Close your eyes and imagine this: an upright radio with a big round dial on the front, with fiddle tunes coming through the speakers. A family gathered around it in the living room, waiting for their favorite song to come on so they can roll back the rug and dance.
“That’s kinda the mood I like to set on my show a lot now,” says Jerry Eicher, host of the Ol’ Hippie Bluegrass Show.
Eicher can remember that very scene taking place at his grandparents’ house when he was a child. He can also remember watching square dances in the Ottokee Township Hall near his hometown of Lyons, Ohio – the first place he ever saw a banjo played live. Another vivid memory is visiting family friends who liked to tune in WSM late at night to catch the Opry, giving Eicher his first chance to hear legends like Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs.
Along with Randy Shaffer, Eicher began the Ol’ Hippie Bluegrass Show in June 2008. The two friends had been discussing how there was a lack of bluegrass music on the radio in their area, and decided to start their own show. They found a station that would provide them with airtime, gathered sponsors, and within two weeks were on the air. They originally began broadcasting at midnight on Saturdays, but the station moved it back to 11:00 p.m. after listeners complained about the late start time.
Today, Eicher is joined by new co-host Brad Long, a longtime guitarist and mandolin player from northwest Ohio, and their show is broadcast twice a week (Saturdays at 11:00 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.) on WQTE in Adrian, Michigan. Each show can also be listened to online via Mixcloud, with links provided through their website, www.olhippiebluegrassshow.com. Eicher still makes sure that there is some classic bluegrass sent out over the airwaves each week, just like he listened to as a boy, but listeners will also hear contemporary artists like the Grascals, Breaking Grass, and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, as well as up-and-coming local bands from the show’s listening area.
We recently had the chance to ask Eicher a few questions about his thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“Old time mixed with blues. ‘Bluesgrass.’ ”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“Steeldrivers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Gibson Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Claire Lynch.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“This is so tough. I can’t pick one. Hmm… right now I am mesmerized with the new Steep Canyon Rangers album. Every song is different, just when you think it might stay the same (you hope because the last one was so good!). You want to hear more because it’s so good. It changes, but it catches your ear and it’s just as good but different! So you can listen to it over and over. I did! I do!”
What album or artist is currently in your car stereo?
“Steep Canyon Rangers.”
Artists who are interested in submitting their music to Eicher for airplay consideration can mail him a physical copy of their music. “Nothing like a CD with great liner notes to help you make the show!” he says. “But, if it’s a single fresh out I’ll download it. But hopefully there is a CD on the way soon. Plus, they look good on my walls!”
His mailing address is:
10131 Co. Rd. N
Delta, OH 43515
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