Learn more about the fascinating history of rural music with two new Honky Tonks, Hymns and the Blues specials hosted by Paul Brown.  Based on the original Honky Tonks Series that aired on NPR News' Morning Edition, these specials are perfect for the summer holidays!

    From Field Recordings to Superstars  
    In 1927, dozens of rural, mostly amateur musicians from the mountains of the upper South streamed into Bristol, Tennessee many by horse and wagon to  try out at a mega recording session organized by Victor Records. Their desire -- to get that big break, and get off the farm. The company's idea -- to find new talent for its roster of hillbilly artists. Victor made two huge discoveries: The Carter Family, with a riveting, wholesome sound driven by great singing and powerful guitar work; and Jimmie Rodgers, a carefree, yodeling, guitar-picking railroad man who broke away from his string band to try a few songs on his own and would become the first true superstar of country music. As we tell our story, the connection between Delta blues players and ladies' parlor music of the elite Northeast starts to emerge and we'll hear the start of the evolution of the guitar in America, the dominant instrument in popular music.
  Raising the Roof  

It was small, and portable. It could sing like a bird or wail like a bluesman. Musicians from all across the European continent brought the fiddle when they came to America, and gave it fresh, new voices as they melded European and African influences.  We'll hear the haunting sounds of early white and African-American fiddle bands, find out about aces like Eck Robertson and Fiddlin' John Carson, who showed the record companies that rural music could sell  -- and meet a charismatic Texan named Bob Wills who came from a sharecropper's childhood to redefine the fiddle sound and pack dance halls with his Texas swing. As Bob Wills collaboration with Texas Playboys guitarist Leon McAuliffe shows, guitar evolved along with the fiddle.  We'll hear how the guitar was first electrified by Bob Dunn. At that time, the accordion was squeezing its way into the scene as well, driven by Cajun, Mexican, German and Czech influences. Father and Son accordion legends Flaco and Santiago Jimenez, and Pearly Sowell add their music and insight.

  To stream the shows, hosted by NPR, click here.  

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