Cumberland Highlanders celebrate 20 years of bringing bluegrass music to homes

Cumberland Highlanders – via RFD-TV

On July 16, 1996, the first taping of the Cumberland Highlanders television show occurred in London, Kentucky.  Campbell Mercer, also known as Doc Mercer to many, brought along Travis Brown, Claude Haron, Jimmie Hamm, Julie Mercer, and Paul Wayne Jones for that first taping.  It happened behind Doc Mercer’s old farm house in London.  The lone cameraman was Roy Steck, who ran all three cameras.  That first show aired later on July 25, 1996, on WOBZ-TV.

These days Cumberland Highlanders airs nationwide as part of the RFD-TV channel.  Each week, the show features the finest in bluegrass and Appalachian music, from right here in Kentucky.  Doc Mercer and his family have done a lot of work with the Bill Monroe Home Place in Rosine, as well as with the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival. 


In my honest opinion, you won’t find another like Doc Mercer, who has worked hard many years to help promote the original form of American art of bluegrass music.  I give many thanks to Doc for mentoring me while I was doing bluegrass music research while in college.  He also helped connect me with many in bluegrass for interviews over the years.


Congrats to the Cumberland Highlanders television show for 20 years in the making.  May you be blessed with many more years of progress to help promote Kentucky and the world of bluegrass music.


Jessica Blankenship

Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians.  Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County's Ten Under 40 Award Recipients.  In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky.  She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more.  Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.

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