top of page
mountain background only.png

Tune History

Knoxville Old Time logo

The Stories Behind Your Favorite Tunes


Tennessee Girls

John Dykes Magic City Trio
from Kingsport, Tennessee

John R. Dykes (1868-1938) gave up his main occupation of coal mining in the mid 1920’s and moved to the new city of Kingsport, Tennessee. The town was nicknamed “Magic City'' because it had grown so quickly and was being built as a “model city” by the owner of the Clinchfield Railroad.  Editor's note: There is quite a bit of information online about Kingsport being the “Model City”, but official/press references to “Magic City” were not readily available. Maybe only in local archives or lore?  Kingsport people, let me know.

Dykes was invited to New York in 1927 to make records for the Brunswick label after he and banjo player Dock Boggs were chosen from over 800 other musicians who auditioned for Brunswick talent scouts at the Norton Hotel in Norton, VA.

Dykes, autoharp player Myrtle Vermillion, and guitar player G. H. “Hub” Mahaffey made up “Dykes Magic City Trio”, and ended up recording 14 sides for Brunswick. Boggs is also credited in some of the recordings. Tennessee Girls can be found on Brunswick 120 B, which was recorded on March 27, 1927. The A side is Cotton Eyed Joe. These fiddle tunes were clearly aimed at the dance crowd; Hub Mahaffey's "vocal effects" on Tennessee Girls are dance calls.

Researcher Charles Wolfe’s liner notes from Old Homestead Records 1987 release “Dykes Magic City Trio – String Band Classics - Volume I” are a great resource to learn more about the band. As one video commenter rightly observed, “(The Trio) are one of those groups that you don't hear too much about but really deserve more attention.” 


John Dykes is influencing fiddlers still today. Here is Fiddler Brad Leftwich on John Dykes from The Birthplace of Country Music's "The Root Of It" series. 

For a detailed source of information on Appalachian fiddlers and their music, including Charlie Bowman and John Dykes, the Mel Bay publication “Appalachian Fiddle Music” is highly recommended. Written by Drew Beisswenger, Scott Prouty, and Roy Andrade, Director of Old Time at ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies, Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music.

Foghorn Stringband Tennessee Girls

Merlefest 2016

Golden SlippersDykes Magic City Trio
00:00 / 03:01
bottom of page