Urban Recreational Space: The “Yee Haw” Brewery




It was mid afternoon when I decided to stop at the microbrewery known as the Yee Haw. After completing some slight maneuvers in order to park my small pickup truck, I began to walk towards the front door, but before reaching my point of entrance I had to gradually weave my way through a gauntlet of customer filled tables and chairs that were surrounding a large fire pit with multicolor flames shooting up across a massive bed of coals, giving a sense of tribal place and security. While many patrons were engaged in multiple discussions, I proceeded forward and stepped up onto a wooden boardwalk, my shoes creating the hollow sounds similar to those of Marshall Dillon’s boots patrolling the sidewalks of Dodge City during an episode of “Gunsmoke.” With the sounds of klump, klump, klump, I reached the front door.

As I turned the knob and pulled the door open, I could immediately hear classic country music, intertwined with the sounds of patrons and their conversations. To my right were the sights and sounds of customers ordering food from the Mexican fast order style food bar located in its own area beside the brewery. The sound of cooking utensils could be heard connecting with the cook’s grill top, creating a metallic clinking noise as food was being flipped and seared to perfection. Further ahead to my right was a popcorn machine, it’s kettle eventually running over with popped kernels of corn. The popping sound becoming more muffled as the volume of cooked corn increased.


To my left, just inside the door, was a vast array of couches, lounge chairs, coffee tables,and high tables with chairs. These high table chairs made a grating sound against the floor as each customer made adjustments.  Further to the left were some arcade games that had their own forms of banging and clanking bells and whistles. These sounds were paired with the giggles and whoops of adults and children alike.

unnamed-1.jpgBehind the arcade games, one could see the enormous stainless-steel vats used for the production of craft beer. These vats, like sleeping giants equal in stature to the great pyramids of Egypt, stood silent behind large glass windows that created their sound barrier.


unnamed.jpgIn the center of the main room, located at the back wall, was the Yee Haw bar. There were four bartenders working behind the bar catering to the thirsts of beer drinkers and beer hobbyists alike. Some of the bartenders were pouring beer from the many flavors available while other bartenders were in conversation with customers. With the sound of beer tappers closing and opening, mixed with the sound of glasses clanging together, and the infusion of country music, I could only feel that these sounds were not just exclusive to the Yee Haw, but to many locations across the globe that created this recreational space.



Looking from the outside, the Yee Haw Brewery, located on the corner of Buffalo Street and State of Franklin, looks like another vintage building. It is one of several others that have been restored during the current renaissance of Johnson City.  This building was originally called the “East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Rail Road Depot” and unnamed.jpgwas constructed starting in 1891. Along with the reconstruction of historic buildings in Johnson City, there have also been some law changes that have been a catalyst for this new business growth of microbreweries in Tennessee. After the 2008 economic downturn, many states had to find new ways to create jobs and revenue. This prompted the state of Tennessee to make law changes that enabled breweries and distilleries to become a viable commodity. These influences have been detrimental in creating urban recreational spaces such as the Yee Haw brewery. Not just for tourism, but also for creating a sense of place for locals in Johnson City.






Recording Transcript #1




Recording Transcript #2



Before the first recording, I asked the bartender if it was ok to record in the Yee Haw and he said it would not be a problem. I was able to set up my recorder in the center of the bar, in the main room. This recording location was directly in front of the beer tappers, facing the back of the bar. There were people sitting on each side of me, involved in various conversation. The bartender also carried on with conversation and pouring of beers for customers. When I made the second recording, I positioned the recorder in the center of the main room. I set the recorder on one of the high tables enabling the recorder to capture a variety of sounds in the Yee Haw. Each recording session was just over five minutes. This meet the criteria of ten minutes for this project.

Down below, one can see the various changes in decibel levels represented by the Audacity program that I used for this project. This program shows the peaks and dips of various sound levels from recording #1. The higher the decibel level the wider the spikes and dips. The shrill sounds of glass clinking together ( approximately 00:04:26 to 00:04:40) gives a much larger display of decibel levels on the waveform.

Audacity App/Program Waveform of Recording #1

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Our project was designed to investigate the sounds of a chosen area in Johnson City. Are these sounds important to Appalachia? The art of brewing and distilling spirits has been a historically practiced craft in the Johnson City area, but now it has recently become legal, intertwining with the historic music of the region. Will this unique cocktail of music and brewing history create an urban recreational space for local residents, and tourists alike, within establishments such as the Yee Haw Brewery?

By recording and analyzing the soundscapes of the Yee Haw brewery I was able to determine that the Yee Haw is a family-oriented environment. The brewing and consumption of beer is only a catalyst for the diverse crowd that gathers at the Yee Haw. My recordings have soundscapes of grown-ups and children alike. This place is not just a sit down and drink beer after work type of establishment, but a gathering place for all of the family to enjoy by featuring arcade games, music, food, and refreshments, also with  indoor and outdoor seating options. The recordings also reveal the friendly attitudes of the clientele and workforce.

It may be worth one’s time to go to the Yee Haw and give it a good, long listen. Not only to the music and patrons, but the entire soundscape of this urban recreational space. Cheers! 

Literature Review


Guzy, Marinna. “The Sound of Life: What is a Soundscape?” Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage May 4, 2017 https://folklife.si.edu/talkstory/the-sound-of-life-what-is-a-soundscape

Rohrmann, Bernard. “Soundscapes: Types and Impacts of Music Imparted in Public Places.” 2006. University of Melbourne, Australia.

Aaron S. Allen, Titon, Glahn. “Sustainability and Sound: Ecomusicology Inside and Outside the Academy” Volume VIII, Issue 2, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/mp.9460447.0008.205

Alison Murray and Carol Kline: Rural tourism and the craft beer experience: factors influencing brand loyalty in rural North Carolina, USA (Journal Of Sustainable Tourism Vol. 23 Iss 8-9 2015

Helen Rosco: Drinking and Remaking Place: a study of the Impact of Commercial Moonshine in East Tennessee, Master’s Thesis, University of Tennessee 2015

Trains Magazine. Tennessee Narrow Gauge. December 1942.

Alexander, Jack. Tweetsie’s Last Trip. Trains Magazine. January 1951.

Jennifer Lauren Francioni: Beer tourism: a visitor and motivational profile for North Carolina craft breweries, Masters Abstract International Vol. 50. No. 06, 2012

Helen Rosco: Drinking and Remaking Place: a study of the Impact of Commercial Moonshine in East Tennessee, Master’s Thesis, University of Tennessee 2015

Alison Murray and Carol Kline: Rural tourism and the craft beer experience: factors influencing brand loyalty in rural North Carolina, USA (Journal Of Sustainable Tourism Vol. 23 Iss 8-9 2015

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