The year of 1941 began with a change in venue. On the first show of the new year, it moved to a larger venue to accommodate the demand for seating. The show moved to the Woman's Club Auditorium at 1150 Peachtree (Peachtree and Fourteenth Streets). A small admission fee was to be charged; 40 cents for adults; 20 cents for children.
Audience demand was such that they quickly out grew the studios and on January 4, 1941, the show moved to the Atlanta Women's Club Auditorium at the corner of Peachtree and 14th Avenue in Atlanta. Still, that wasn't big enough to handle all the crowds that wanted to see the show. They went to doing two shows a night on Saturday nights and would usually broadcast the 10:30pm show over WSB.
At 3am on March 29, 1941, WSB changed its frequency on the radio dial to 750kc. It was part of a series of changes for stations across the country. Other stations in Atlanta with changes included WGST to 920kc; WAGA to 1480kc; and, WATL to 1400kc. The change affected 795 of the then 883 broadcasting stations in the country. It came about under terms of the Havana agreement which basically would to a large extent, eliminate interference from stations in Mexico.
WSB Barn Dance
|Comin' Round The Mountain
|Turn Your Radio On
|James and Martha Carson
|San Antonio Rose
|Betty and Ann (Heifner Sisters) and Linda Lou (Louise Elder)
|Ain't It Hard To Love
|Hoot Owl Hollow Girls
|Shiek of Araby
|Hank Penny, Herman Horsehair Buggfuzz (Ivy Peterson) and Louis Innis
|I Found A Hiding Place
The WSB Barn Dance members also contributed to the country's World War II efforts. The WSB Artists Bureau subscribed to the "payroll deduction plan" to enable the purchase of U. S. Defense Bonds. It was indeed a 100% all out, all hands in for this campaign. The entire casts of popular WSB programs such as the WSB Barn Dance, Barnyard Jamboree, Cracker Barrel Gang and the Little Country Church joined the payroll deduction plan.
On May 23, 1942, the show moved to the Erlanger Theatre, located on Peachtree also. You can read in author Wayne Daniel's chapter on the WSB Barn Dance that the show would play at various other venues over the years throughout Georgia, especially during the summer. We list some of the places that Mr. Daniel noted at the end of this article.
In November 1942, Ernest Rogers reported that the 20 year old Erlanger Theater had been taken over by WSB. The station signed a five-year lease with Samuel Rothberg, representing the owners of the theater.
The theater would continue to book other show attractions as it had in the past and Harrison (Chick) Kimball would take over the bookings of shows and mangement of the theater. Once the lease was signed, WSB would renovate the interior and exterior of the theater. The remodeling project would be done without any interruption to the regular Barn Dance shows. The theater was located at 533 Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.
|Atlanta, GA, circa 1942Left to right: Boots Woodall, Unknown, Pete Cassell, James Carson (real name James Roberts), Hank Penny, Mattie O'Neal (nee Opal Amburgey), Martha Carson (nee Irene Amburgey, Mrs. James Roberts), Jane Logan (nee Lily Perry, Mrs. Cotton Carrier)
|Atlanta, GA, circa 1942— Left to right: Mattie O'Neal (nee Opal Amburgey), Martha Carson (nee Irene Amburgey, Mrs. James Roberts), Jane Logan (nee Lily Perry, Mrs. Cotton Carrier), Unknown Swanee River Boy, Billy Carrier (Swanee River Boy), Chick Stripling, Harpo Kidwell.
|Left to right: Harpo Kidwell, Oscar McGooney, Slim Idaho, Little NeHi (Willie Mae Thomas), Louis Innis, Harold Dunn, Dottie Castleberry, Chick Stripling, James Carson (real name James Roberts), Herman Horsehair Buggfuzz (Ivy Peterson), Martha Carson (nee Irene Amburgey, Mrs. James Roberts), The Sunshine Boys ( Tennessee Smith, Pat Patterson, Smitty Smith, Ace Richman, Eddie Wallace), George Hughes (emcee), Chick Kimball, manager.
