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Interview with Brewster Brothers, April 20, 2005

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Bud Brewster's start as a professional musician

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Partial Transcript: --tell us where we are.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about the beginning of his career as a professional musician at age 16 with his brother Willie G. He talks about their original band, Willie & Bud the Brewster Brothers & the Smoky Mountain Hillbillies, which included Ray Myers who had no arms.

Keywords: 1953; Alabama; Alvin Bevins (Artist); Bevins, Alvin (Artist); Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Concerts; Feet; Gigs; Johnny Whisnant (Artist); Knoxville (Tenn.); Myers, Ray (Artist); No arms; Pick 'n' Grin Bluegrass Band (Artist); Professional musicians; Ray Myers (Artist); Shows; Whisnant, Johnny (Artist); Willie & Bud the Brewster Brothers & the Smoky Mountain Hillbillies (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance

00:02:32 - Bud Brewster--Working for Cas Walker

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, came back to Knoxville and went to work then for Cas Walker.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about the Brewster Brothers' career on Cas Wlaker's radio and television shows. He talks about some of the guests they worked with and some of the antics on set.

Keywords: "The Solemn Old Judge"; 1954-1972; Antics; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Concerts; Dolly Parton (Artist); Family; George D. Hay; Gigs; Grand Ole Opry; Hank Williams (Artist); Hay, George D.; Hee Haw (Television program); Jokes; Knoxville (Tenn.); Money; Parton, Dolly (Artist); Payment; Shows; Television shows; The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Walker, Cas (Artist); Williams, Hank (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Television programs.

00:06:25 - Bud Brewster--Childhood and early musical influences

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Partial Transcript: Let's, uh, let's go back and talk about your upbringing.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about his childhood on a dairy farm, learning to play guitar from his sister, and some of his early influences on the radio.

Keywords: Allen Shelton (Artist); Bailey, Charlie (Artist); Banjos; Bass; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Ray (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Brothers; Bud Brewster (Artist); Capos; Cattle; Charlie Bailey (Artist); Dairy farmers; Dreams; Earl Scruggs (Artist); Guitars; Hack Johnson (Artist); Income; Influences; Johnson, Hack (Artist); Learning; Learning to play; Louvin Brothers (Artist); Money; Parents; Payment; Radio; Ray Brewster (Artist); Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Sharecroppers; Shelton, Allen (Artist); Singers; Singing; Sisters; Upbringing; Vocalists (singers); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Childhood; Music--Instruction and study.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability in children.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance

00:10:49 - Bud Brewster--Recording with Carl Story

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Partial Transcript: But playing the banjo was my dream and it finally came to pass in 1957.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about recording his first song with Carl Story, "Mocking Banjo." He talks about playing shows at churches. He talks about the process of recording in the studio.

Keywords: 1957; Albums; Boone, Claude (Artist); Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers (Artist); Carl Story (Artist); Churches; Clarence "Tater" Tate (Artist); Claude Boone (Artist); Concerts; Cover songs; Demos; Gigs; Hits; Income; Jackson, Tommy (Artist); Light At the River (Song); Mercury Records; Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round (Radio program); Mistakes; Mocking Banjo (Song); Money; Musical styles; Payment; Publishing companies; Recording sessions; Shows; Singing; Songwriting; Starday Records; Story, Carl (Artist); Studio time; Tate, Clarence "Tater" (Artist); Tommy Jackson (Artist); WNOX (Radio station); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:16:56 - Bud Brewster--Instruments and tunings

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Partial Transcript: Um, well, well tell us about your, your choice in instruments.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about how he received his first instrument and discusses his preferred brands. He talks about how they didn't set out to become famous by playing music.

Keywords: Awareness; Banjos; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Choices; Competition; Fame; Gibson Mastertone Banjo; Gibson RB-250 Banjo; Guitars; John Henry Blues (Song); Mandolins; Martin guitars; Pastors; Popularity; Pure; Standard tuning; Talent; Tuning; Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance

00:21:03 - Bud Brewster--Playing with his brother Willie G.

