The CanJoe Company of Blountville, TN began in 1994 as the first ever licensed business, anywhere, to offer on any commercial market the one-stringed musical instrument made from a “string, a stick, and a can”, of the instrument design historically originated by Herschel R. Brown and officially called and publicly identified as the “canjoe”. This new year of 2012 now marks the 17th consecutive year of the CanJoe Company’s continuous operation. Over these past 17 years, there have been many milestones and achievements by the CanJoe Company. Below is posted a few of the top accomplishments from these past years:
December 1994, filed for and received the license by the state of Tennessee to operate as a business known publicly then and since as, “The CanJoe Company”, a sole proprietorship doing business of making, marketing, and selling, wholesale and retail, the unique one-stringed musical instruments named and marketed as the “canjoe”. I was “dubbed” the name “CanJoe*John” by my wife, Paula, in early 1994 while I was entertaining her with my ‘canjoe’. She had become bedridden and was dying from kidney cancer and the ‘canjoe’ always put smiles on her face. I frequently played for her with the same Mountain Dew ‘canjoe’ instrument that was originally hand made as one of Herschel Brown’s first of five, ever made. I then promised her that I’d “do two things” with my ‘canjoe’ instrument, that I’d “someday play the Grand Ole Opry” and that I’d “put as many smiles on as many faces possible!” She stuck up her thumb and exclaimed, “Go for it, ‘CanJoe*John’!” and that very moment began what has now been ‘cantinuously’ going on for the past 17 years.
Debuted and performed with that original Herschel Brown hand made ‘canjoe’ musical instrument in the world’s first ever public stage performance of the “canjoe” instrument, on the stage of the sold out Paramount Theater of Bristol, TN by invitation of the “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe on September 7, 1995; in the grand finale act, along with bluegrass legends Mac Wiseman, Jim & Jesse, and several others.
Created and published the official CanJoe Company website, 1996 to present; many stories published in various magazines, for example the world-wide circulated ‘Beverage Industry Magazine’, 1996, featured “canjoe” story; published in many books, for example “I Don’t Need A Record Deal” by Daylle Deanna Schwartz, (Billboard Books), 2005, as featured contributor, “The Story Behind the Hank Williams Commemorative Stamp” by Beecher O’Quinn, Jr, (McMinnis Publishers), 2005, featured photo with caption, “Strange But True Tennessee“ by Lynne L. Hall (Sweetwater Press), featured “canjoe” story, 2006, “The Way It Used To Was: 1800-1965” by O’Quinn & Clark (McKinnis Books), 2009, special photo contributor, “Images of America: Sullivan County” by Joe Tennis, (Arcadia Publishing), 2008, featured photo and story, “Tennessee Waltzing in the Kitchen Cookbook” by Billy & Sharon Stewart of Ambridge Music, Inc (Morris Press), 2004, featured contributor; aired on many TV news casts and interviews; among others: KYMA-TV11 of Yuma, AZ in 1996, featured interview and performance, WLOS-TV13 of Asheville, NC, 1997, featured news story, WECT-TV6 of Wilmington, NC, 2000, featured interview and ‘canjoe’ performance; many ‘special’ TV news stories, examples, ‘Cable Country News’ of WJHL-TV11 in the years 1996, 2001, 2006, & 2011; WCYB-TV5, many interviews on the “News at Noon” from 1996 to present; several featured interviews, cooking and performing on the “Day Time Tri Cities” show,WJHL-TV11, hosted by Amy Lynn & Morgan King; owned and hosted the weekly aired “Canjoe Old Time Radio Show” on radio WPWT AM870, 2003; Guest on numerous and various local and syndicated radio programs across America such as Nashville’s WSM AM650, IRN Network by Marcia Campbell, 1997, and XM Radio 107 , on Dave Nemo’s, “Open Road Show”, also as special guest of show host, Marcia Campbell, 2007.
