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Everybody's Tuned to the Radio: Music Clips and Liner Notes

TRACK LISTING

Everybody tune to the radio, the radio, the radio
Everybody’s tuned to the radio, WLBB
We’ll play the banjo, the old guitar too
Play old fiddle just for you
So, everybody’s turned to the radio, the radio, the radio
Everybody’s tuned to the radio, W-L-B-B

(Theme Song, Uncle John Patterson)

THEME SONG
By Uncle John Patterson
(Traditional, lyrics by John K. Patterson)
© 2002
Uncle John Patterson, banjo and vocal; James Patterson, guitar; Jack Shirah, fiddle
(Home recording of WLBB broadcast ca. 1960, by Eugene Akers)

     During his lifetime, John K. Patterson, the “Banjo King,” personified traditional folk music in West Georgia. Born in Carroll County in 1910, he received his musical education at a very early age, courtesy of his mother. A champion banjo picker in her own right, Bessie Patterson handed down to her young son a repertoire of traditional songs and the rudiments of his unique playing style, described by folklorist Art Rosenbaum as “a combination of up-picking with chordal brushes and three-finger melody playing.”
     Among the first local performers on WLBB in 1947, Uncle John could be heard six days a week, twice a day, on his family’s fifteen minute program. Billed as the Ozark Mountain Boys, Patterson’s group included his teenaged son James on guitar, his daughter Virginia and a local lad named C.H. Gilley on vocals, and Ben Entrekin on fiddle. John’s wife Etta got into the act by reading their fan mail over the air.
     During the late 1950s and early 60s, Uncle John, James, and various accompanists, including young fiddling prodigy Jack Shirah, ushered in the d awn every Saturday morning on the “Me and Uncle John” program, hosted by Bob Green. Tapping out the beat on the floor with his bare feet, John greeted farmers and other hardy souls up early enough to switch on their radios with his signature WLBB theme song. In true folk tradition, he set his lyrics to a melody borrowed from an old fiddle tune, “Dance All Night With A Bottle In Your Hand. Recorded directly off the radio by a listener, this performance is an infectious throwback to the music of early Georgia string bands like the Skillet Lickers that helped lay the foundation for the bluegrass and country styles that developed after World War II.

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WLBB STATION ID
By Bob Green

BILLY IN THE LOW GROUND
By Uncle John Patterson
(Traditional)
Uncle John Patterson, banjo; James Patterson, guitar; Ben Entrekin, fiddle; unidentified, guitar
(Home recording, date unknown)

     Featuring Uncle John’s old friend Ben Entrekin on fiddle, this variation on a regionally popular square dance tune is representative of the Northwest Georgia string band tradition in which Patterson became immersed during the 1920s and 30s. During those years, here performed with such early country music legends as Fiddlin’ John Carson, Gid Tanner, Riley Puckett, and A.A. (Ahaz) Gray in traveling medicine shows, fiddling contests, and political rallies.

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FLETCHER’S SAUSAGE AD

     Narrated by long-time WLBB announcers Hiram Bray and Bob Green, this commercial for a local sausage manufacturer is typical of the irreverent, homespun humor these two popular radio personalities brought to the airwaves of West Georgia during the station’s early years.

“Bluegrass and country both came out of hillbilly, so we’re kin of you go back far enough,” -Onie Baxter, 2001

GROUND HOG
By J.N. & Onie Baxter
(Traditional)
J.N. Baxter, vocal, guitar; Onie Baxter, vocal, guitar; Joel Aderhold, banjo; Erlene Aderhold, bass
(Home studio recording, date unknown)

