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Warm up to the cold with rock sounds of Fifth Street Saints

Chad Webb, at far right, had an early surprise birthday party at Wood Acres thanks to his
friends and parents. With him are his parents, Wayne and Susan Webb, of Newport. Cha
is a member of the band, Fifth Street Saints that is growing in popularity. The band was
in Hawaii last week so you will read more about this soon in the Plain Talk.
Published: 9:23 PM, 12/06/2013 Last updated: 9:24 PM, 12/06/2013

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Weather took us on a rollercoaster ride last week with a high in the 70s on Thursday in our hometown before cool rain and wind started bringing in the Artic front. By later in the week we all may be shivering on our way to get the Plain Talk from their orange tubes.

Let me share some new information before finishing our chat with Dr. Mike Hood of the Family Practice Center. By the way, Weigelís did get open on Thursday and its offer of Weigelís Club gasoline at $2.91 kept the pumps packed and store full of people. I did see the Plain Talk newspapers in their rack being sold so I bought some plump muffins. You remember we have talked some about the old Witt Apartments near Newport Grammar School. The four duplex apartment buildings were recently purchased by Wade and Linda Wester, who live off Ruble Street a block from their investment. Wade wanted to know more abut what he calls the Dixie Apartments. One caller shared stories from the early 1950s about these. I talked with Cecil Samples after a Plain Talk visitor gave me a tip.

Cecil, a former county commissioner from the late 1970s knows the apartments well because his uncle, Henry Brown, had them built in the early 1940s. Cecil was about 12 years old then and said his Uncle Henry owned these and rented them but I still donít know who actually did the labor and building. Henry was one of four boys and two girls one of whom, Margaret Brown, married Robert Samples, Cecilís father. Cecil said that the entire family moved to Cleveland, Ohio for years. Henry Brown was a businessman and apparently did well financially. The last recollection Cecil has of him is when Cecil visited St. Petersburg, Florida, where Henry owned a mobilehome park. This was in the early 1970s. At 83, Cecil is doing well except for a few aching joints. He retired years ago from the local Ford dealership as a salesman.


Goodwater Vineyard days


By now the grape leaves are gone from the hundreds of feet of muscadine vines growing off Goodwater Road at Goodwater Vineyard. We have been talking with Dr. Mike Hood, who spoke to the Newport Kiwanis Club last month about whatís happening at the vineyard. I will finish for know his comments and hope to do an update early next year for our farming edition and our 2014 Visiting the Smokies magazine.

Remember, now, the vineyard is not producing table grapes but for grape juice that can be fermented into wine. Although Popcorn Sutton often produced drinking spirits, he had no license. At least I was unaware of his moonshine license, but he is recognized as a skilled Appalachian distiller. Goodwater Vineyard is in the process of gaining Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms approval and then licensing by the Alcohol Beverage Commission to ferment grapes. Until then, they have many gallons of grape juice refrigerated.

I was curious if grapes, like many fruit crops, require bees for improved pollination. Dr. Hood said they did not. New equipment and friends with tractors are making vineyard tasks easier. One machine destems and crushes grapes: Unlike the I Love Lucy episode in which Lucille Ball got into the large vat with many other barefooted Italian women to crush grapes the old way. You recall what a purple mess that turned into. The Hoods and Pollards also bought a bottler and bottles from Italy. As to the economics of wine, Tennessee wine fetches $16 to $20 per bottle. Of this the grower makes $2. The best of both worlds, then, is for the grower to also operate a winery. Dr. Hood said that those who do are more careful about the quality of the grapes. Goodwater Vineyard is one of 10 percent of the wine producers that also own a vineyard.


Fifth Street Saints Band


While we are shivering in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains with about two weeks to the start of winter, a group of East Tennesseans, two who hail from Newport, have been admiring surfers and palm trees in Hawaii. It wasnít all play and touring as the men are members of the up and coming band, Fifth Street Saints based in Newport. I first heard about the band a year or so ago when Susan Webb called to give me an update on her son, Chad Webb. Many years ago you recall some stories I did on Wayne Webb, a popular local entertainer. He and Susan live a stoneís throw from my late friend, Lenny Zmich, Old Knoxville Highway. Last weekend the band members were available for me to meet them and talk about how they have been gaining on the modern rock music circuit. This is no easy task because of the shear numbers of talented musicians currently touring the US. Besides Chad the band includes Eddie Self, Joey Davis, of Knoxville, and Shane Hoosier, of Morristown via West Virginia. The members age from Eddie, 31, to Shane, 35, who takes care of their Facebook and online/Internet communications.

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