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Partial Transcript: Um, well, tell us about your brothers and playing with them.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about what it was like to play music with his older brother, Willie G., after the death of their brother Ray.

Keywords: Accidents; Age; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Brothers; Bud Brewster (Artist); Death; Family; Generations; Killed; Singers; Singing; Standard; Treatment; Typical; Vocalists (singers); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance

00:23:22 - Bud Brewster--Shows at Buddy's Bar-B-Q and the Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center in the 1970s

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Partial Transcript: In, uh, 1971, uh, I started building houses.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about forming the Pinnacle Boys in the early 1970s and how they came to play shows at Buddy's Bar-B-Q and the Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center. He talks about other musicians who came to play at the height of the shows' popularity.

Keywords: 1970s; 1971; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Buddy's Bar-B-Q; Builders; Cas Walker (Artist); Changes; Concerts; Don Reno (Artist); Dueling banjos; Gigs; Houses; Jamming; Knoxville (Tenn.); Knoxville Grass (Artist); Music scene; Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center; Pinnacle Boys (Artist); Popularity; Reno, Don (Artist); Ricky Skaggs (Artist); Shows; Skaggs, Ricky (Artist); The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Touring; Tours; Uncle Pen (Song); Walker, Cas (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist); World's Fair

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:30:06 - Bud Brewster--Last album with his brother Willie G.

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Partial Transcript: So when was the last time you and your brother played together?

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about the last time he played with his brother Willie G.

Keywords: 1971; Albums; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Brothers; Bud Brewster (Artist); Churches; Signature songs; The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:31:23 - Bud Brewster--Instruments in a bluegrass band

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Partial Transcript: So you mentioned picking up the ban--uh, the mandolin.

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about why he started playing the mandolin. He talks about the classic set of bluegrass band instruments.

Keywords: Banjo players; Banjos; Bass; Bass players; Bassists; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Dobro players; Dobros; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Fun; Guitar players; Guitars; Mandolin players; Mandolins

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance

00:33:29 - Bud Brewster--Future of bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: Well, where, where do you think the, the bluegrass music is going?

Segment Synopsis: Bud Brewster talks about the future of bluegrass music and gives advice for people interested in learning to play.

Keywords: Advice; Bad habits; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Future; Growth; Instructors; Learning to play; Quality; Teaching; Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Instruction and study.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance

00:35:06 - Willie G. Brewster--Early radio shows with his brother Ray

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Partial Transcript: --you start.

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. Brewster talks about how he and his brother Ray began playing on the radio. He talks about being invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry and why they did not continue to play there. He talks about the death of his brother Ray.

Keywords: "The Solemn Old Judge"; 1942; 1948; Accidents; Bailey, Danny (Artist); Boone, Claude (Artist); Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Ray (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Brother teams; Brothers; Bud Brewster (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Claude Boone (Artist); Contests; Danny Bailey (Artist); Deaths; George D. Hay; Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Grant Turner (Artist); Hay, George D.; Income; Knoxville (Tenn.); Money; Nashville (Tenn.); Payment; Ray Brewster (Artist); The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Turner, Grant (Artist); WBIR (Radio station); WNOX (Radio station); WROL (Radio station); Walker, Cas (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist); World War II

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Television programs.

00:40:41 - Willie G. Brewster--Working with the Johnson Brothers

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Partial Transcript: But anyhow, lord there's so much.

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. Brewster talks about working with Hack and Clyde, the Johnson Brothers. He talks about how much he was paid while working on Cas Walker's show. He talks more about working with the Johnson Brothers and Ray Myers, "the armless musician."

Keywords: Arms; Brewster, Ray (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Clyde Johnson (Artist); Concerts; Feet; Gigs; Hack Johnson (Artist); Income; Johnson Brothers (Artist); Johnson, Clyde (Artist); Johnson, Hack (Artist); Jokes; Myers, Ray (Artist); North Carolina; Payment; Pranks; Ray Brewster (Artist); Ray Myers (Artist); Shows; Steel guitars; The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); WNOX (Radio station); WROL (Radio station); Wages; Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.

