Taking Farm and Fun Time Back to Its Roots - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Taking Farm and Fun Time Back to Its Roots

Right pic shows the full band; left pic focuses in on Ralph II singing with a couple of his band members nearby

On April 12, Farm and Fun Time officially completed two years of shows, and to commemorate this monumental occasion, we had a bluegrass extravaganza for the ages! David Davis & The Warrior River Boys and Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys, along with host band Bill and the Belles, put on a performance that harkened back to the days of the original Farm and Fun Time in the late 1940s. And thanks to Eastman Credit Union, folks at home were able to tune in too via our WBCM-Radio Bristol Facebook page for a 3-camera live stream.

Farm and Fun Time started off with a set of old-timey favorites from host band Bill and the Belles. After performing the classic “Darktown Strutter’s Ball,” they crooned “Good Gal I’ll Be OK,” an original tune that would touch the heart of even the bluest of blue yodelers. Bill and the Belles were followed fast by this month’s “Heirloom Recipe” segment, presented by Sally Bolling of Lebanon, Virginia. Sally is a longtime supporter of Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, where she coordinates stage emcees and she also makes sure to set aside time to shuttle her favorite artists, including Marty Stuart, around the festival site. Learning the ins and outs of country cooking from her mother and grandmother, Sally found out early that the most important ingredient in making good cornbread is a cast iron skillet, especially one that has been passed down from a loved one. Bill and the Belles echoed this sentiment in their handwritten jingle “If It’s Good Enough For Granny, It’s Good Enough For Me.”

Right pic: Bill and the Belles clustered together on stage to sing; Left: Sally Bolling at the mic on stage
Bill and the Belles play their opening numbers at April’s Farm and Fun Time, followed by Sally Bolling’s guide to making perfect cornbread. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Our first musical guest of the evening was David Davis & The Warrior River Boys. Considering that David’s uncle Cleo was Bill Monroe’s first Bluegrass Boy, it’s only natural that the sounds of early bluegrass are at the core of what the Warrior River Boys do. A member of the Alabama Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Davis founded the Warrior River Boys in 1984 and has been entertaining audiences with raw, high-energy performances ever since. Though the Warrior River Boys are a bluegrass band through and through, many of tonight’s selections were drawn from the old-time catalogue of the “Grandfather of Bluegrass Music,” the ramblin’ and rowdy Charlie Poole. Selections from Poole included “The Ramblin’ Blues” and “The Highwayman.” These and other Charlie Poole tunes will be available on their upcoming Rounder Record Didn’t He Ramble: The Songs of Charlie Poole, set for release this summer.

Right pic focuses in one of the Warrior River Boys on guitar; Top left pic focuses in on David Davis playing guitar and singing; Bottom left pic shows the whole band in front of the audience
David Davis & The Warrior River Boys played a great set to an enthusiastic Farm and Fun Time audience. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

For our “ASD Farm Report,” Radio Bristol visited Opossum’s Bottom Farm and Ziegenwald Dairy in Gate City, Virginia. Jack Woodworth showed us his dairy goats and the cheeses that his family makes from their milk. Check out this video from our trip to Ziegenwald Dairy:

Our last musical guests of the evening, Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys, brought the program full circle. When the original Farm and Fun Time debuted on WCYB on December 26, 1946, The Stanley Brothers and The Clinch Mountain Boys was the first band featured on that storied program. Over 70 years later, we were honored to have Ralph II perform on the present-day Farm and Fun Time, our live radio program based on the show that launched his legendary father’s career. Ralph II and The Clinch Mountain Boys performed a rousing set of traditional bluegrass that encompassed all the sounds of that genre. In addition to Ralph II singing his hits like “Bluefield,” banjo player Alex Leach sang a powerful a capella piece, a style that was introduced to bluegrass audiences by Ralph Stanley in the early 1970s, and fiddler John Rigsby fiddled the classic “Listen to the Mockingbird.” Farm and Fun Time is a significant element in the story of The Stanley Brothers, and it was an honor for the continuation of both of these legacies to cross paths on this night.

Right pic shows the full band; left pic focuses in on Ralph II singing with a couple of his band members nearby
Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys brought the legacy of Stanley’s father to the Farm and Fun Time stage. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Tickets for May’s show featuring Roy Book Binder and Traveller are still available, but they’re going fast. For more information and to purchase tickets for this event, visit www.listenradiobristol.org! We hope to see you there!

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