     Among the regular listeners to Uncle John Patterson’s distinctive brand of pre-bluegrass string band music on WLBB was the younger sister of Leon Newman, a guitarist who occasionally accompanied Patterson on his program. Raised in the Haralson County farming community of Steadman in the 1930s and 40s, Iona “Onie” Newman taught herself to play “Chinese Breakdown” on Leon’s mandolin when she was only six or seven years old. Lonely and bored while her older brothers were away in the service during World War II, Onie learned to play guitar next. After marrying J.N. Baxter in 1954, she taught her husband to play as well.
      J.N. and Onie’s affinity for acoustic instruments, praise harmonies, and tradition-based country and folk music steered them in the direction of bluegrass, the distinctive genre of acoustic, old-time country music developed by Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and others during the 1940s and 50s. The couples shared devotion to the music eventually led them to form the Bluegrass Five in 1963. Their first group included banjo picker Joe Will McGuire, mandolin player Hughie Wylie, and bassist Howard McGuire.
      Through nearly forty years of personal appearances at bluegrass festivals and other venues, including their own program on radio station WGDL in Douglasville, Georgia, J.N. and Onie have extended their influence as musical mentors and tradition-bearers to several generations of admiring bluegrass musicians and fans.
     As their arrangement of the traditional folk song “Ground Hog” indicates, the Baxters have never strayed far from their roots in old-time country music.

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“The most fun was just being on the radio station, ‘cause you know people were listening—even more than in church.” -Alton Stitcher, 2001

SHE’S MY BABY
By Alton Stitcher
(Alton Stitcher) ©2002
Alton Stitcher, vocal, guitar; Uncle John Patterson, banjo
(Home recording, Carrollton, Georgia, 1959)

      Between 1948 and 1962, folk singer Alton Stitcher carved out a comfortable niche for himself on WLBB. Born near Villa Rica, Georgia, in 1916, Alton absorbed the old folk songs and hymns he heard while growing up on farms and in mill villages in the region. With his soothing vocal style and easy-going personality, Alton maintained an on-air popularity that ensured he never lacked a sponsor for his program. Although an effective performer on his own, the “Poet from the Mountain,” as Stitcher was billed in Piedmont, Alabama radio station WPID, preferred to share the spotlight whenever possible. At various times, his musical partners included the Craven Twins (Billye and Betty), Myrtle Gable, Francis Ashemore, the Suddeth Sisters, the Akers Trio, and his close friend Lee Williams, a gospel promoter and WLBB announcer from Bremen, Georgia.
    Although none of the transcription discs of his radio programs recorded by WLBB engineers are known to have survived, it is fortunate that Alton chose to carefully guard the reel-to-reel tapes that he began recording at home in the 1950s. On this recording of one of his original compositions, based on the children’s song “Skip to My Lou,” Alton is tastefully accompanied on the banjo by his friend and distant relative, Uncle John Patterson.

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FREIGHT TRAIN BOOGIE
By the Storey Sisters
(Alton Delmore, Rabon Delmore)
WarnerSongs, Inc. (ASCAP)
Nellie Storey, vocal, guitar; Rhoda Storey, vocal, stand-up bass
(Home recording, Carrollton, Georgia, ca. 1950)

       In contrast to Alton Stitcher’s relaxed, low-key style, Nellie and Rhoda Storey projected a boisterous exuberance. Musically versatile to an exceptional degree, they may have also been ahead of their time. As Rhoda’s adeptness at slapping the strings of her big bass fiddle on their rendition of the Delmore Brothers’ “Freight Train Boogie” demonstrates, the girls possessed a musical drive and spirit that might not have been out of place in the rockabilly explosion spearheaded by Elvis Presley a few years later.

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“I can tell you right now, that’s not a girl playin’ that fiddle! A girl can’t play that!” –Nellie Storey, recalling the reaction of one WLBB listener to hearing Rhodie play.

BILE THEM CABBAGE DOWN
By the Storey Sisters
(Traditional)
Nellie Storey, guitar; Rhoda Storey, fiddle; James More, stand-up bass
(Home recording, ca. 1950)

      Nellie, born in 1918, and Rhoda, two years her junior, considered themselves jazz, rather than country, musicians. Regardless, their repertoire of over 300 songs included a large number of hoedown fiddle tunes, preformed primarily to make people dance. On “Bile Them Cabbage Down,” Nellie’s enthusiastic “kick it off, young’uns” and “play it purty and let’s go home” reflect the years the sister act spent entertaining at square dances and house parties during the 1930s and 40s. In an era when men dominated country music, the Storey Sisters took advantage of every opportunity to, in Nellie’s words, “get right in and mix it up with the boys.”

