Hippie Jack Stoddart
It is not easy being a visionary. You need to believe in yourself and your ideas and you need to have the strength, persistence and courage to follow through with your convictions.
Hippie Jack Stoddart had a vision to bring something fresh and new to an area steeped in country tradition. On a small farm situated against the backdrop of the hills of middle Tennessee, he made his vision a reality in the form of the locally produced and nationally renowned television show on WCTE-TV, “Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s.”
For Jack, moving to the Upper Cumberland Plateau was like stepping out of a Technicolor wonderland into a sepia-drenched Hollywood backdrop.
“It was like an old black and white movie,” says Jack. “To go from South Florida, where everything was deco, vibrant and loud, to a place where there is still a possibility to get away from industrialized society, was cool.”
It was a long and hard road to get to the settled and comfortable place where he is now. Hippie Jack Stoddart first moved to the plateau in Overton County with his wife, Lynn (A.K.A. “Munch”) in 1972, during the height of the anti-war movement, which inspired the hippie generation. “Hippie” and “Munch” were determined to escape from the turmoil of mainstream society and entrench themselves in a simpler lifestyle. The land on the plateau, and the people that inhabited it, welcomed the couple with genuine love and affection.
“I don’t know if we chose the Plateau as much as it chose us,” says Stoddart. “There are a very special breed of people (here) and I don’t think there is any place on earth where that kind of indigenous culture exists on any level.” A few short years after buying their 48 acres of land, which included a cabin with no indoor plumbing, the Stoddart’s purchased the 200 acre farm, nestled against the Obey River, where they currently reside. It is here that they raised their children Avery, Jason, Jessica and Silas.
Many nights on the farm neighboring musicians would sit around a fire playing acoustic instruments and singing songs. On one of these lazy nights, Becky Magura of WCTE happened to be in the crowd. She suggested that they film the fireside sessions and the station would air them. It was a suggestion that would forever change the lives of the Stoddart family and their farm.
“Shortly after that we built the stage and after that produced about eight shows for our first series,” said Stoddart. “Some pretty good musicians came through and at first we just played for friends and family.”
Then Jack started his summer music festival.
“The festival just got bigger and last January NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association) picked us up as a distributor,” said Stoddart. “They thought we might get 50 affiliates but now we are well over that with 120.”
Hippie Jack and friends now record four months out of the year at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
“We wanted a place to record in the winter,” said Hippie. “We have an association with (Tennessee State Museum) to record TV shows November through February.”
In everything that he does, Stoddart keeps the traditions of a simple country lifestyle in the forefront. He is also quick to give credit where credit is due and is the first to say that everything going on around him would not be possible without his family and the close friends that wanted the show to be as successful as he did.
“We’re happy to be out here on the farm,” says Stoddart. “We’re beholden to WCTE for giving us this opportunity.”
You can catch a special pledge show starring Hippie Jack and his friends on Dec. 10 at 7 pm on WCTE.
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