Fall in Love with Farm and Fun Time - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Fall in Love with Farm and Fun Time

Two photos: Left, Martha and Larry singing together; Right, Martha flatfooting on the stage while Larry plays banjo.

With today being Valentine’s Day, it’s also a great time to fall in love with Farm and Fun Time! Our February 8 show swept our captivated audience off their feet with that special blend of music, stories, and celebration that Farm and Fun Time has become known for with all those who attend or experience it online.

Getting into the lovey dovey spirit of Valentine’s Day, our Farm and Fun Time host band Bill and the Belles kicked things off with a set of love songs. Following these romantic ditties was Amy Campbell who presented the evening’s “Heirloom Recipe” segment. Sharing the stories of people who preserve the region’s foodways as the producer of Tennessee Farm Table, Amy is no stranger to the culinary traditions of Appalachia and the American South. Amy told the story of Kilt Greens, a recipe that was often prepared out of hard times and necessity by pouring grease over any type of greens. Amy learned the recipe from watching her grandmother prepare the dish, and she shared how when eating this simple earthy dish, it transports her to another place and time to her family’s Mississippi roots. To commemorate this recipe, Bill and the Belles sang a song about the seemingly violent but oh so tasty act of killing greens.

Three photos -- one of Carl, Bill and the Belles bass player; one of Bill and the two Belles singing and playing; and one of Amy Campbell at the mic during her "Heirloom Recipe"
Bill and the Belles sang of broken hearts and love found, while Amy Campbell makes mouths water with her story of kilt greens. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Our first featured musical guests were two of southwest Virginia’s most celebrated old-time musicians, Martha Spencer and Larry Sigmon. Franklin County’s Larry Sigmon is known across the region for his rollicking banjo style, making him beloved by dancers everywhere. Radio Bristol’s own Martha Spencer from Whitetop, Virginia, has performed traditional music for audiences across the globe. After meeting a few years back, the two teamed up to revive Larry’s acclaimed band Unique Sounds of the Mountains, and at February’s Farm and Fun Time, they brought the house down! From The Carter Family’s “The Storms Are on the Ocean” to Jimmy Martin’s classic “Freeborn Man,” this dynamic duo showcased the diverse sounds of traditional music, all in their own distinct style. In addition to the always-entertaining music, Martha even showed off her flatfooting skills, giving the audience a taste of this traditional dance style.

Two photos: Left, Martha and Larry singing together; Right, Martha flatfooting on the stage while Larry plays banjo.
Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer brought energy and good traditional tunes to the Farm and Fun Time stage. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

And we learned something new on Farm and Fun Time this month: Not all farms grow crops or raise cows and chickens! For our “ASD Farm Report” segment, Radio Bristol visited a nearby “fish farm” at the Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tennessee. Established in 1894, Erwin National Fish Hatchery is one of the oldest hatcheries in the country and provides over 14 million eggs annually for federal, state, and tribal hatcheries across the nation. Here is a video from our trip:

The final musical guest of the evening was folksinger Willie Watson. A founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, Watson is no stranger to roots music lovers everywhere, and it was a pleasure to have him here at the Birthplace of Country Music. Weaving together the past and present through song, Watson showed our Farm and Fun Time audience the power of traditional American song. Though Watson draws heavily from the catalogue of traditional music, performing songs ranging from Gary Davis’s “Samson and Delilah” to Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special,” he thoroughly makes the music his own. Through stylish showmanship and storytelling, Watson captivated his audience in a way that can only occur when a powerful musician performs in an intimate venue such as the museum’s Performance Theater. This was a performance we won’t soon forget.

Two photographs: Left, Willie Watson in front of the Farm and Fun Time crowd; Right, a close-up shot of Willie playing the guitar and singing.
Willie Watson mesmerized the crowd with every song he performed at February’s Farm and Fun Time. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

If you missed this show, fear not – you can always come next month! Tickets are on sale for our March 8 show featuring Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings and Bumper Jacksons and our April 12 show featuring David Davis and the Warrior River Boys and Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys. We hope to see you at Farm and Fun Time soon!

And remember: Thanks to our sponsor Eastman Credit Union, Radio Bristol is able to bring Farm and Fun Time to not only 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!

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