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SOLDIER’S JOY
By the Blue Bonnet Boys
(Traditional)
Fotch Snow, fiddle; W.J. Snow, guitar; Bernard Payne, mandolin; Alfred Ward, guitar
(Home recording, Bowden, Georgia, 1979)

      Before there was a WLBB, Carroll County musicians in search of radio exposure were forced to travel a bit over West Georgia’s miles of unpaved roads. For the Blue Bonnet Boys, formed in the early 1940s by a group of high school kids from Bowdon, the closest thing to a local radio station was WGAA, some forty miles to the north in Cedartown. In addition to their weekly fifteen-minute program there in 1945 and 1946, the band performed in school auditoriums and movie theaters around West Georgia.
     The first line-up of the band included W.J. Snow on guitar and vocals; his sister Louise Ward on piano and accordion; and brothers Bernard and Mayon Payne n mandolin and tenor banjo, respectively. After the group disbanded in 1945, W.J. and Fotch kept the Blue Bonnet Boys in the public eye with new members Bonnie Bruce on lap steel guitar, Lonnie West on mandolin and piano, and guitarists Charles Cole and Adrian Robinson. Although the group finally split up in late 1946, various ex-members performed over WLBB in the years ahead.
      In September 1979, all the original members of the Blue Bonnet Boys got back together for a highly publicized and well-received reunion show. Their rendition of the traditional fiddle tune “Soldier’s Joy,” recorded at a rehearsal for that gig, conveys the sense of fun that must have enlivened the group’s appearances some thirty-five years earlier.

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HOLD FAST TO THE RIGHT
By N.J. Defoor & Jim Embry
(Traditional)
Jim Embry, vocal, guitar; N.J. Defoor, vocal, mandolin
(Home recording, Carrollton, Georgia, 1979)

      Over in Villa Rica, another gang of music-loving teenagers formed the Georgia Playboys in 1943. Performing cover versions of popular country songs, Jim Embry, N.J. Defoor, Joe Tyson, Charles Williams, W.J. Wortham, Perry Bone, and Robert Williams made numerous appearances at local schools and other venues. By 1947, the Playboys had secured their own program on WLBB and would remain regulars on the station well into the 1950s. Throughout that period, various band members came and went, including Clarence Agan, S.M. Dobbs, steel guitarist John Morris, and the singing Washington Sisters.
      Starting in the early 1950s, mandolin player Nathan Defoor, better known as “Junior,” or simply “N.J.,” traveled back and forth every week from Villa Rica to Kentucky, where he was a regular cast member on the popular Renfro Valley Barn Dance radio program. Eventually tiring of the commute, N.J. chose to remain closer to home, performing and recording with WLBB gospel favorites Newt and Louise Holmes.
      A few weeks before he succumbed to cancer in 1979, N.J. got together one last time with Primitive Baptist preacher and former Georgia Playboy, Jim Embry, to record some of their favorite duets. The deep musical kinship shared by these two old friends was captured in this home recording of the sentimental ballad “Hold Fast to the Right.”

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BOB GREEN’S COUNTRY CONCERT PROMO

 This promotional radio spot was narrated by 1950s country music star Webb Pierce.

BLUE GRASS SPECIAL
By the Akers Trio with W.J. Snow
(Bill Monroe) Peer International Corp. (BMI)
Eugene Akers, mandolin; Fayenell Akers, guitar; Rayford Akers, guitar; W.J. Snow, lap steel guitar
(Home recording, Bowdon, Georgia, ca. 1960)

