Gwen Stefani at Dairy Queen
Gwen Stefani takes a picture with Tishomingo residents, Tina and Carla Lane, while eating at Dairy Queen with Blake Shelton and her family during Easter weekend. (Carla Lane)

TISHOMINGO — No stranger to the music scene, Tishomingo has gained national publicity for its most famous resident, country superstar and The Voice judge Blake Shelton, who owns a ranch nearby. He is also a familiar face at the grocery store and local restaurants.

But the town has also seen its fair share of famous visitors, such as Trace Adkins, Chris Cagle, and more recently, Gwen Stefani, who posted videos of downtown Tishomingo on social media while visiting during Easter weekend with her three sons: Kingston, Zuma and Apollo.

As a result of its new found fame, Tishomingo is a town rich with anecdotes that humanize the artists behind the songs.


The Pickin' Parlor

Tishomingo: A new hub of country music by Tiara Blue

On Good Friday, Shelton and girlfriend Stefani ate at the local Dairy Queen with her children, her brother, her sister-in-law and their children. They sat in a middle booth beside locals Carla Lane and her sister, Tina. Carla said Tina asked for a picture with the famous couple. While Shelton immediately agreed, she said, Stefani hesitated, saying, “Ummm…” Lane said Shelton chimed in, explaining that Stefani didn’t like to take photos with her children and expose them.

“[My sister] Tina said, ‘That’s perfectly understandable,’” Lane said.

Lane said she and her sister sat down and chatted with the artists. Shelton and Stefani had been turkey hunting, and Stefani talked about how she used to work at a Dairy Queen as a teenager, and how the ice cream tasted the same. Then, Shelton gave the children quarters to get toys out of the machines.

“While they were away from the table, Gwen came over and picked my phone up off the table and said since the kids were playing, she would take a picture now,” Lane said. “So Tina stood up, and then Gwen looked at me and said, ‘Squeeze in here, too!’”

Lane posted the image on her Facebook page with the caption, “Can’t go anywhere without someone wanting to take a pic with me!! LOL.”

“She was very down-to-earth,” Lane said of Stefani.

Messin’ around with Chris Cagle

Sam Ritchie, co-owner of Tishomingo’s Boomarang diner, told a story about teasing Cagle last summer when the country artist stopped for a bite in his diner. Cagle’s friend asked Ritchie to call Cagle ‘Dierks Bentley.’ If there is anything Ritchie is up for, it’s some good old-fashioned ribbing.

“When I introduced [Cagle] to [my wife] Debbie, I called him Dierks,” Ritchie said. “He proceeded to tell her he was not Dierks. At that point, I was laughing, and his friend looked like he was going to fall off the stool.”

Father: ‘Miranda will be back’

Perhaps the most poignant vignette occurred just a few weeks ago when Lambert’s father, Rick Lambert, stepped into Boomarang for a meal.

Despite a public divorce, Lambert has kept her Tishomingo businesses open and still owns a farm outside of town that her father visits and maintains.

“Rick asked if we’d seen a decrease in tourism because of Miranda leaving,” Ritchie said. “I said, ‘Things have changed. Tourists no longer come here with the expectation to bump into Miranda on the street, but as far as our business is concerned, I haven’t seen a lot of harm.’”

If anything, Ritchie says Tishomingo’s appeal has broadened outside of the happenstance of seeing celebrities on Main Street.

“Instead, people come in here saying, ‘I heard about your restaurant, and I had to check y’all out,’ or, ‘I heard Tishomingo is a neat little town, and I wanted to come see,’” Ritchie said. “I think Tishomingo is finally holding its own on its own merits.”

Ritchie said Rick Lambert explained that his daughter has not forgotten her ties to the town.

“Rick said, ‘Miranda will be back. Just not right now; she’s not ready.’” Ritchie said. “Matter of fact, that’s why Rick was down. He’s working on a firing range she has down [at her farm]. He said, ‘Give her time, and room to heal.’ And we’re going to do that. We still love Miranda, and we hope she comes back, so we can harass her like we did before,” Ritchie said with a laugh.

‘A music community’

Just as a country singer tells a story with a song, so too does Tishomingo with its people. In this small town, there is a behind-the-music feel in that the artists — or rather the storytellers — become the stories.

“You can’t have too much music,” said famed songwriter Roger Springer, who is also the face of local music venue The Pickin’ Parlor. “And so for our town to become known as a music community, I think is wonderful.”