers greater entertainment choices, making broadband even more important. A recent study by networking company Ciena predicts that average household bandwidth requirements will increase by 31 percent annually over the next five years, as viewers connect their smart TVs and devices (Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc.) to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu and more.

Do you enjoy online video? Share your story at www.HowDoYouBroadband.com

Rural Connections

You are part of a nationwide rural family

Shirley Bloomfield (right) commenting at the White House Rural Council meeting. Listening to her presentation is Doug McKalip, senior advisor for rural affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Shirley Bloomfield (right) commenting at the White House Rural Council meeting. Listening to her presentation is Doug McKalip, senior advisor for rural affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council.

By Shirley Bloomfield, CEO
NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association

In my role at NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, I work with your telecommunications provider and nearly 900 others like it all across the country. Every day I am reminded of their dedication to building connections that support strong communities. When basic telephone service was what everyone needed, they were there. As broadband has become a vitally important resource for economic development, education, health care and more, they have focused their energies on building the best networks available.

And they do not stand alone. These rural providers understand that to serve you best they must stay on top of what is taking place in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission. To do that, they stand together on issues of common concern, speaking with one voice to make sure our nation’s leaders understand the needs of rural America.

This publication is another great example of that spirit of collaboration. By working together, telcos across several states are sharing important information about their companies and keeping you updated on news that impacts rural America.

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being invited to the White House, along with several leaders of rural telecommunications companies. We met with the White House Rural Council to talk about what rural telcos just like yours are doing to support community development. It was another great example of us all working together to shine a spotlight on the good work being done by your provider and hundreds of others like it.

From success stories on health care, education and public safety to efficient energy management, rural telcos have shown time and time again that they are not only the brains behind the networks they deploy, but also proven solution providers with a track record for adapting to and embracing change, and most importantly, responding to the needs of their communities.

Because of that cooperation, you as a customer or member of your local telco are part of an even bigger family that stretches across every region of this country. In the months ahead, I look forward to sharing stories with you about what these telcos are doing at the national level to ensure rural America stays connected.

Reaching out in times of need

Web-based support networks offer help

Angie Pennington, left, and Gina Campbell met face-to-face for the first time after emailing for more than 14 years.

Angie Pennington, left, and Gina Campbell met face-to-face for the first time after emailing for more than 14 years.

Angie Pennington was a nervous wreck during the entire flight.

She worried and fretted over what was to come. But it wasn’t a fear of flying that had her stomach in knots.

It was concern about meeting the woman that awaited her when she landed.

The woman Pennington was to meet wasn’t a complete stranger to her, even though they had never actually met. They had communicated through email for more than a decade. They had shared personal stories and served as sources of support during times of tragedy.

“She was a great support for me when I needed it most,” Pennington says. “We were a support for each other.”

After trying for several years to have another baby, Pennington suffered a miscarriage in 2000. She was overwhelmed by a sense of loss and turned to an Internet support group for help. It was there, in an Internet chat room, that she met Gina Campbell, who was going through a similar experience.

The two women lived almost 2,500 miles apart, but they emailed and offered support to one another for more than 14 years.

“We have developed a friendship over the miles that has survived thanks to the Internet,” Pennington says.

Pennington is the office manager at Mountain Telephone in West Liberty. Campbell is a homemaker near Seattle, Washington, but broadband Internet erased the miles and brought them together.

Pennington knows now that there was no need to be nervous the day they met in a hotel lobby in Seattle. The two women hit it off great and haven’t looked back.

Pennington was in Seattle for a conference and met Campbell for the first time.

Pennington was in Seattle for a conference and met Campbell for the first time.

“It wasn’t like we were seeing each other for the first time,” she says. “It was like we had known each other for so long.”

Campbell says Pennington wasn’t the only one worried about the meeting. She was afraid 14 years communicating online would somehow not be the same in person, but there was no need for concern.

“I didn’t want our relationship to change once we met, but the second I saw her it was as if I had known her all my life,” she says.

