The Story of the Opry's Humble Beginnings."Winner of a Ralph J. Gleason Music Book AwardWinner of The ASCAP-Deems Taylor AwardVanderbilt University Press and the Country Music Foundation Press are Proud to Bring You the Story of the Opry's Humble Beginnings. On November 28, 1925, a white-bearded man sat before one of Nashville radio station WSM's newfangled carbon microphoThe Story of the Opry's Humble Beginnings."Winner of a Ralph J. Gleason Music Book AwardWinner of The ASCAP-Deems Taylor AwardVanderbilt University Press and the Country Music Foundation Press are Proud to Bring You the Story of the Opry's Humble Beginnings. On November 28, 1925, a white-bearded man sat before one of Nashville radio station WSM's newfangled carbon microphones to play a few old-time fiddle tunes. Uncle Jimmy Thompson played on the air for an hour that night, and throughout the region listeners at their old crystal sets suddenly perked up. Back in Nashville the response at the offices of National Life Insurance Company, which owned radio station WSM ("We Shield Millions"), was dramatic; phone calls and telegrams poured into the station, many of them making special requests. It was not long before station manager George D. Hay was besieged by pickers and fiddlers of every variety, as well as hoedown bands, singers, and comedians -- all wanting their shot at the Saturday night airwaves. "We soon had a good-natured riot on our hands," Hay later recalled. And, thus, the Opry was born. Or so the story goes. In truth, the birth of the Opry was a far more complicated event than even Hay, "the solemn old Judge," remembered. The veteran performers of that era are all gone now, but since the 1970s pioneering country music historian Charles K. Wolfe has spent countless hours recording the oral history of the principals and their families and mining archival materials from the Country Music Foundation and elsewhere to understand just what those early days were like. The story that he has reconstructed is fascinating. Both a detailed history and a group biography of the Opry's early years, "A Good-Natured Riot" provides the first comprehensive and thoroughly researched account of the personalities, the music, and the social and cultural conditions that were such fertile ground for the growth of a radio show that was to become an essential part of American culture. Wolfe traces the unsure beginnings of the Opry through its many incarnations, through cast tours of the South, the Great Depression, commercial sponsorship by companies like Prince Albert Tobacco, and the first national radio linkups. He gives colorful and engaging portraits of the motley assembly of the first Opry casts -- amateurs from the hills and valleys surrounding Nashville, like harmonica player Dr. Humphrey Bate ("Dean of the Opry") and fiddler Sid Harkreader, virtuoso string bands like the Dixieliners, colorful hoedown bands like the Gully Jumpers and the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the important African American performer DeFord Bailey, vaudeville acts and comedians like Lasses and Honey, through more professional groups such as the Vagabonds, the Delmore Brothers, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, and perennial favorite Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys. With dozens of wonderful photographs and a complete roster of every performer and performance of these early Opry years, "A Good-Natured Riot" gives a full and authoritative portrayal of the colorful beginnings of WSM's barn dance program up to 1940, by which time the Grand Ole Opry had found its national audience and was poised to become the legendary institution that it remains to this day."Co-published with the Country Music Foundation Press...
|Title||:||A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry|
|Number of Pages||:||352 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry Reviews
A Good-Natured Riot is an extremely well written history of one of the longest running radio shows of all time, the Grand Ole Opry. Charles K. Wolfe provides us with an astounding amount of research into the first 15 years of the Opry's existence, yet his attention to detail and facts never gets in the way of his writing or story telling. I especially appreciated the fact that Wolfe goes into the backgrounds and careers of several important and not-so important early Opry members, that due to a lack of recordings have almost been completely discounted by the country music industry. It's unfortunate that there were no recordings of the Opry in these years, but thankfully with Wolfe's writing and the few recording we have it's evident what the Opry must have sounded like. I've been very disappointed by the lack of attention to the history of the Opry that I've seen on the internet, where it seems there's almost no way to view the Grand Ole Opry movie from 1940 or hear any of the early recordings that are out there. This is no complaint of the book though, just a frustration dealing with the topic. After reading this book I have gained a much deeper level of knowledge and understanding of early radio, Nashville, pre-war country music, and of course the Opry.
It's amazing to realize how little I knew about the Opry's origins and early incarnations. I have a grounding in country music of the late 20s, but mostly from the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. And I know more about country music of the mid-to-late 40s. This book covers 1925-1940, from Dr. Bate (who I've never heard) and Uncle Dave Macon (who I've barely heard) to the Delmore Brothers to Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe. It's fascinating to think how all this music, which preserved and developed old traditions and modernized them into something new, was made, heard by thousands of people across the U.S., and then vanished. There were very few recordings of those old shows, and, in fact, a fairly small number of professional releases of records by the acts on the Opry itself. Wolfe does a fabulous job of combining interviews with surviving members or their offspring with contemporary newspaper accounts, creating a thoroughly enjoyable, if partially unknowable, narrative of the players, the producers, and even some of the listeners.