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Briarhoppers celebrate 80 years of bluegrass music

The Charlotte Folk Society will be celebrating with the WBT Briarhoppers as they mark their 80 year birthday with a concert on Saturday, August 30, 2014, 8:00 p.m. at the McGlohan Theatre.

CFS representative Wanda Hubriki adds,

When the Briarhoppers call out, ‘Do y'all know what hit is?’ you'll want to be there to answer, ‘Hit's Briarhopper time!’

This call and response has been the opening for their concerts and radio shows for 8 decades.

This band was sought in 1934 by Charles Crutchfield, WBT’s station manager, to fill a request for a hillbilly band for a potential sponsor. While he didn’t have any candidates at the time, he took a leap of faith, confirmed that he did have a group, and organized it.

WBT announcer Bill Bivens’ reaction to a jack rabbit while on a hunting trip with Crutchfield inspired the name for the band. The startled Bivens shouted, “Look at that briarhopper!” Crutchfield heard it, liked it and the rest is history.

In their heyday, the Briarhoppers were getting as many as 10,000 pieces of mail from admirers each week. Their fan base included such luminaries as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and many more entertainers.

As time passed, new members replaced those who had left or passed on, and the Briarhoppers retain the record as the world’s longest continuing bluegrass band.

The Briarhoppers were honored in 2003 at the Governor's Mansion with a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, the highest award offered by the state for traditional artists.

Their show will include old gems, new songs, and the original commercials for Radio Girl Perfume, Peruna Tonic, Kolor Bak dye for gray hair, and other household products that were once an important part of their radio broadcasts.

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is offering a $5 discount on orchestra seating to Charlotte Folk Society members, so this might be a great time to join. Buy discounted tickets here: www.blumenthalarts.org/charlottefolksociety