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Tom Wopat Focusing on Music, Surprised by 'Dukes of Hazzard' Popularity

Tom Wopat Focusing on Music, Surprised by ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Popularity

Actor, singer and songwriter Tom Wopat will be appearing in Gatlinburg on Saturday for a meet and greet event, then later an intimate evening of music and conversation.

Wopat springboarded to fame in 1979 when he won the role of Luke Duke in the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Following the cancellation of the series in 1985, he went on to numerous other roles on TV series including “Cybil,” Peaceable Kingdom,” “Home Improvement” and many others.

While establishing himself as an actor, Wopat has made significant inroads on the Broadway stage performing in numerous plays including “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “The Music Man,” “Chicago,” “A Catered Affair” and “Annie Get Your Gun” in which he played opposite Bernadette Peters. He has been nominated for an Emmy and two Tony Awards.

Throughout his career Wopat has recorded 11 albums and 10 singles, five of which made the top 40. He is currently performing in concerts and playing a recurring role as Sheriff Jim Wilkins in the TV series “Longmire.” In two weeks, Wopat will begin shooting a movie in Wisconsin entitled “Delight in the Mountain” in which he plays an Italian mobster.

Wopat’s music has seen a metamorphosis over the years as he has performed an eclectic mix of musical genres including rock and roll, country and most recently, jazz. His latest solo work was an album entitled “I’ve Got Your Number” released in 2013. He also teamed up with John Schneider for the album “Home for Christmas” in 2014.

“I like songs that tell a story,” said Wopat. “I like ‘Ode to Billy Joe’ because of the story behind it.”

Along with covering the works of other artists, he has written some of his own songs.

“On my last two Jazz albums I wrote three of the songs myself,” said Wopat. “My musical influences are James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and the Eagles. My recordings are a mix from the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

Don’t miss a chance to meet Tom Wopat in person and hear him perform. On Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, he will hold a meet and greet 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Cooter’s Place Gatlinburg, 542 Parkway, where he will sing and meet fans of the show and his music. He will sign photos, memorabilia and his CDs. Later that evening at 7:30 p.m. he will perform an intimate show at the Glenstone Lodge, 504 Historic Nature Trail in Gatlinburg. Click here for ticket information.

“I am surprised by the continued popularity of the ‘Dukes of Hazzard,'” said Wopat. “It has become a part of pop culture. There has been a lot of controversy over the show since that shooting in Charleston. But the Dukes was a family oriented show and there was nothing racist about it. As far as the flag is concerned, I understand both sides to the argument and originally paid little attention to the controversy.”

The TV series was remade into a movie in 2005, featuring a new cast. Many critics and the original cast members deadpanned it. “I never went to see the movie they made a few years ago,” said Wopat. “I made it a point not to see it. It was a slacker movie.”

Wopat dismissed any thoughts of a Dukes reunion. For now, he is concentrating on his music and other TV roles.

About Michael Williams

Michael Williams has written for more than 60 newspapers, magazines and web sites including the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Citizen Tribune. He is a resident of Gatlinburg Tennessee and has written five books including “Great Kids In History”, “The Legend of the Red Ghost”, “The History of Eastern Sevier County”, “Stranger Than Fiction: the Lincoln Curse” and “Famous Kids in History.”
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