|Chime Bells Yodel
|Betty and Ann (The Heifner Sisters)
|How Many Bisuits Can You Eat?
|Beneath That Lonely Mound Of Clay
|James and Martha Carson
|When I Say Hello To The Rockies
|Wake Up, Susan
|The Glory Special
|Rolling Stone Blues
|Where The Red River Flows
|Freight Train Blues
In lieu of a sound bite, perhaps we can let you see a bit of the ambiance of the show as it signed off one night, by Cotton Carrier, as quoted by author Daniel:
"Its about time for us to get off the wind now, but we've had a fine time at your house tonight, and we hope that you'll let us visit with you next Saturday night at the same time, 9:30 P.M., when we'll be broadcasting from the High School Auditorium in Covington, Georgia. The `WSB Barn Dance' is a regular Saturday-night feature of WSB, the Voice of The South, Atlanta, Georgia."
|Will The Circle Be Unbroken
|James and Martha Carson
|Grasshopper Settin' On A Sweet Pertater Vine
|I'm Sending You Red Roses
|ALexander's Ragtime Band
|Swanee River Boys
|St. Louis Blues
|Red River Valley
|Try Me One More Time
|Good Old Mountain Dew
|Chick Stripling and Oscar McGooney
Research will sometimes pop up some surprises and an occasional chuckle. A letter to the editor in the Atlanta Journal on February 20, 1944 was one such occasion. A reader from Kennesaw, GA wrote a note:
"WSB is our favorite radio station, and one of our favorite programs is the Barn Dance every Saturday night. In the commercial they sing, "Hi, Baldy." Imagine our suprise when little two-year-old Patricia begann calling her baby sister, "Hi, Baldy," for the baby has plenty of hair. When we asked Pat how the name fitted, she said, "Cause she bawls a lot. — Mrs. C. Booth; Kennesaw, GA"
The show's cast included some of familiar names in hillbilly music history. And they included most of the different types of entertainment one might expect to find on a show such as the WSB Barn Dance. There were fiddlers, steel guitarists, harmonica players, accordionists, banjoists, male vocalists, female vocalists, sister acts, brother duets and more.
But What Are Their Real Names?
Research of the decade this show was on WSB has uncovered the fact some names were actually stage names or chose to not user their real names. First, Aunt Hattie - her real name was Ricca Hughes. James and Martha Carson might be the most obvious example - he was James Roberts. She was Irene Amburgey. But they both ended up using Carson as their last name for performing. And Martha Carson is actually the name on her tombstone. A small in stature female singer by the stage name of Ne-Hi (or NeHi or Nehi) was really Willie Mae Thomas. The Logan Sisters were really Betty and Christine Buice; they had their own radio program for a time over WSB as well. He was one of the show's emcees this Herman Horsehair Buggfuzz but his parents named him Ivay Peterson. The Prairie Songbirds appeared on many other radio stations including WSB. They were two sisters, Mary and Margie Humes. The Dixie Blue Bells were a female trio created by WSB. The three members were: Martha Carson (Irene Amburgey), Dottie Castleberry and Violet (Koehler?).
|The Man I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind
|At Mail Call Today
|Fire On The Mountain
|Shake My Mother's Hand
|James and Martha Carson
|Steel Guitar Wobble
|Then You'll Know What It Means To Be Blue
|In The Pines
|Georgia Peach Blossoms
|Watermelon Smilin' On The Vine
|Swanee River Boys
Author Wayne Daniel chronicles in more detail the life of the various cast members and the roles they played in his book, including some of the other directions the careers took for some of these artists. You can find more information about them and other WSB Barn Cast members throughout this site.
One of the performers was a blind singer and guitar player by the name of Pete Cassell. He was also on the WWVA Jamboree out of Wheeling, WV and was known to write a song. In 1941, he wrote a theme song of sorts that was heard for a while on the WSB Barn Dance.
