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WSM Radio - The Birth of The Grand Ole Opry - DeFord Bailey "The Harmonica Wizard"

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) with Laura Folger Mixed by Jim McKee at Earwax Productions, San Francisco

Ernest Tubb

Hank Williams

Hams and Shoulders

Roy Acuff

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Prints Courtesy of
Hatch Show Prints

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    Charles Wolfe tells the story of Hatch Show Print
    Alongside the lost & found sounds of the Grand Ole Opry and The Pan-American Blues, there's another story that is more for the eye than the ear. Hatch Show Print, the company that produced posters for many Opry performers and music legends, left a lengthy legacy in ink -- a collection of images that capture a bygone era in American entertainment.

    In the process of creating our story, The Kitchen Sisters spoke with Charles Wolfe about Hatch Show Print and its importance to country music. Dr. Wolfe is a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, where he teaches courses in folklore, science fiction, and popular culture. He is the author of over fifteen books, including A Good Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry, and he serves as the editor of the Tennessee Folklore Society Quarterly and co-editor of Studies in Country Music.

    "When the Opry started going out and doing show dates in the thirties, nobody really knew how to publicize and promote country shows. They tried a number of things -- creating trailers they would show in the local theaters, radio advertising -- that didn't work too well.

    "They found that the most effective way of letting people know that a show was coming to town was to use window cards. These are posters that are maybe eleven by fourteen inches. They would have all the details of the show: where, when, how much. And whenever you made up your show cards, you always put at the very top: 'From WSM's Grand Ole Opry.' Because that was the seal of approval -- if you had that on there, people knew they were getting the best country music,

  • Listen to Charles Wolfe talk more about the role of show cards.

    "Let's say Bill Monroe books five nights of concerts. Before he takes off in his car he will go down to a place that was located just behind the old Rieman auditorium, called Hatch Show Print. Hatch was a poster company that was founded in Nashville in eighteen eighty. Nashville was a vaudeville headquarters in those days -- they had sixteen theaters , they were also a headquarters for a vaudeville booking circuit as well as the Theater Owners Booking Association circuit that booked black vaudeville. So Hatch Show Print emerged as one of the South's leading printers of show bills. They would print up show cards not only for Grand Ole Opry stars, but also for circuses, for blues singers, for almost anything. They used old-fashioned, hand engraved wood blocks and they printed their posters out out on very, very old heavy presses.

  • Listen to Charles Wolfe tell about the rediscovery of Hatch Show Print and its rebirth as a working museum.

  • See Charle's Wolfe's Web page.
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    Copyright 2000 The Kitchen Sisters