Raleigh Adventure?

World of BluegrassI got this note from Jan Johansson, the Swedish fiddle player and teacher who currently resides in Cary, a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh is, of course, venue for the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass convention later this year (Raleigh Convention Center, September 24-28).

If there has been any wonder why the IBMA chose Raleigh to be host to their big week of the year, then a quick glance below provides many positive answers why.

Jan Johansson“I am helping the Raleigh City Museum to put together an exhibit about the history of bluegrass music on the radio – primarily WPTF. Charlie and Bill Monroe were here 1936-1938, Flatt & Scruggs lived in a boarding house, which is now a restaurant, across the street from the North Carolina State University campus. Clyde Moody owned a car-dealership in Raleigh, and a fair number of good artists were on WPTF including the Bailey Brothers, Jim Eanes…

What I would like to do is to get a few of us together and go in a van around town to places where these people lived, and the old studios and stuff.

Would you be interested in such Blue Grass archaeological excursion? I know there will be a few diehards who would probably get a kick out of it…”

Now this sounds exciting. Let us know if you are interested in such a tour.

The Stanley Brothers had a six-month stint there in 1949 and Flatt & Scruggs were based there from January through to early September in 1952. Lots of country musicians worked at WPTF, including Charlie Monroe, Johnnie & Jack, the Briarhoppers, Chet Atkins and Tommy Scott in addition to the acts already mentioned.

The station that became WPTF first went on the air in 1924. Then it became WPTF when it was bought by the Durham Life Insurance Company in 1927. It became an NBC affiliate in 1929. After several increases in power, WPTF went from 5,000 watts to 50,000 watts in 1941. Today, unfortunately, its format is talk radio; no music.

My thanks are due to Penny Parsons and Gary B Reid for this information about WPTF. For more information see Art Menius’s blog story about country music in the triangle.

A team from Bluegrass Today will be in Raleigh next week to conduct interviews with officials from the Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, and put together a video and photo tour of the new WOB facilities.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.