The True Spirit of Christmas at Farm and Fun Time!

The warmth of the holiday season was all around us as festive bluegrass music filled the air at Farm and Fun Time on December 13! Thanks to our sponsor Eastman Credit Union, Radio Bristol was able to bring Farm and Fun Time to not only those in the audience or tuned in to WBCM-LP, but to viewers far and wide via Facebook Live. Be sure to like WBCM – Radio Bristol on Facebook to tune in every month!

Left: The full band of Bill and the Belles sing on the Farm and Fun Time stage, with a small vintage Christmas tree front and center with the mic. Center: A close up of Louise Bouton singing. Right: Bill and the Belles in front of the full Performance Theater.
Bill and the Belles were joined in spreading holiday cheer by Louise Bouton, who performed on WCYB’s Farm and Fun Time in the 1950s. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Host band Bill and the Belles started the show off with some Christmas favorites, including Louise Bouton joining them on stage for a moving rendition of “Blue Christmas.” Louise performed on WCYB’s original Farm and Fun Time and can still sing with the best of them. Once a star, always a star! This month’s “Heirloom Recipe” segment was presented by Judy “Butterfly” Farlow, a gifted storyteller and ventriloquist who has performed for audiences far and wide, including as Mrs. Claus at the White House. Judy recalled a childhood memory of when she baked a batch of biscuits with some, shall we say, “well-loved” dough she had been playing with for weeks. Though we didn’t get the recipe for these biscuits, Judy told the crowd all about Christmas jelly, and Bill and the Belles “jammed” on a jingle to celebrate this festive spread.

Judy "Butterfly" Farlow in front of the Christmas mic sharing her story of childhood biscuits.
Judy “Butterfly” Farlow delivering the “Heirloom Recipe” segment about how *NOT* to bake biscuits… © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Our first musical guest of the evening was the McLain Family Band. Having performed together for over 50 years, the McLain Family is a favorite with bluegrass audiences across the globe. Though McLains have been performing together for decades, each member is a highly acclaimed bluegrass musician in their own right. While you might turn up your nose at the idea of a set of the same old tired Christmas music, the McLains could have grown the heart of any musical Grinch several sizes with their performance filled with original Christmas songs. With their astounding musicianship and high-spirited positivity, the McLain Family Band’s holiday cheer was certainly a high point of the season for all in attendance, in-person and over the air. 

Left: The full McLain Family Band. Center: A close up of the McLain guitar player. Right: A close up of the McLain mandolin and bass players.
The McLain Family Band wowing the audience with 50 years of experience. © Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

This month’s “Radio Bristol Farm Report” went back in time at Rocky Mount State Historic Park. Rocky Mount’s Candlelight Christmas lets visitors experience the holiday season as it would have been for settlers on the East Tennessee Frontier in 1791. Here’s a video from our visit:

Concluding the set was Rebel Records recording artists High Fidelity. A favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, High Fidelity captures the spirit of the artists who defined bluegrass as a genre while carrying those sounds into the future. Though drawing heavily from many sources, including Jesse McReynolds, a Southwest Virginia legend with whom Jeremy Stephens and Corrina Rose Logston both perform, this evening’s show featured music from Don Reno and Red Smiley’s  “The True Meaning of Christmas,” in addition to favorites from High Fidelity’s two albums. Stephens and Logston were joined by Daniel Amick, one of the 2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalists of the Year, and Brad Benge. Featuring high-energy bluegrass music, featuring twin-banjos (!), High Fidelity is not to be missed when they play near you!

Top left: A close up of the bass player. Top right: The full High Fidelity band.
Bottom left: A close up of the fiddle and banjo players.
Bottom right: A close up of the High Fidelity guitarist.
High Fidelity channeling sounds from the early days of bluegrass in a special festive set.
© Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler

Thanks to everyone who came out and shared in this wonderful evening of music! We hope you all have the happiest of holidays and the best in the new decade. Tickets are on sale for January’s show featuring C.W. Stoneking, Vaden Landers Band, and host band Bill and the Belles, but they’re going fast. We hope to see you there!

Two festive props from December's Farm and Fun Time: a vintage Santa and a garland bedecked bass.
© Birthplace of Country Music; photographer: Billie Wheeler
Production Assistant at Radio Bristol

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