Pennington and Campbell, both of whom have had more children, continue to communicate regularly. They continue to email, text and share pictures of their families. And although they have only met in person that one time, they continue to be a big part of each other’s lives and are making plans to see each other again.

“It amazes me how two moms all the way across the country can have so much in common, share the same concerns for our children and be concerned about the same issues,” Pennington says. “She’s become one of my best friends, and she is someone I rely on for advice.”

Online Support

Even though they had just met, they say it was if they had known each other all their lives.

Even though they had just met, they say it was if they had known each other all their lives.

Support groups bring together people with similar experiences and situations to help each other cope with difficult times. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and may also offer practical advice and tips.

To find a support group, search online for state or national organizations devoted to your condition or situation. Email lists, newsgroups, chat rooms, blogs and social networking sites are available for people in need of support for almost any reason.

A taste for technology

Morgan County ‘Foodies’ are feasting on Facebook

By Brian Lazenby

David Bradley, left, looks over Larry Lewis’ shoulder at food photos posted on their Facebook page.

David Bradley, left, looks over Larry Lewis’ shoulder at food photos posted on their Facebook page.

David Bradley’s grandmother is responsible for his love of food and cooking. He remembers that she always had a snack waiting for him when he got in from school. She taught him about canning and freezing. But most of all, she loved to cook with her family.

“She always wanted her grandchildren to be with her in the kitchen,” Bradley says. “She would walk you through a recipe every step of the way. I don’t think she ever made anything that tasted bad in her life.”

Larry Lewis shares a similar love for food and preparing delicious dishes.

“I have always had a passion for cooking food,” he says. “For me, it’s a stress reliever.”

The two Morgan County men began posting a few recipes on Facebook along with photos of their latest culinary creations. They soon learned they had quite a following. As a result, they launched their own page, “Morgan County Foodies,” that has grown to reach more than 400 like-minded food lovers from all across the country.

“It’s a group of people that come together to share recipes, food ideas and their love of cooking and eating,” Lewis says.

Most of the members on the Morgan County Foodie page are local, but some are from other parts of the state, as well as from Florida, Ohio and beyond. And even as the number of members continues to grow, it hasn’t lost that local feel.

“It really seems like about 10 people sitting around the dinner table talking about food,” Lewis says. “Even though we are miles apart, it feels like we are dining together. We may begin talking about a recipe, but it could turn into an hour-long conversation about anything.”

Bradley says most of his food is typical country cooking, and he tries to use as many locally grown products as possible. Lewis’ recipes are often less traditional. Bradley calls them “exotic” and says he uses a lot of unusual spices and flavors. But that is one of the great things about technology and social media. Broadband Internet, which they get from Mountain Telephone, connects them to other influences and cooking styles, bringing them together like a giant melting pot.

“Technology brings in new influences and new ideas for cooking,” Bradley says. “There really are a lot of great cooks out there, and this network brings them together.”

While the group’s interactions have thus far been limited to digital dining, Bradley and Lewis say they are planning some potluck dinners where members can meet and socialize with one another in person and share some of their favorite recipes.

“Food can really make you feel good,” Bradley says.

For more information about the group, or to join and share your love of cooking, visit Facebook and search: “Morgan County Foodies.”

The Morgan County Foodies group mostly comes from the local area, but there are some members from as far away as Florida. They are a diverse group with different specialties, but they have one thing in common ­­— a passion for cooking and eating.

The Chop Shop

Locally owned, locally grown

By Brian Lazenby

Jonathan Whitt, owner of The Chop Shop and JSW Farms, offers homegrown meats in Hazel Green.

Jonathan Whitt, owner of The Chop Shop and JSW Farms, offers homegrown meats in Hazel Green.

Farmers markets are readily available to offer locally grown produce and promote the benefits of buying locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Locally raised meats, however, are a little tougher to find.

But The Chop Shop, a meat processing facility in Hazel Green, is working to make sure area consumers have meat choices that come from area farms.

Consumers can rest easy knowing that all meat processed at the facility comes from farms in this area and is raised by local farmers. Meat processed at the facility is available at select area supermarkets or at The Chop Shop’s retail store.

