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The Sound of Success

Flintstone’s Mike Castleberry sets the stage in front of, behind the scenes

Mike’s Music Supply in Rossville doesn’t just supply mandolins, banjos, fiddles, acoustic guitars and amplifiers for local musicians. The store, which is celebrating 30 years in the music business, as well as owner Mike Castleberry, of Flintstone, have a long list of credits behind their names.

“We are one of the top sellers in the South for Martin guitars,” said Castleberry. “Country music singer James Rogers bought two Martin guitars and a Stelling banjo from me.”

Since Martin guitars are the store’s specialty, Castleberry said he makes personal suggestions to producer Martin & Co. He asked the company to create the No. 1 Lester Flatt guitar in honor of that Sparta, Tenn., musician. He also suggested that Martin build the Andy Griffith model guitar. Both requests were honored and Mike’s Music Supply later sold some of the models.

There are currently 300 different guitars in the store, according to Castleberry.

He personally plays a 1968 Gallagher guitar that is “one serial number away from blind guitarist Doc Watson’s.” Rogers and that International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner aren’t the only cameos in Castleberry’s musical career.

Growing up, he took acoustic guitar lessons from well-known guitarist Norman Blake, of Rising Fawn, Ga., whose music was featured in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and who has recorded with the legendary Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan among others, he said.

“Playing the guitar opened a lot of doors for me,” said Castleberry, who’s been playing acoustic guitar since age 11. “I’ve traveled and met a lot of people and done a couple of shows with Roni Stoneman of ‘Hee Haw’ and with country music singer Charlie Louvin.”

Inside Mike’s Music Museum in Flintstone, he has hosted performances by Ricky Skaggs’ son Luke, Norman Blake, The Grascals and Traditional Grass.

As one would expect, the museum also contains a lot of antique instruments and other memorabilia. For example, models of Roy Rogers-inspired guitars from the 1940s, Gene Autry guitars from the 1940s, a Buck Jones guitar and a Lone Ranger guitar hang on the museum walls. Custom made saddles, a World War II German helmet and uniform, a Joe Namath signed football and a canceled check by American entertainer Red Skelton are some of the many other interesting pieces found inside.

While none of the guitars in the museum are available for renditions of “Stairway to Heaven,” Castleberry does offer guitar lessons by appointment. He still personally plays acoustic guitar in his family band The Fox Mountain Express with his wife, who plays the upright bass.

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