Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 2:30 PM
Ragsdale Civic Center at Jamestown Town Hall
301 East Main Street
(behind Town Hall and beside Fire Station)
Broadcast – A Man and His Dream
A showing of Director Jordan Nance’s hour long documentary Broadcast – A Man and His Dream about Ralph Epperson and the early years of WPAQ radio plus music by the Gold Hill Bluegrass Jam Musicians
Longtime HLS member Jordan Nance has shown a love for music and history from an early age. Diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy after a premature birth in October 1983, he has faced a multitude of challenges all his life. Using a computer to communicate and a wheelchair for mobility, Jordan’s determination and persistence has allowed him to overcome many of the limitations that others would view as handicaps.
In the fall of 1992, his love of “The Andy Griffith Show” took Jordan to Mount Airy, NC for Mayberry Days. It was there that for the first time he heard bluegrass and old time music on a stage provided by WPAQ radio. He soon became a faithful listener to WPAQ in his Reidsville, NC home. In 1995 he visited the station for the first time and met founder and owner, Ralph Epperson. The two became immediate friends. Over the years Jordan’s interest in the traditional string music and musicians of the Blue Ridge grew as he connected with the history of the station through the stories and songs that Ralph shared with his listeners. This interest drove Jordan to interview Ralph just six weeks before his death in 2006. Ralph’s memories only deepened Jordan’s desire to document on film other stories about the early years of WPAQ. For the next five years Jordan researched and interviewed some forty people including pioneer musicians Benton Flippen, L.W. Lambert, and Russell Easter who were involved in the station from its beginning in 1948 through the mid 1950s. With the help of Beth Crookham whom he had met on the set of “One Tree Hill” several years earlier, Jordan began the process of turning the footage into the film he desired. After nearly two years of post-production work, his vision and perseverance were realized in the completion of his documentary, “Broadcast: A Man and His Dream” in 2013. With the documentary’s premiere on UNC-TV in February 2015, Jordan’s dream of paying tribute to Ralph Epperson and the traditional string music and musicians they both love was fulfilled.
Jordan is eager to share his documentary with the HLS membership on April 17th. Having his friend Vivian Pennington Hopkins perform the music of her dad, pioneer WPAQ musician Ralph Pennington, will be a special treat for all in attendance.
Jordan Nance and Vivian Hopkins
From Vivian Hopkins:
I was much honored when contacted by Jordan Nance asking if I would be available to perform a few songs that were recorded in the early 50’s by The Church Brothers at WPAQ in Mt Airy, NC for Ralph Epperson. Myself and a few friends will perform several songs during the presentation of the documentary, Broadcast – A Man and His Dream at the April 17th monthly meeting of the High Lonesome Strings.
My father, Ralph Pennington, spent much of his younger years performing with The Church Brothers, Jim Hall and the Crazy Mountaineers, Roy Hall and the Blue Ridge Entertainers, Don Walker and His Blue Ridge Boys, L.W. Lambert and the Carolina Neighbors. During these years he recorded with The Church Brothers (Recorded at WPAQ) and L.W. Lambert and the Carolina Neighbors.
He was not only a talented musician and luthier; he was also a gifted songwriter, penning numerous songs for the Church Brothers as well as The Stanley Brothers and at least one very well-known song which became the first song recorded by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys on their first Mercury Recording Session in Knoxville, TN in 1948. Dad was a humble man who never sought recognition or payment for his writings. He never realized that in that day how valuable the early recordings would become as the music industry grew through the years. He gladly gave his songs and music and delighted in hearing the success of the recordings, never asking for or receiving the credits as song writer. Among those songs are ‘Angel With Blue Eyes’, ‘When Jesus Calls Your Name’, Way Down In Ole Caroline’(Church Brothers), ‘I’d Rather Be Forgotten’ (Stanley Brothers), ‘Cabin in Caroline’ (Flatt & Scruggs), ‘I won’t Write Another Letter to You Darling’, The Battle Over In Korea’ (L.W. Lambert & The Carolina Neighbors).
My love of Traditional Old Time and Bluegrass Music and my commitment to doing my part to keep it alive and passing it on to the next generation is due to my dad and his comrades who taught me at an early age, that it’s ok to stay up all night and pick ‘til the roosters are crowing at dawn. Most folks will remember our twenty+ years at bluegrass festivals across the southeast as The Fifth String and Co. Today my husband Glenn (Hoppy) and I host the Montgomery General Store Friday Night Jam at Historic Gold Hill, NC which is now in its twelfth year.
I am bringing together a few friends who enjoyed picking with my dad and are more like family than friends. The music we perform on the 17th will be songs written by my dad, Ralph Pennington which was recorded by some of the best in the music industry. For the performance I will be joined by Jeff Russell on guitar and vocals, Jim Burris on mandolin and vocals, Randy Mauldin on banjo and vocals and Katie Springer on fiddle and myself on bass and vocals. We look forward to sharing the music from those early years that makes Jordan’s documentary so special.
In regards to our performance and the recognition of my dad’s music, I give much credit to the research and vision of Jordan Nance for producing a great documentary, ‘Broadcast-A Man and His Dream’; To Ben Niblock, Smithfield, NC, who spent months on end with my dad in the year preceding my dad’s death in 1992; To Gary Reid of Roanoke, VA, author of ‘The Music of the Stanley Brothers’ and ‘A Life of Sorrow – The Life and Times of Carter Stanley!’; To Ralph Stanley who gave me much information about my dad and Carter and their shared songwriting when my dad was performing with them early in their career; And to Matteo (Matt) Ringressi, Forli, Italy who is currently researching the music of The Church Brothers.