“Everyone is looking for a top-quality cut of meat, and they want their dollar to stretch further,” says Paul Marsillett, plant manager at The Chop Shop. “We are making that happen.”

Inside the retail store, consumers will find coolers full of locally grown beef, pork, lamb and goat as well as other goods produced in this area such as spices and jellies. There will almost always be freshly cooked samples for customers to taste and recipes for how to prepare the meat.

“All livestock coming into this plant was raised right here locally,” Marsillett says. “And we like to have cooking tips and recipes available to customers, so they know how to prepare our items at home.”

Keeping it local

The Chop Shop processes locally raised meat on site and retails its products to the public.

The Chop Shop processes locally raised meat on site and retails its products to the public.

Buying locally grown products is a booming segment of the food industry that shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

Business at The Chop Shop is no different. Jonathan Whitt, who owns JSW Farm in Wrigley as well as the Lee City Stockyard, opened The Chop Shop in October 2013. The facility currently has about 30 employees. He says the rate at which they are processing animals and retail sales continues to grow.

Marsillett says there are many reasons for the growth, but it all boils down to providing a better piece of meat.

“Locally grown meats processed in a local slaughter plant provide a better, more wholesome product,” he says.

A processing facility like The Chop Shop keeps the money in the local economy, provides jobs to area workers and must meet stricter safety and sanitary regulations than butcher shops that purchase the meat already slaughtered and simply carve it for the consumer.

Marsillett says most of the meat processed at the plant comes from JSW Farm in Wrigley, but the plant will also process private and commercial orders. The meat is then sold at local retail stores as well as on site.

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Agent Daniel Wilson helped The Chop Shop acquire grants from the Kentucky Agricultural Development to build freezer facilities. He says the plant provides a much-needed service to area farmers, who typically raise their animals to a certain age, then sell them to another producer who will grow them further until they are ready to be processed.

“We just need to teach them how to finish their animals in preparation for this facility,” Wilson says. “It’s a completely different way of doing things than what they are used to. It takes a little more time and personal investment, but with a processing facility like this one, they should see a good return on that investment and have the satisfaction of knowing they are producing for their neighbors.”

Modern meat

Most consumers in the United States have no idea where the meat on their plates comes from or the conditions in which it was raised, slaughtered and butchered. Many feel it is best not to know.

Cheryl Prater cooks up fresh sausage at The Chop Shop for customers to sample.

Cheryl Prater cooks up fresh sausage at The Chop Shop for customers to sample.

But Whitt says The Chop Shop has to meet strict USDA guidelines that ensure the facility is one of the cleanest around. From washing their shoes when going from one area of the plant to another to the handling of knives and tools, everything is strictly controlled.

“There is a USDA inspector on site 5 days a week,” says Whitt, adding that retail butchers who buy their meat already quartered can then cut it up without regulations or inspections. “Anything coming from here, we can’t do that. We have some of the strictest cleaning guidelines you will come across.”

The facility is an example of modern technology. The doors separating one cooler from the next, or one section of the plant from another, slide open automatically and slide closed behind you.

There are 18 cameras throughout the facility, and thanks to broadband Internet provided by Mountain Telephone, Whitt can monitor the video feeds from his home. If a cooler is not functioning properly, he gets an automatically generated text to his phone. And he can monitor and adjust the smoker from his home. “It’s completely state-of-the-art,” he says.

For more information about The Chop Shop, look for them on Facebook or call 606-662-4121.

Whitt says locally grown meats are healthier and a better product than meat from animals raised in large, industrial farms.

Whitt says locally grown meats are healthier and a better product than meat from animals raised in large, industrial farms.

The Chop Shop 

Location: Just north of the Mountain Parkway at the Lee City exit (126 KY 205 North).

Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Holiday Hours

Happy Holidays from Mountain Telephone

The Mountain offices will be closed during the holidays to allow our employees to spend time with their families.

The offices will be closed Nov. 27 and 28 for Thanksgiving.

Offices will close at noon on Dec. 24 and will remain closed Dec. 25 for Christmas.

Offices will also be closed Jan. 1, New Year’s Day.