"Howdy Friends and neighbors Both near and far away,
The WSB Barn Dance Will drive your cares away.
We always wear a great big smile And never shed a tear.
We try to spread some sunshine With songs you like to hear.
So, won't you come and join us And spend a little while;
We'll try to make you happy In good old country style.
So, come on to the Southland Way down here in Dixie
For you're always welcome To the WSB Barn Dance party."
|Many Tears Ago
|Riding A Bucking Mule
|Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die
|Ruth and Ruby
|Foggy Mountain Top
|I'll Be True While You're Gone
|Bugle Call Rag
|I Want To Be Ready To Meet Him
|James and Martha Carson
|I Walk Alone
|Billy In The Low Ground
Change of Venues: Erlanger Theater to College Park Auditorium
Earlier in this saga, readers learned that WSB had signed a five year lease for the Erlanger Theater in November 1942. When November 1947 rolled around, the lease was not renewed. The WSB Barn Dance show moved to the College Park Auditorium.
The old Erlanger Theater had new owners, Francis White and Harvey Smith. Among the changes they made were renaming the theater to The Tower Theater. The next change they made was the type of entertainment the theater would offer. When the theater opened under its new name, the first entertainment it brought was a movie run. Repairmen were remodeling the theater at the same time. Once done, the theater would implement a new "variety" policy, "...offering the best in moving pictures and stage shows." The first stage productions included "State Of The Union," "Joan of Lorraine," "Oklahoma!", "Harvey," and "Norway." These new stage productions would take place at the theater after the Christmas holiday and into 1948.
All of the old Erlanger marquees were taken down, to be replaced by "one of the brightest in town."
By the end of the 1940's decade, the world was changing. Radio station owners were finding it cheaper to have a disc jockey to play records rather than have live shows. Television was creeping into the world and eating into the ability of the artists to make money from personal appearances as folks stayed home. The WSB Barn Dance aired its last show on February 18, 1950.
In January 1948, WSB's television permit was granted by the Federal Communications Commision (FCC). The station was owned by the newspaper, The Atlanta Journal. In an article touting the approval, then station manager John Outler Jr. stated that the station hoped to have a "...full schedule of daily television broadcasts ihn operation by late summer." The station was allowed to operate at a maximum power of 5,000 watts, the maximum for any television station back then.
The station had granted contracts for equipment such as the 600 foot tower and antenna, new studios, mobile units in December 1947. The studios and the tower would be located on 20 acres near the intersection of Peachtree and Beverly Roads. The expected radius of their signal was to be 40 miles. It would broadcast on channel 8.
Oddly the station had first applied for a television permit in April 1931, but for whatever reason, it was never granted. A new application was submitted in December 1947.
Television was not the only new technology being used by WSB. In November 1944, they started WSB-FM.
Change of Venues: College Park Auditorium to Hapeville City Auditorium
On October 29, 1949, the venue for the now "WSB Barn Dance Party" was moved to the Hapeville City Auditorium. WSB ran ads in the Atlanta Journal for several days leading up to the new venue's debut.
Promotional ads for the show were becoming increasingly scarce by this time. The show was at late hour on Saturday night. Ads were only touting shows prior to 10:00 pm on Saturday night. The usual listing of artists and tunes to be sung or played were gone. Television and the priority WSB was giving it was perhaps making its mark.
The Barn Dances also seemed to provide an opportunity for 'cupid' to play a role as well. The WLS National Barn Dance had its share of activity. The WSB Barn Dance also had several cast members get married during its run.
Ricca (Aunt Hattie) Hughes
The Pritchett Kids
Willie Mae (Little Nehi) Thomas
Cousin Emmy Her Kinfolk
Ace Richman (Sunshine Boys)
Dennis (Boots) Woodall and His Radio Wranglers
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