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1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, in Spruce Pine N.C.

GUEST,GuestTM 05 May 24 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Roderick A Warner 05 May 24 - 11:33 AM
Stilly River Sage 05 May 24 - 11:50 AM
Stilly River Sage 05 May 24 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,GuestTM 06 May 24 - 03:06 PM
cnd 07 May 24 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,GuestTM 12 May 24 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,GuestTM 12 May 24 - 12:29 AM
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Subject: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, Spruce Pine
From: GUEST,GuestTM
Date: 05 May 24 - 04:44 AM

My father-in-law was 9-11 yrs old when he, his brother, and two cousins, performed at the Carolina Theater in Spruce Pine, NC during the Carolina Barn Dance. Performers included well-known, up/coming, and local talent. Scotty/Lulu Belle Wiseman were just two of the well-known performers on the show. They were part of the local talent, as The Chestnut Grove Quartet. O.D. Calhoun was one of the owners/operator of the Carolina Theatre and the Barn Dance.

Through connections w/the Liberty Broadcasting Company in Dallas, Texas, together, they put Spruce Pine “on the map” by broadcasting the Carolina Barn Dance live on 512 radio stations across the United States. From 1949 until sometime in 1954 the Carolina Barn Dance was broadcast by radio to every state in the nation, except Washington. Someone would climb up a pole and hook up wires before the show on Friday nights and it was sent by wire to Liberty Broadcasting Co. They would then climb back up and disconnect the wires after the show.

I have received conflicting times of the actual broadcast days (Sat am, Mon am, etc.) My father-in-law remembered the family sitting around the radio and listening to their quartet sing. I have contacted several libraries, and numerous other contacts trying to find archives of the radio broadcasts.

Liberty Broadcasting went out of business and archive broadcast locations are unknown. Even the local radio station, WBRM, in Marion, NC, did not keep archives. I just know that somewhere there has to be archives of the broadcast, especially when it was broadcast to more than 512 stations.

I am looking to find even a small clip of my f-i-l singing w/his family. It would be such a treasure to have and pass on for years to come. If anyone can provide assistance or information that may help with my research of "hope," I would (and I know the family) would be most appreciative. Thank you!

Paragraph spacing added for readability. ---mudelf

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, Spruce Pine
From: GUEST,Roderick A Warner
Date: 05 May 24 - 11:33 AM

I use the Internet Archive quite a bit and coincidentally heard a fascinating podcast, an interview with Jason Scott about its history and work, sources etc, a few days ago. So I’ve had a snoop around but couldn’t find anything re Chestnut Grove Quartet and radio recordings. However, there are lots of user groups for old time radio on the archive so a deeper search might find some relevant sources. A direct approach to the Archive might be worth your while as they have so much material there could be broadcasts pending / stored etc. I did get a hit from the Chestnut Grove Quartet, via some recordings they made but the tracks are only short samples. But they give a fascinating snapshot of what was obviously a very good group. YouTube has a more extensive selection…

Internet Archive

Good hunting!

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, Spruce Pine
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 05 May 24 - 11:50 AM

If you can't find radio broadcast archives you might at least look for newspaper archives. The newspapers that operated in the region might have published schedules for radio shows, giving you a more solid starting point as far as the duration of the broadcast years for the Carolina Barn Dance. Back in the day you would have had to sit down with microfiche and look at individual blocks of pages of specific newspapers published during weeks or a month, page by page. Now most of those are digitized and usually searchable (you will have to pay to use a database). Would the radio show have played only part of the year, or was it on every week all year long? Sample several months of the local and regional newspapers and you'll likely find a paper that carried radio broadcast schedules. You'll probably find them next to the TV schedules.

Another option is to look for universities in the area. Any of the larger state university libraries will have Special Collections (archives) of some sort and if you get a result in your search then look for Finding Aids to narrow down what is in a particular collection. To save you time I ran an advanced search in Google:

These results came from searching the exact phrase "Carolina Barn Dance" and all of the words "Spruce Pine, North Carolina". I see three solid results including a finding aid.

SRS (Retired university library professional)

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, Spruce Pine
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 05 May 24 - 11:56 AM

The UNC Wilson Special Collection Library archive holding isn't huge - about 1 linear foot of shelf at the library. Below is a Finding Aid.

Collection Number: 20054

Collection Title: Bruce Greene and Hilary Dirlam Collection, circa 1925-1992 (bulk 1991-1992)

The Bruce Greene and Hilary Dirlam Collection consists of audio recordings, documentation, and photographs of Anglo-American old-time musicians from western North Carolina. The materials were created and compiled by musicians, Bruce Greene and Hilary Dirlam, as part of a 1992 North Carolina Arts Council folklife documentary grant. The audio recordings primarily consist of field recordings and interviews by musicians from Avery County, Buncombe County, Mitchell County, and Yancey County, including Steve Ledford, Luke Smathers String Band, and Red Wilson.

The archivist gives you breadcrumbs to use to extend your search:

Subject Headings
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog. [go to the link at the top of the page to get to the hot links for these subjects]

Banjo music--North Carolina.
Dirlam, Hilary.
Fiddle tunes--North Carolina.
Folk music--North Carolina.
Greene, Bruce, 1951-
Ledford, Steve.
Luke Smathers String Band.
Old-time music--North Carolina.
Wilson, Red.

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, in Spruce Pine N.C.
From: GUEST,GuestTM
Date: 06 May 24 - 03:06 PM

Thanks so much for the information. I have a couple of newspaper articles. I just hope something will lead to a clip from one of the broadcasts.

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, in Spruce Pine N.C.
From: cnd
Date: 07 May 24 - 11:19 AM

I think this may be a good place to start:

Not sure how many recordings of it you'll find. Transcription discs of the nature you described were typically required by contract to be destroyed after being played, so finding them intact, as a general rule, is incredibly rare.

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, in Spruce Pine N.C.
From: GUEST,GuestTM
Date: 12 May 24 - 12:15 AM

Thank you. Yes, I have seen this interview with O.D. Calhoun and have even spoken to one of the producers. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any sound clips of my father-in-law singing. The clips in the youtube video, I'm told, are from a later recording in Bakersville. Thanks for your help.
And, yes, I'm still seeking any other help anyone may have.

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Subject: RE: 1949-54 Carolina Barn Dance, in Spruce Pine N.C.
From: GUEST,GuestTM
Date: 12 May 24 - 12:29 AM

FYI - in the youtube video above, my father-in-law, his brother, and two cousins are in the pic on the timelines 3:35-3:41. And, as far as the discs, I've been told they are hard to find, but thought, in my "non-radio" knowledge that perhaps some of the over 500 radio stations that aired the program, may have kept archives of shows they aired. I know I've heard some radio shows older than this through people who shared them on youtube. I'm just hopeful (and, maybe too hopeful), that I'll find someone that has even one song that will add to our family's history sentiments. Thanks for you time.

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