Toured as a performing artist regularly on the old-time, bluegrass and country music circuits/venues from 1996 through 2006, meeting and performing for, and/or on stages with many great stars; including Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, Doc Watson, Mike Snider, Clair Lynch, Raymond Fairchild, Dr. Ralph Stanley, John Hartford, Tony Trishka, Little Roy Lewis, Jim & Jesse, Michael & Raymond McClain, Roni Stoneman, Ralph Blizard, John Lily, Mel McDaniel, Charlie Daniels, Mike Seeger, Ricky Skaggs, Mac Wiseman, and many, many others.; became a Tennessee performing artist with the Tennessee Arts Commission performing for the Tennessee public school systems, state and local arts sponsored and related programs, and many other public performance venues; “Mountain Music: Then & Now”, first performance at the historic Cameo Theater, Bristol, VA in the year 2002, a public presentation of the history of old time Appalachian music with performance on several common Appalachian folk instruments, including the “canjoe” instrument; “A Mountain Top Experience”, a music and story presentation for church groups on the ‘why and how’, of the history of the ‘Tour of Smiles’; organized, hosted and held the world’s first ever “CanJoe Festival” in July 1999, in association with the Sullivan County Historic Preservation Group, a day of music, canjoe pickin’ competitions (judged by Herschel Brown, himself), fun, and food on the grounds of the historic SmithHaven Farm in Sullivan County, TN; won first place as the “Best of Show” in competition at the “SlideFest” 1997, held at the Appalachian Fair Grounds of Gray, TN, playing the electric ‘canjoe’ and performing “My Mamma Done Told Me”;
Performed many world famous Nashville venues/stages: examples, ‘Tootsies Orchid Lounge’, 1996; ‘Woolfies’, 1996; ‘The Bluegrass Inn’, 1997; ‘Barbara’s Lounge’ 1998; ‘Lonnie’s Lounge’ 1998, ‘The Nashville Palace’ multiple times from 2000 until 2006, ‘John ‘A’s Place’, several times since its opening 2007; ‘The Station Inn’, as guest of Jimmy Campbell and the “Side Men”, 2000 & 2001;
MerleFest Artist from 2000- 2006; featured performer on the “Little Pickers Stage” and the “Americana Stage”, 2005; performed as opening for Pete Seeger at MerleFest, 2006 on the “Little Pickers” stage; featured performer of the ‘Chitaugua Festival’ of Wytheville, VA, 2007, sharing the stage billing with the legendary, “Joey Dee & the Star Lighters” and the also legendary, the “Platters”; Awarded the 2007 “Bluegrass Instrumentalist of the Year” by the North American Country Music Association, International (NACMAI).
Produced , granted copyright & performance rights, registered with the Library of Congress, registered with BMI and commercially released the first ever in music recording history, the ‘canjoe’ as featured lead instrument on music CD, “One String, One Can, One Man, and One Band”, 2000, now on the SVM Music Group label; released for commercial radio airplay the single track , “Wayfaring Stranger” from that debut CD through HMG Nashville , charting in the top 100 on the “Christian Perspective County Music” charts; recorded and released the second ‘canjoe’ instrument featured music CD the“Uncanny Christmas”, produced by Tom Conrad of Studio City, CA, 2001; released the beautiful music video “Wayfaring Stranger” by producer Dave LeBlanc filmed in pre-Katrina New Orleans, LA for broadcast on cable TV networks across America, 2001, receiving heavy viewing, getting much positive response and with frequent requests by viewers of the Heritage Cable Networks in the southwestern United States areas, NM, AZ, southern CA.
Performed the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, 2000 & 2003; performed on the Ryman Auditorium stage as the fiddler for ‘John Steed & the Red River Band’, on the CCMA Music Awards show, Nov 1, 2001, which was broadcast worldwide on cable networks to >3 million viewers;
Performed the Grand Ole Opry, November 4, 2006 as guest of Mike Snider, was debuted on the world famous stage of the Ryman Auditorum to a sold out Saturday night crowd, performed the tune “Red Wing” for the first time in the Grand Ole Opry history on the ‘canjoe’ instrument with Mike’s band backing me up and aired live to a world wide audience on radio AM650 WSM. Was the highest honor and most exciting four minutes of the ‘canjoe’, so far!
Created the ‘Tour of Smiles’, 2007- present; “A Magical, Musical Tour of Children’s Hospitals”. The ‘Tour of Smiles’ operates as a agape mission to provide chronically ill children and their siblings with simple one-stringed ‘canjoe’ musical instruments to use as ‘smile therapy’. It is a regular monthly scheduled event functioning as a special entertainer of the Child Life department of the Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Johnson City, TN caring for patients of specialty children’s hospitals and their families; visit and provide music entertainment, fun, and donate many cool, “Tour of Smiles” model ‘canjoe’ musical instruments that are freely given to be forever kept, used, enjoyed and shared by those who receive them; performing special events at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Knoxville, TN, such as, “Camp Eagles Nest”, 2007, for kids with cancer, “Camp Cure”, 2007, for kids with JODM, “Jammin’ in Your Jammies”, 2008, an overnight fun event for all former patients of ETCH; “Dream Night at the Zoo”, 2008 & 2009, a night of fun held each year at the Knoxville Zoo for ETCH patients and their families; as well, the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital of Nashville, TN, 2010, a special stage performance in association with “Playing by Air Productions” of Nashville, TN, and presented /donated many ‘canjoe’ instruments for use by the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital’s department of music therapy. The ‘Tour of Smiles’ instruments are each hand made and each are then personally hand delivered to the patients and/or their families where they then receive free lessons and share lots of smiles. There have so far been well over a thousand of these instruments now made and distributed out to many sick kids over these years, always free of any cost to the receivers of these gifts. The smiles on all their faces are ever evident and the musical sounds of cool ‘therapeutic’ “canjoe” musical instruments flow sweetly from the rooms and down the children’s hospital hallways as the ‘tour’ continues now into its seventh year.
Wishin’ all Y’ALL, everywhere, a GREAT new year! WOW!!! Looking forward to 2012!!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!