An Out-of-this-World Farm and Fun Time! - The Birthplace of Country Music
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An Out-of-this-World Farm and Fun Time!

April’s Farm and Fun Time kicked off the fourth season of our popular monthly show! Thanks to our sponsor Eastman Credit Union, Radio Bristol was able to bring Farm and Fun Time not only to those in the audience or tuned in to WBCM-LP, but to viewers far and wide via Facebook Live. Be sure to like WBCM – Radio Bristol on Facebook to tune in every month!

Host band Bill and the Belles kicked off the show blending sounds old and new in their much-loved way, while this month’s “Heirloom Recipe” segment was presented by Grant Hall. Grant’s father purchased the world-famous Dip Dog stand in 1963, and Grant has owned the storied restaurant since 1979. While the actual Dip Dog Recipe is top secret, Grant told our audience that perhaps Dip Dog is not so much about the Dip Dog itself, but about the memories folks make while enjoying them. To commemorate the Dip Dog – which IS NOT a corn dog, by the way – Bill and the Belles wrote and performed a catchy jingle.

Left: Bill and the Belles -- bass, fiddle, guitar, and banjo players -- gather round the mic on stage; Grant Hall, dressed in a checked top, talks into the mic during his "Heirloom Recipe" story.
Bill and the Belles brought their foot-tapping tunes to Farm and Fun Time, while Grant Hall shared stories and memories of everyone’s favorite Dip Dog. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Our first musical guest of the evening was Kansas City, Missouri’s The Matchsellers, a band that blends hard-driving bluegrass with all the grit intact – with science fiction storytelling. The Matchsellers are space travelers from the year 2437, and they took our audience through a lesson on the history of the future, including the Apocalypse of 2137. Beginning with their sensational “Bluegrastronauts,” a song that tells the story of Bluegrass Pioneers on a cosmic journey, The Matchsellers had our initially reluctant audience rolling with laughter. To cap off their unique set, band members donned bird masks while performing a piece about the similarities between pigeons and doves. This hilarious, high-energy performance was only the start to the outstanding evening of music to follow.

Left: A close up of the banjo (man with a beard and glasses) and guitar (woman with glasses in a red top) players of The Matchsellers. Top right: A close up of the fiddler (woman in a grey top and sunglasses) and the guitar player at the mic. Bottom right: Full band, with the fiddler and the bass (woman in a grey top) players wearing pigeon/dove masks.
The Matchsellers charmed the Farm and Fun Time audience with their quirky songs! © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Turning to green thumbs, this month’s “ASD Farm Report” showcased TNT Farm N Greenhouse in Meadowview, Virginia. Here’s a video from our visit:

Our next musical guests of the evening were the Chatham Rabbits, a husband-and-wife duo brought together through music. Austin McCombie and Sarah Osborne McCombie have performed across the country, travelling in a van with their hound dog Ruby. Playing original compositions that pay homage to the old-time tradition, Chatham Rabbits put on a moving performance that included “Blue Ridge Mountain Home” and “Heat of the Day,” songs evoking the timeless struggles and triumphs of the common people of the American South and beyond. In performance music, it is easy to lose the element of human connection, but Chatham Rabbits maintained a strong connection with the Farm and Fun Time audience. The openness Sarah and Austin displayed about transitioning from regular 9-to-5 work to full-time music-making and the difficulties that go with that made their final song, “The Good Things (Outweigh the Bad),” seem like the only appropriate conclusion to their set.

Two close ups of Sarah and Austin McCombie singing together at the mic. He plays the guitar and wears a striped top and black cowboy-style hat, and she plays the banjo and wears a red/orange top and glasses.
The musical chemistry of the Chatham Rabbits made their time on stage a real pleasure for the Farm and Fun Time crowd. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Our last musical guest of the evening was the Becky Buller Band. This all-star band led by Grammy-winning songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Becky Buller was a fitting end to this wonderful night of music. In addition to a number of her own original songs, Becky performed classics such as Don Reno and Red Smiley’s “Country Boy Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the classic fiddle tune “Carroll County Blues.” Playing guitar with Becky was ETSU’s Professor Dan Boner, the director of the university’s renowned Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program. The band performed Dan’s recent highly acclaimed song “West of West Virginia,” and they followed up this heavy piece about the outward migration of Appalachians to the industrialized north with the light-hearted “Mr. Nedski,” a commercial encouraging our Farm and Fun Time audience to visit the merchandise table after the show – though the audience surely didn’t need much more encouragement than the stellar set that preceded it!

Left: The full Becky Buller band, including mandolin, bass, guitar, and banjo players and Becky Buller on the fiddle. Center: A close up of Becky Buller singing into the mic. Right: The Becky Buller band taking a selfie on stage.
The Becky Bueller Band brought a wonderful end to a very special night of music – and they enjoyed it just as much as the people on their feet in the audience! © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make April’s Farm and Fun Time another successful evening of fun and music! Tickets are on sale for May’s Farm and Fun Time featuring Davina and the Vagabonds and Hoot and Holler, and host band Bill and the Belles. We hope to see you there!

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