A dose of Heartland Americana this weekend. In 1952, Rock n’ Roll hadn’t been invented yet – it was in the woodshedding stages and hadn’t been unleashed on the public. No, before all that a good chunk of it owed its birth to Country-Western, and Hillbilly, from which Rock-A-Billy eventually morphed. But this hybrid of Country music was the stuff of Rural America. And shows like this one, Stokley’s Hi-Noon Roundup, spoke to that huge community of people living in the farmlands across the Mid-West. The sponsor, Stokley-Van Camps, was one of the larger producers of canned vegetables in the country – and much of its success was owed to the farmers and suppliers throughout the Midwest, or Heartland America.
This was traditional Country music in a traditional setting – with a portion of the program devoted to a hymn and the folksy salutations to anniversaries, birthdays and milestone events. It was bookended by Country tunes and bluegrass which was the predominant musical form in this part of the country, and which now bears no resemblance of what’s currently being classified as Country-Western music.
But like all Musical genres, Country music has gone through a lot of changes and modifications over the years. You don’t hear this kind of Country music much on the radio anymore. If you do, it’s mostly likely in the context of the great practitioners of this period; the Hank Williams’ and the Carter Family‘s of the period.
So, to get an idea of what rural Middle-America was listening to in the early 1950s, here is what WMPS in Memphis Tennessee was broadcasting in 1952. Skip Skipper was the star attraction, and for 15 minutes you will be immersed in a slice of Hillbilly and bluegrass. And remember, this was Memphis in 1952. Just a few short years later . . . .