The WBT Briarhoppers

Eight Decades of a Bluegrass Band Made for Radio


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About the Book

In 1934, WBT radio announcer Charles Crutchfield formed a spur-of-the-moment musical group to satisfy a potential sponsor looking for a “hillbilly” radio program to showcase its products. Known as the WBT Briarhoppers, this group went on to become one of the longest lasting bluegrass/country ensembles in America, staying on the air until 1951 and then continuing to perform. Compiled from firsthand interviews, this work tells the story of the WBT Briarhoppers, analyzing the band’s history and its connection to the growth of American radio and radio advertising. Using the Briarhoppers as a common thread, it examines changes in culture and the group’s contribution to country and bluegrass music. The work also discusses legendary performers including the Tennessee Ramblers, The Johnson Family, and Bill and Charlie Monroe. A discography is included.

About the Author(s)

Environmental engineer Tom Warlick is a banjoist and founder of Bluegrass Thursday Nights and the Clover Barn Dance in Clover, South Carolina.

Lucy Warlick is an artist, potter and poet who was a finalist in the James Hearst National Poetry Awards. They live in Clover.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Warlick and Lucy Warlick

Foreword by Robert Inman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3144-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8294-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert Inman      1
Preface      3

1. The 1920s: The Big Bang of Country Music      7
2. The 1930s: Charles Crutchfield Goes Rabbit Hunting      12
3. The 1940s: The Golden Age of the WBT Briarhoppers      49
4. The 1950s: Elvis Who?      116
5. The 1960s: This Was a Time for Rock and Roll      126
6. The 1970s: The Phoenix Rises      130
7. The 1980s: The Charlotte Country Music Story      137
8. The 1990s: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door      149
9. The 2000s: The WBT Briarhoppers at Twilight      159

Afterword      168
Appendix A: Letters to the Briarhopper Fans      173
Appendix B: Partial Discography of the WBT Briarhoppers
and Individual Band Members      175
Appendix C: WBT Briarhopper Comings and Goings      187
Notes      191
Bibliography      201
Index      205

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Willie Parker Peace Award—North Carolina Society of Historians
  • “fascinating”—The Bluegrass Blabber
  • “required reading for anyone interested in Southern music…a labor of love”—Charlotte Observer
  • “defiinitive…exhaustively researched and documented study…fascinating…a valuable contribution”—Bluegrass Unlimited
  • “compelling…delightful…comprehensive”—The Old Radio Times
  • “compelling…a study encompassing more than music and musicians…delightful…conprehensive”—Metropolitan Washington OTR Club Newsletter
  • “The WBT Briarhoppers have influenced lovers of old time mountain music for over 60 years. They are an institution”—David Holt, Grammy Award-Winning Musician and Storyteller
  • “During eight decades running from the Golden Age of Radio to Folk Heritage honors at the North Carolina’s governor’s mansion, the WBT Briarhoppers was everybody’s favorite radio band. Don’t touch that dial…Hit’s Briarhopper Time!”—Dr. Tom Hanchett, Historian for the Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, North Carolina