     Born in 1929 and raised on a musical diet of radio barn dances and records by Fiddlin’ John Carson and the Carter Family, Carrollton teenager Eugene Akers acquired an old “tater-bug” mandolin in the early 1940s and began teaching himself to play. After little sister Fayenell learned her first guitar chords, the pair began practicing for hours at a time in the refuge of the family car where they wouldn’t be disturbed.  
      Upon older brother Rayford’s return from military service at the end of World War II, the trio of siblings continued to hone their musicianship. Calling themselves the Radio Homefolks, they appeared on WLBB in 1949, performing their own material and providing backup for Alton Stitcher.
     Eventually changing their name to the Akers Trio, Eugene, Fayenell, and Rayford played locally throughout the 1950s and 60s. During an informal jam session at the home of W.J. Snow, the former Blue Bonnet Boy accompanied the trio on Hawaiian lap steel guitar, an instrument he was in the process of learning to play. Among their impromptu performances documented on reel-to-reel tape was this unique arrangement of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Grass Special.”
      In 1991, Eugene was inducted into the Hall of Honor in the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in recognition of his achievements both as a musician and as a country music historian.

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KENTUCKY
By Alton Stitcher
(Earl & Bill Bolick) Fort Knox Music, Inc./Trio Music Company, Inc. (ASCAP)         Accompanied only by his gently understated guitar playing, Alton’s sublime interpretation of “Kentucky,” the 1948 hit record by country music traditionalists the Blue Sky Boys possesses a timeless quality that transcends categorization.

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BONAPARTE’S RETREAT
By Joe “Red” Tyson
(Traditional)
Joe Tyson, fiddle
(Home recording, date unknown)

      Born into a very musical family in Villa Rica on April 1, 1929, Joe Tyson developed into a remarkably talented and versatile musician at a young age. By the time he was thirteen, Joe was playing fiddle at local square dances. In 1948, he accepted an offer from country music stars Bill and Earl Bolick of the Blue Sky Boys to join their group. For a brief period, Tyson could be heard performing over Atlanta radio station WGST with the Blue Sky Boys as well as on WLBB with the Georgia Playboys.
      His haunting solo performance of the traditional fiddle tune “Bonaparte’s Retreat” is similar to that recorded by Carroll County native and Tallapoosa, Georgia, resident A.A. (Ahaz) Gray for Okeh Records in 1924.

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WICKED PATH OF SIN
By the Radio Homefolks
(Bill Monroe) Peer International Corp. (BMI)
Eugene Akers, mandolin, vocal; Fayenell Akers, guitar, vocal; Rayford Akers, guitar, vocal; Harold Irvin, vocal
(WLBB acetate, 1949)

      For most hillbilly musicians in West Georgia, the lines separating the sacred from the secular in their repertories were indistinct. Reflecting the inspiration of their Primitive Baptist upbringing, Eugene, Fayenell, and Rayford, with assistance from their cousin, Harold Irvin, brought to this performance one of Bill Monroe’s most popular gospel songs the style of close harmonizing they had developed while singing shape-note Sacred Harp hymns together in church.

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I’M FEELING FINE
By Newt & Louise Holmes
(Moise Lister) © 1952 Moise Lister Songs (BMI)
Newt Holmes, vocal, piano; Louise Holmes, vocal
(Acetate disc, recorded at WLBB, June 16, 1956)

      Fundamentalist religion has long played a defining role in the lives of many West Georgians. For Newt and Louise Holmes, the pull of religion proved especially powerful. At the time of their marriage in 1944, Carrollton teenagers Louise Hulsey and Newt Holmes were performing together in a country band called the Melody Boys and Girls. The high point in Newt’s brief career as a hillbilly musician arrived when he shared the stage of Carrollton’s Playhouse theater with cowboy singing star Tex Ritter.
     After Newt was called to the Church of God ministry, he and Louise made a life-long commitment to performing gospel music exclusively. By 1948, they were appearing regularly on WLBB as half of the Friendly Four Quartet. In 1952, the couple began performing as a duo, billed simply as Newt and Louise. On their first recording, made at WLBB in 1956, the sanctified power of Louise’s voice, coupled with Newt’s divinely inspired touch on piano, laid the artistic foundation on which their future group the Holmes Family would build a long and fruitful career in gospel music.

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DEATHLESS WEEKEND

     Narrated by the late film actress Susan Hayward, who settled down near Carrollton during the 1950s, this public service announcement earned WLBB a Georgia Association of Broadcasters Achievement Award.