00:44:59 - Brewster Brothers

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Partial Transcript: Then, then after you were, uh--after you joined the Johnson Brothers...

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk about the early Brewster Brothers band. They talk about how they came to work for Cas Walker. They tell a story about Red Rector and Fred Smith pranking Kentucky Slim.

Keywords: 1953; 1954; 1955; Afraid; Alabama; Alvin Bevins (Artist); Bass fiddles; Bevins, Alvin (Artist); Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Charles "Kentucky Slim" Elza (Artist); Concerts; Crowds; Elza, Charles "Kentucky Slim" (Artist); Farms; Fights; Fred Smith (Artist); Gigs; Income; Johnny Whisnant (Artist); Jokes; Knoxville (Tenn.); Money; Payment; Pigs; Pranks; Raleigh (N.C.); Rector, Red (Artist); Red Rector (Artist); Shows; Smith, Fred (Artist); Somerset (Ky.); The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); WBIR (Radio station); WPTF (Radio station); Walker, Cas (Artist); Whisnant, Johnny (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Television programs.

00:51:34 - Brewster Brothers--Playing with Carl Story

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Partial Transcript: Then in nineteen--uh, you know, when Carl Story came to work for Cas...

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk more about recording with Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers.

Keywords: Albums; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Businesses; Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers (Artist); Carl Story (Artist); Charlie Monroe (Artist); Helen Story; Mobile homes; Monroe, Charlie (Artist); Retirement; Story, Carl (Artist); Story, Helen; Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:53:22 - Willie G. Brewster--Childhood musical abilities

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Partial Transcript: How, how come you to start playing music to begin with?

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. Brewster talks about learning to play guitar from his sister Betty. He talks about how their abilities improved over time.

Keywords: "The Solemn Old Judge"; Better; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Changes; Duets; Family; Family bands; Fathers; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; George D. Hay; Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Guitar players; Guitars; Hay, George D.; Improvement; Mandolin players; Mandolins; Sisters; Willie G. Brewster (Artist); Young

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Childhood; Music--Performance.; Musical ability in children.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance

00:55:49 - Brewster Brothers--"Mocking Banjo"

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Partial Transcript: Now did you write music yourselves?

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk about one song they wrote, "Mocking Banjo," which was based on "Feuding Banjos." The song was used to create the song "Dueling Banjos" from the film "Deliverance."

Keywords: Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Cover songs; Covers; Deliverance (Motion picture); Dueling Banjos (Song); Feuding Banjos (Song); Income; Mocking Banjo (Song); Money; Payment; Royalties; Songs; Songwriting; Turkey in the Straw (Song); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance

00:58:44 - Brewster Brothers--Traveling with Carl Story to record albums

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Partial Transcript: But we had people, uh, we had people in Ohio, uh, several of those northern states would pay us to come up...

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk more about playing and recording with Carl Story. They talk about the difficulty of travel in those days. They talk about some of their more popular songs.

Keywords: Albums; Alcohol; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Paul (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers (Artist); Carl Story (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Churches; Eddie Hill (Artist); Falls; Fiddle players; Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Hill, Eddie (Artist); Income; Ira Louvin (Artist); Just A Rose Will Do (Song); Live albums; Louvin Brothers (Artist); Louvin, Ira (Artist); Mandolin players; Mandolins; Money; Paul Brewster (Artist); Payment; Popularity; Signature songs; Story, Carl (Artist); Touring; Tours; Transportation; Travel; Walker, Cas (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:04:54 - Brewster Brothers--Impact of their career

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Partial Transcript: Well what kind of, uh, effect do you think you've had on bluegrass music as a whole?

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk about the impact of their career on bluegrass music as a whole. They talk about Cas Walker's theme song.

Keywords: Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Churches; Effects; Fans; Friends; Impact; Influences; The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Theme songs; Walker, Cas (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance

01:06:38 - Brewster Brothers--Photographs of their career

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Partial Transcript: Okay, this picture was made at, uh, WNOX Studios back in, uh, the ni--early sixties.

