Ciderville defies simple categorization: It’s a country music store, it’s a live music venue, it offers music lessons from area bluegrass musicians, and it’s something of a flea market, but it’s also home to an array of utterly unique installations, monuments, and folk art. One thing it does not do is sell cider. Not anymore, at least.
Owner and musician David West was born on the property, nestled along the Old Dixie Highway, which his family has owned for generations. To hear West tell it, an accomplished Texas muralist fell in love with the surrounding area in 1958 and rented studio space on his family’s land. After the muralist’s wife expressed an interest in making cider, the Texan built her a cidery on the West’s lot. Within two weeks, she lost interest in the venture and the cidery fell to the 13-year-old West.
Being the only game in town—as far as drinking establishments went in this rural area at the time—the cidery became a popular hangout for country musicians traveling along the Dixie Highway, according to West. Spending so much time with the songwriters, a young West took up guitar and banjo himself and continued collecting, learning, and trading instruments through his teenage years until gradually the music replaced the cider.
Today, there is a “Music Barn” that has hosted Chet Atkins, Bill Carlisle, and Kenny Chesney, according to West. The music shop sells a host of bluegrass instruments from guitars to banjos and harmonicas, and a non-musical section offers vintage trinkets, t-shirts, and merchandise, but it’s the non-commercial aspects of Ciderville that is truly confounding.
There’s a car half-crashed through the front of the building, hearkening, as West said, to a time a Cadillac actually crashed into the store; There’s a 9-foot tall rooster in the parking lot named “Ro-Ho” in reference to a 1966 Archie Campbell song about cockfighting; There’s a trio of rusted out, decades-old pick-up trucks with an eerie set of scarecrows behind each wheel; There’s a Cessna rather subtly crashed into a hillside below the parking lot; a wooden Noah’s Ark full of ceramic ducks; And a magnolia tree that is—as a wooden sign reads—“from [the] white house / took [sic] by President Andrew Jackson.”
The closest West comes to explaining Ciderville’s perplexing outdoor art is that he was once in the monument business and thought the installations might draw in more business. Come for the music, stay for the questions.