I HEAR A SWEET VOICE CALLING
By Alton Stitcher & Elizabeth Cooper
(Bill Monroe) Hill & Range Songs (ASCAP)
Alton Stitcher, vocal, guitar; Elizabeth Cooper, vocal
(Home recording, Carrollton, Georgia, ca. 1959)

      Alton never failed to incorporate at least a couple of what he calls “sacred ballads” into his radio programs. Typical in this respect is his tender duet with Elizabeth Cooper on one of his most requested numbers, Bill Monroe’s “I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling.”
      Elizabeth was a seasoned radio performer in her own right. In the late 1940s, at the age of nine or ten, she had sung gospel at WLBB with her older sisters, Edna and Mary, in the Cooper Trio.

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NEW DEPRESSION BLUES
By the Storey Sisters
(Nellie & Rhoda Storey) © 2002
Nellie Storey, vocal, guitar; Rhoda Storey, vocal, stand-up bass
(Home recording, ca. 1950)
 
     While their “New Depression Blues” may have owed a lyrical and musical debt to their favorite country-blues yodeler, Jimmie Rodgers, The Story Sisters’ almost cheerful perspective on Depression-era farm life evokes the rustic flavor of their own specific time and place. When Nellie and Rhoda harmonized about “corn in my crib,” “cotton down in my patch,” and “my old gray mule and plow,” they were not merely waxing poetic. After they were grown, the girls stayed down on the farm, helping out their widowed father with the plowing and other hard, physical labor required to grow cotton, corn, and other crops.
      Sadly, the demands placed on their time and energy by caring for their aging father forced Nellie and Rhoda into almost total retirement from public performance near the end of the 1940s. For Nellie, this withdrawal from the local hillbilly music scene that had nurtured and supported her talent felt “like missing the bus a hundred miles from home, and no way to get back.” In the years to come, their musical activities would be confined primarily to their own living room, where they kept in practice by jamming with friends and documenting their repertoire on tape.

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WOAH, MULE
By J.N. and Onie Baxter with Leon Newman
(Traditional)
J.N. Baxter, lead vocal; Onie Baxter, guitar, vocal; Leon Newman, vocal
(Acetate disc, home recording, Carrollton, Georgia, 1956)

     J.N. and Onie Baxter’s reputation as regional bluegrass pioneers has been augmented by the recent discovery of a set of acetate discs recorded in 1956 that sheds light on the evolution of bluegrass music in West Georgia. These primitive home recordings of the Baxters and an informal group of like-minded musicians with whom they “jammed around” are a testament to their pre-bluegrass roots in older country music traditions.

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STAY ALL NIGHT (STAY A LITTLE LONGER)
By Charles Cole and his Southern Kinfolks
(Tommy Duncan) Red River Songs, Inc. (BMI)
Charles Cole, lead vocal, guitar; Lonnie West, guitar, vocal; Ray Long, stand-up bass; Nellie Storey, guitar vocal; Rhoda Storey, fiddle, vocal
(Acetate disc, January 1947)

      One night at a local appearance by Atlanta’s WSB Barn Dance Gang in late 1946, an ambitious, twenty-year-old singer and guitar player from Carrollton named Charles Cole encountered the talents of the Storey Sisters for the first time. Duly impressed by their act, the former Blue Bonnet Boy invited the girls to join the group he was putting together for the purpose of performing Carrollton’s eagerly anticipated new radio station. Piano player/guitarist Lonnie West and bassist/comedian Ray “Cousin Arfus” Lon completed the line up of Charles Cole and his Southern Kinfolks.
      The four selections included here by this group are taken from a set of acetate discs that document one of their first performances on WLBB in January 1947. Over the course of the program, Cole’s versatile band performed a fairly wide range of country music that drew on both traditional and popular sources. The rural, West Georgia hoedown flavor they injected into their interpretation of “Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer), a recent hit for the western swing bandleader Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys, demonstrated an ability to incorporate up-to-date material into their repertoire without compromising their regional roots.

