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Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; audience asked to be seated by 6:55 p.m.)
Location: Performance Theater at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Most performers whose livelihoods depend on not contracting Covid-19 will currently not perform indoors, at least not in small venues where the audience is close. Since we want to continue to have Farm and Fun Time in the intimate confines of the Museum Performance Theater for recording for PBS telecast, audience members, staff, musicians, and artists in attendance will be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours” for entry.
Join us in the intimate performance theater at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for WBCM Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time live variety show with special guests The Crooked Road All-Stars, The Blue Ridge Girls, and The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, brought to you in partnership with our friends at The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
Hosted by Kris Truelsen and his house band Bill and the Belles, Farm and Fun Time is a re-imagining of the classic WCYB Radio program of the same name that aired in the 1940s and 1950s. Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun broadcasts live before a studio audience and recorded for television syndication on PBS stations across the South. It can be accessed on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area, or online at ListenRadioBristol.org and on Radio Bristol’s free mobile app. Viewers may also tune in to watch through Radio Bristol’s Facebook page.
About The Crooked Road All-Stars
The Crooked Road All-Star Band features the combined talents of Junior Sisk, Linda Lay, Sammy Shelor, and Jesse Smathers.
Junior Sisk is widely recognized as one of today’s top bluegrass vocalists and is a constant reminder that traditional bluegrass is still alive and well. A longtime resident of the Virginia Blue Ridge, his bluegrass pedigree runs deep. His 2011 album “Heart of a Song” helped bring the band into the spotlight and eventually was named IBMA Album of the Year in 2012. Its single ‘A Far Cry from Lester and Earl,’ which Sisk co-wrote, became a rallying cry for a resurgence of traditional sounds in bluegrass and received the 2012 Song of the Year Award from the IBMA. Sisk was furthered honored when he was named 2013 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year, while his band earned the 2014 SPBGMA Bluegrass Band of the Year award. In 2016, “Longneck Blues,” a collaboration with noted singer-songwriter Ronnie Bowman, was named Recorded Event of the Year by the IBMA. Most recently, Sisk received the 2017 Male Vocalist of the Year award from SPBGMA.
Linda Lay grew up in Clayman Valley, a tiny community named after her family outside of Bristol, Tennessee. She grew up surrounded by music in a family that treasured tunes, from old-time and bluegrass to gospel and traditional country. Linda founded and led Appalachian Trail, an innovative bluegrass band that performed for more than 20 years. In Appalachian Trail, Linda truly found her voice, becoming not just the band’s lead singer but one of the most beloved singers in bluegrass.
Sammy Shelor joined Lonesome River Band in 1990 and still performs with them today. As one of the most sought after banjo players in the business, Sammy guests with numerous other artists including recording and performing (The Late Show with David Letterman) with country superstar Alan Jackson (“The Bluegrass Album”), Zac Brown Band, and more. Sammy has received a multitude of awards and recognitions during his impressive career including his induction into the 2009 Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, 5-time recipient of the IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Award, 2011 winner of the 2nd Annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, and 3-time winner of the SPBGMA Banjo Performer of the Year Award.
Jesse Smathers is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist from Eden, North Carolina. In 2009 he won the guitar championship of the Virginia Folk Music Association. The following year, he began his career as a touring musician with the James King Band playing mandolin and singing tenor and high baritone, and later rejoined the band performing on guitar and vocals. In 2014, Jesse joined Nothin’ Fancy. The same year, he was also inducted as a honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity, as a Sinfonian, joining such greats as John Phillip Sousa, Count Bassie, Duke Ellington, and Andy Griffith. In 2015, LRB welcomed him to the group and in 2017, Jesse won the IBMA Momentum Award for Vocalist of the Year. Heavily influenced by the music that runs in his family, Jesse has found inspiration and takes pride in his musical family lineage. His grandfather, Harold Smathers, and grand uncle, Luke Smathers, recorded for June Appal and were awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993 for their contributions to North Carolina Folk.
About The Blue Ridge Girls
The Blue Ridge Girls, like their name, invoke a picturesque simplicity with their take on traditional mountain music. The trio features Martha Spencer, Jamie Collins, and Brett Morris, and features a variety of old time, bluegrass and country songs, flatfooting to fiddle and banjo tunes, original songwriting, and unique takes on other familiar crowd-pleasers. All three women grew up in musical families and are working to preserve and promote the Blue Ridge’s rich musical heritage. The Blue Ridge Girls traveled to historic Muscle Shoals, Alabama during the summer of 2021 to record their first album, which is expected to be released in 2022.
About The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters
The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters have been playing old time mountain music in the Galax, Virginia, area since 1986. Today’s group is named for the original Bogtrotters of the 1920s, the premiere old time band of their era. The present day line up consists of guitarist Dennis Hall, fiddler and vocalist Eddie Bond, his wife Bonnie Bond on bass and vocals, Josh Ellis on banjo, and Caroline Noel Beverley on mandolin. The band has won innumerable old time band contests and often provide the backup music for dance competitions. Along with their seemingly endless string of local gigs, the band’s performances have included the Smithsonian Folk Festival, Chicago Folk Festival, Great Lakes Folk Festival, Montana Folk Festival, the Kennedy Center, and many others. Eddie Bond was recently recognized with the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that the United States bestows on traditional artists. He has also won uncountable fiddle contests and twice been named Best All-Around Performer at the Galax Fiddlers Convention—arguably the highest honor in old-time music.
About Bill and the Belles
Bill and the Belles is a Johnson City, TN-based band known for combining a stringband format with their signature harmonies, candid songwriting, and pop sensibilities. Their delightfully deadpan new album, Happy Again, is full of life, humor, and tongue-in-cheek explorations of love and loss. Bill and the Belles is Kris Truelsen on guitar, fiddler Kalia Yeagle, banjo/banjo-uke player Aidan VanSuetendael, and bassist Andrew Small. The group has a knack for saying sad things with a bit of an ironic smirk, and anyone who’s been to one of their shows can attest that you leave feeling lighter and refreshed. This is a band that revels in the in-between: deeply engaged with the stringband tradition and eager to stretch those influences to a contemporary setting. A timeless place where Jimmie Rodgers and Phil Spector can overlap, and a driving fiddle and banjo tune makes way for a sentimental parlor song. And while Bill and the Belles’ latest chapter offers a bigger, moodier, and more decade-ambiguous sound, they maintain their status as the most refreshing stringband around. Visit the band’s website at BillandtheBelles.com for touring and more information.