Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship
Day 8, June 10, 2009
Today I read some of the letters and contract agreements John Lair made with performers who worked (or wanted to work) on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. In 1941, Cousin Emmy was working on WNOX-Knoxville’s Mid-Day Merry Go Round Show but she could not get along with Lowell Blanchard, the announcer/producer. In a letter she wrote to John Lair in February 1941 (handwritten, in pencil, on blue stationery), asking Lair for a job, she says: “I can tell he [Blanchard] had ruther not have me here. But he cant very well fire me with out some reson. He wanted two much of a cut.” Lair wouldn’t help her either, probably because she had a pretty fiery reputation as an independent, business-minded woman.
In another letter dated August 1937, Evelyn Lange (soon to be Daisy of the Coon Creek Girls) wrote this to Lair: “I’m writing to you once again to say I’m still craving a job at your station.” She goes on to describe how she has been practicing all summer and feels “now that I am just as good a guitar player as I am a fiddler.” She closes by promising to see the WLS Barn Dance players who are coming to Ohio for a county fair appearance and asks: “May I hear from you and the prospects of a job at W.L.S.?” Lair didn’t hire Lange until 1939.
–from the Berea College Special Collections, Hutchins Library