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HILLBILLY BOOGIE
By Charles Cole and his Southern Kinfolks
(Rabon Delmore) Universal-Songs of Polygram OBO Vidor Publications (ASCAP)
Rhoda Storey, electric guitar; Nellie Storey, guitar; Ray Long, stand-up bass
(Acetate disc, January 1947)

     Performed with proto-rockabilly fervor by “champion girl fiddler” Rhoda Storey on electric guitar, this cover version of the Delmore Brothers’ 1946 instrumental hit underscored the Storey Sisters’ potential to make an impact far beyond the border s of Carroll County had they remained active as performers.

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AS LONG AS I LIVE
By Charles Cole and his Southern Kinfolks
(Roy Acuff) Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. (BMI)
Charles Cole, lead vocal, lead guitar; Lonnie West, guitar, vocal; Ray Long, stand-up bass
(Acetate disc, January 1947)

      At the age of fifteen, Cole was taught his first guitar chords by Rev. Andrew “Blind Andy” Jenkins, a family friend and well-known songwriter, performer, and recording artist from Atlanta. The distinctive guitar licks that Cole inserted between the verses of this romantic ballad of love and loss brought a degree of originality to his and Lonnie West’s interpretation of the popular duet number written by Roy Acuff and recorded by the Bailes Brothers and others.

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DOWN YONDER
By Charles Cole and his Southern Kinfolks
(Traditional)
Charles Cole, guitar; Lonnie West, piano; Ray Lon, stand-up bass; Nellie Storey, guitar; Rhoda Storey, fiddle
(Acetate disc, January 1947)

      Lonnie West’s ragtime piano playing added a unique dimension to the Kinfolks’ arrangement of this West Georgia square dance favorite.

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UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE
By the Radio Homefolks
(Traditional)
Eugene Akers, mandolin, Fayenell Akers, guitar; Rayford Akers, guitar
(WLBB acetate, 1949)

     Modeled after an arrangement for mandolin and guitar by two of Eugene’s musical inspirations, James and Martha Carson, the Radio Homefolks’ version of this instrumental standard showcased Fayenell’s blossoming talent on lead guitar, as well as the close musical empathy she shared with her two brothers.

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FROGGIE WENT A COURTIN’
By Alton Sticher & Marshall Hannah
(Traditional)
Alton Stitcher, vocal, guitar; Marshall Hannah, guitar
(Home recording of WLBB broadcast, ca. 1960, by Eugene Akers)

      Alton’s performance of the old folk song “Froggie Went A Courtin’,” recorded during one of his guest appearances on local country singer Marshall Hannah’s weekly program on WLBB, provides an audio snapshot of Stitcher in his natural element as a radio entertainer. Hannah, who as a ten-year-old-boy had taken guitar lessons from Alton and would later record in Nashville, accompanied his mentor on rhythm guitar.

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JOHN HENRY
By Onie Baxter & Leon Newman
(Traditional)
Onie Baxter, lead guitar; Leon Newman, guitar
(Acetate disc, home recording, 1956)

     In bluegrass circles, Onie Baxter is thought of primarily as an accomplished singer and rhythm guitar player. But as this 1950s home recording of one of the best known of all American folk songs reveals, her aptitude as a lead guitarist is quite impressive as well.

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LEATHER BREECHES
By Joe Tyson and his Farm Hands
(Traditional)
Joe Tyson, fiddle; probably Willie Williams, guitar
(Acetate disc, July 9, 1949)

     Following his stint with the Blue Sky Boys, Tyson began leading his own group, Joe Tyson’s Farmhands, in 1949. Their recording of the old fiddle tune “Leather Breeches” spotlights only one face of Tyson’s prodigious talent. Joe was also an accomplished songwriter, pianist, guitarist, and vocalist, with a smooth singing style reminiscent of Eddy Arnold. Up until his untimely death in 1972, “Red” Tyson continued to write, perform, and record both country and gospel music with a variety of West Georgia musicians.

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SHORTENIN’ BREAD
By Leon Newman
(Traditional)
Leon Newman, banjo
(Acetate disc, home recording, 1956)

      Onie Baxter’s brother Leon documented a brief sampling of the traditional claw-hammer banjo style that was more the rule than the exception during the pre-bluegrass era in West Georgia.

