Some folks, when asked to define bluegrass music, might simply hand you a picture of Bill Monroe. Others might put forth an argument about banjos, or harmonies, or electric instruments. Many folks in recent years have been leaning toward a more a “big tent” description. However, one of the best definitions I’ve heard in recent years comes from bluegrass broadcaster Charles Hayes.
What’s bluegrass to Hayes? “The heartbeat of America,” he says. I think that’s one we can all agree on.
Hayes, the producer and host of The Grass Roots Bluegrass Show on Hendersonville, North Carolina’s WHKP, is a longtime bluegrass fan who has been involved with radio for the past thirteen years. He started out purchasing airtime for a radio ministry, but several years ago, the station offered him a Saturday morning time slot at no cost. Now, he’s on the air every Saturday, splitting his airtime into two segments: an hour of classic country music from 6:00-7:00 a.m., followed by a longer chunk of bluegrass. Hayes is also on the air every Sunday, hosting the station’s Gospel Train show, and occasionally can be heard on special live remote broadcasts.
Although his “regular” job is working as an electrical contractor, Hayes loves spending his weekends in the bluegrass world. “I do this for the love of the music and to expose people to the art of bluegrass, both young and old alike,” he says.
We recently had the chance to ask Hayes a few questions about his thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what he had to say.
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“Jimmy Martin, The King of Bluegrass.”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“Balsam Range, Five.”
Artists who are interested in sending their music to Hayes for airplay consideration can send him MP3 files to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send physical copies of their music to him at:
4423 Sugarloaf Road
Hendersonville, NC 28792
If you host a bluegrass radio show and would like to participate in our chart as a weekly reporter, please fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you.