Paramount Arts Center Presents the World Premier of

A Musical Tribute to the Heritage of Country Music in Kentucky

This is an original work commissioned by the Paramount

It came to these hills, from places like England, Ireland and
Scotland, carried on the lips and the in the hearts of people far
from home.  It mixed with sounds from Africa, carried by people
who depended upon them for survival.  It grew up on evenings
spent on front porches.  Spent days in coal mines, and riding rail
cars.  It floated into valleys, and walked big city streets.  It
soared out over radio airwaves, to the whole country.  It was
called many things.  “Hillbilly”, “Old time”, “High Lonesome”,
“Bluegrass”.  Two things were certain: this was music, and this
music was Kentucky.
-Excerpt from “Something in the Water,”
Written by Mickey Fisher

It is no secret that eastern Kentucky has been the birth place of
many contemporary country music and bluegrass legends…The
Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, and
Loretta Lynn to name only a few.  But what may be less well-
known is a tale, a true one, that for generations has been
waiting to be told…the story of the conception, the birth and the
discovery of the mountain music from throughout Kentucky. This
is the music that started it all.

For the first time ever, the Paramount Arts Center will present
an original musical and dramatic production titled Something in
the Water This work was specifically commissioned by the
Paramount Arts Center .

Written and directed by Mickey Fisher of Ironton, Ohio, the show
is a musical celebration of the heritage of country music in
Kentucky. It is presented in a unique multi-media format
designed to engage the audience through sight, sound and
emotion as they travel era by era through the birth and evolution
of the music they love so much.

“We are very excited about this production,” said Kathy
Timmons, executive director of the Paramount. “It has been an
interesting process to watch it develop from infancy into this
fabulous creation. I’m even more excited to have the opportunity
to commission this extraordinary work that details the history of
Kentucky’s own music. By commissioning this piece, we will be
employing a very talented and creative playwright from the tri-
state area. We will also be providing work for the production
team and videographers, as well as a top notch cast of
musicians, actors, singers and other performers.”

Commissioning an original work has also taken the Paramount
Arts Center in a new direction. “Until now we have always been
a presenting organization,” Timmons said. “With this production
we have stepped into the role of producer and that just expands
our mission which is to inspire, educate and entertain with
outstanding performing arts and diverse cultural experiences
while preserving a unique historic landmark.”

Paramount marketing director Tyson Compton explains the title.
“People have often expressed wonder that so many generations
of country music and bluegrass legends were born and raised in
towns along Kentucky’s U.S. 23, also known as The Country
Music Highway,” Compton said. This stretch of road has even
achieved national notoriety, receiving designation as a national
scenic byway.

“It is said,” explained Compton, “that someone once asked a
person from our region why there was such a high concentration
of country music and bluegrass talent here in eastern Kentucky
and the reply most often heard was that there must be
something in the water.”

Compton went on to explain that Something in the Water is
reflective in style of Down from the Mountain, a well-known
production that showcases in concert the music from the popular
movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou. “Oh Brother Where Art Thou
was a surprise hit movie that generated a wave of interest in
mountain culture and music that really swept the nation,”
Compton said. “Sometime in the future, we aspire to promote
Something in the Water to other entertainment venues, perhaps
leasing it out for tour – and continue to build on the well-
deserved positive attention our region is receiving.”
and other productions of that type do for their region.”

While Something in the Water depicts the early years of country
music in Kentucky, starting just before the 1920s and running
through the early 1940s, future editions will move beyond that.
“Our concept is that it will evolve and we can move through the
later years and into the current time period, showing the
evolution of the music,”

Collins stressed that this is not a generic production where the
performers will be impersonating particular stars. “This involves
more of a representation,” Collins said. “While it is all based on
fact and depicts real performers, the emphasis is on their music
and the contribution that they made. The performers are
bringing to life the spirit of that artist in that time period.”

One such depiction actually involves a relative of Collins. “My
grandfather, at seventeen years of age, was in a string band in
this area called the Mountain Melody Boys. That group spanned
two generations starting in the early 30s.” Interestingly enough,
Bob Shortridge, who will be performing in the play’s orchestra, is
also a descendant of a member of that group. “In their honor,
we have a group in this production named the Melody Mountain
Boys,” Collins added.

Local historical figure Jesse Stuart also makes an appearance in
the production. Stuart wrote sonnets about Ed Haley, a blind
fiddle player from Catlettsburg who lived and played in the tri-
state area. Some of Stuart’s work will be read during a scene in
which Haley’s story is presented.

"It's important to tell these stories,” Fisher said. “This music is
our history. What makes this show special is the way that it's
told. It combines the best of old time tradition with modern stage
techniques and technology. It's like a wedding: something old,
something new, something borrowed, and something blue. The
blue is the water, the heart of it all".

Timmons knows that the public will be as interested in this
production as the team behind it is once they have seen it. “With
each production meeting, we just get more and more enthused,”
Timmons said. One aspect that has been particularly rewarding is
watching the cast come together and take it to the next level.
“The talent involved is just incredible. They add a vibrancy that
brings this all to life. And their involvement means that they are
making a living through their art here locally, rather than having
to leave the area.”

As the director seeing his own words come to life, Fisher has only
raves about the cast. “The cast is a beautifully diverse group of
people. Many of them are from the music world, and this is their
first stage show. Some of them come from a strong theater
background, and bluegrass and old time music is an entirely new
world for them. Both groups strengthen and sharpen each other,
and everyone gets a moment to shine in what they do best. It's a
remarkably talented collection of people".

Make no mistake though. The end result is nothing short of
amazing. “We’re getting the same high caliber work you would
see in any large city,” Timmons said excitedly. “When you have
the opportunity to challenge a creative person to make the most
of their talent, you get a true work of art. And that is what we
have with Something in the Water, a true  and lasting work of

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