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BANJO BREAKDOWN
By Joe Will McGuire & Onie Baxter
(Joe Will McGuire) © 2002
Joe Will McGuire, banjo; Onie Baxter, guitar
(Acetate disc, home recording, 1956)

      This early recording of one of the first bluegrass banjo pickers in Carroll County provides evidence of the impact of Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, and other masters of the 5-stringed banjo on “hillbilly” musicianship in West Georgia during the 1950s.

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I’VE GOT A LONGING TO GO
By Newt & Louise Holmes
(Sylvia Trace) Fort Knox Music, Inc.; Trio Music Company, Inc. (ASCAP)
Newt Holmes, piano, vocal; Louise Holmes, vocal
(WLBB acetate, June 16, 1956)

      WLBB maintained its Sunday tradition of programs by local gospel groups well into the 1990s. Newt and Louise’s Holmes Family remained a regionally popular touring and recording act on the gospel circuit until Newt’s passing in 1998.

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THE GOSPEL HOUR
(WLBB transcription disc, December 1948)

      For local evangelists like Bobby Lee Woodruff, a Pentecostal Holiness preacher and hosiery mill worker from Carrollton, WLBB offered access to a much larger congregation than they could otherwise hope to minister to. Due to a shortage of preachers, many rural churches in the area were limited in their ability to hold Sunday services more than once a month. In particular, elderly shut-ins unable to attend church services looked forward all week to hearing the local preachers who came into their homes every weekend by way of the radio.

FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS
By the Radio Homefolks
(Rayford Akers) © 2002
Eugene Akers, mandolin, vocal; Fayenell Akers, guitar, vocal; Rayford Akers, guitar, vocal
(WLBB acetate, 1949)

      This country gospel roadmap for the soul is one of Rayford’s original songs.

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HEAVEN’S REALLY GONNA SHINE
By the Sewell Gospel Quartet
(Albert E. Brumley) Affiliated Music Enterprises, Inc. (BMI)
Onie Baxter, vocal; Joe Daniel, vocal; John Payton, vocal; Harold Blackmon, vocal; David Maddox, piano
(Acetate disc, 1956)

     This rapturous performance by Onie Baxter and a group of her co-workers from Sewell Manufacturing plants in Bremen and Temple exemplifies the popular style of white gospel quartet singing that flourished on the radio and at singing conventions in and around Carroll County during the 1940s and 50s.

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BRING BACK MY BLUE EYED BOY
By J.N. and Onie Baxter
(Traditional)
J.N. Baxter, vocal, guitar; Onie Baxter, vocal, guitar; Joel Aderhold, banjo; Erlene Aderhold, bass
(Home studio recording, date unknown)

     Here is another example of the fusion of traditional songs and stellar musicianship that has long been characteristic of bluegrass music.

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DANCE ALL NIGHT WITH A BOTTLE IN YOUR HAND
By Uncle John Patterson with Ben Entrekin
(Traditional)
Uncle John Patterson, banjo; James Patterson, guitar; Ben Entrekin, fiddle; unidentified, guitar
(Home recording, date unknown)
 
     Uncle John’s home recordings enhance the legacy of commercial recordings left behind when he passed away in 1980. As a member of the Carroll County Revelers, a trio of Carrollton pickers that included fiddler Jessie Chamblie and his brother, guitarist/vocalist Henry Chamblie, Patterson’s banjo playing was first featured on their 1931 Vocalion recordings of “Rome Georgia Bound” and “Georgia Wobble Blues.”
      Later in life, Uncle John’s remarkable musicianship was showcased on his album “Plains Georgia Rock,” recorded by folklorist George Mitchell and released on the Arhoolie label in 1977. Reflecting his keen interest in politics, Patterson also recorded several 45-rpm singles with such special titles as “Muddy Roads of Vietnam,” “Watergate Blues,” and “First Lady Waltz.”

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THEME SONG (REPRISE)

      Probably more than any other local musician, Uncle John benefited from his years on WLBB. The notoriety he gained from his popular radio program undoubtedly contributed to his election to two consecutive terms as Carroll County’s representative to the Georgia State Legislature, from 1968 to 1972.

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