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster display photographs from their career, listing who is in each picture and telling stories about their lives. They describe what it was like to work on Cas Walker's television and radio shows and tell more stories about the antics on set. They describe Cas Walker's personality. They talk more about recording with Carl Story.

Keywords: Albums; Bailes Brothers (Artist); Bailey, Danny (Artist); Blackface; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Ray (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Carl Story (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Cas Walker's Bunch (Artist); Clarence "Tater" Tate (Artist); Claude Boone (Artist); Clyde Johnson (Artist); Danny Bailey (Artist); Fights; Four Brothers Quartet (Artist); Funerals; Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Hack Johnson (Artist); Happy Valley Boys (Artist); Honey Wiles (Artist); Huskey, Roy “Junior” (Artist); Jam Up and Honey (Artist); Johnny Whisnant (Artist); Johnson, Clyde (Artist); Johnson, Hack (Artist); Jokes; Knoxville (Tenn.); Legs; Mayors; Myers, Ray (Artist); Ray Brewster (Artist); Ray Myers (Artist); Roy "Junior" Huskey (Artist); Set lists; Smokey White (Artist); Songs; Story, Carl (Artist); Tate, Clarence "Tater" (Artist); Television shows; WSM (Radio station); Walker, Cas (Artist); Webster Brothers (Artist); Whisnant, Johnny (Artist); White, Smokey; Wiles, Honey (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Television programs.

01:21:40 - Brewster Brothers--Cas Walker's personality

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Partial Transcript: --gonna film this?

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster talk more about what it was like to work for Cas Walker. They describe his power as a local politician, his fights with other politicians, and his frugal nature despite being a multimillionaire.

Keywords: Bailey, Danny (Artist); Ballyhooing; Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bryson City (N.C.); Bud Brewster (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Concerts; Danny Bailey (Artist); Dogs; Fear; Fights; Gigs; Houses; Income; Money; Multimillionaires; Oatmeal; Payment; Personalities; Police departments; Politicking; Powerful; Restaurants; Shows; Speeding; The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour (Radio program); Walker, Cas (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Television programs.

01:26:00 - Brewster Brothers--Albums and photographs of their career

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Partial Transcript: [Silence until 1:27:08]

--this group here?

Segment Synopsis: Willie G. and Bud Brewster display photographs from their career, listing who is in each picture and telling stories about their lives. They describe what it was like to work on Cas Walker's show. They talk more about their recording sessions.

Keywords: 1977; Albums; Boone, Claude (Artist); Brewster, Bud (Artist); Brewster, Willie G. (Artist); Bud Brewster (Artist); Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers (Artist); Carl Story (Artist); Cas Walker (Artist); Churches; Clarence "Tater" Tate (Artist); Claude Boone (Artist); Collins, Randall (Artist); Comedians; Comedy; Contracts; Credits; Dolly Parton (Artist); Four Brothers Quartet (Artist); Fred Smith (Artist); Funerals; Guitars; Jerry Moore (Artist); Jim Smith (Artist); Jokes; Larry Mathis (Artist); Laughing; Louvin Brothers (Artist); Mashburn, Rob (Artist); Mathis, Larry (Artist); Moore, Jerry (Artist); Pants; Parton, Dolly (Artist); Pinnacle Boys (Artist); Pony; Rain; Randall Collins (Artist); Recording sessions; Rector, Red (Artist); Red Rector (Artist); Redgate Bluegrass Festivals; Rob Mashburn (Artist); Singing; Sisters; Smith, Fred (Artist); Smith, Jim (Artist); Songs; Stores; Story, Carl (Artist); Tate, Clarence "Tater" (Artist); Television shows; Trios; Uncle Pen (Song); Walker, Cas (Artist); Webster Brothers (Artist); Willie G. Brewster (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Music--Performance.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Television programs.

01:48:19 - Buddy's Bar-B-Q and the Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center

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Partial Transcript: [Silence]

Segment Synopsis: Buddy's Bar-B-Q and the Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center are displayed. The interview is concluded.

[This portion of the recording is silent.]

Keywords: Buddy's Bar-B-Q; Pick 'n' Grin Music World Center

Subjects: Music--Performance.; Musical performance