A special TRIBUTE goes to Dr. Bobby Jones and to Jay Mebane for helping to start the OPRY itself and eventually to begin the radio show production for WGWG 88.3 FM. Without these individuals (and many others) the OPRY would never have been a success and might not even become a reality.
Dr. Bobby Jones (Mr. Mandolin) was a major force in the beginning of the OPRY as a place to gather on Saturday nights and along with his bands and fellow musicians over the years, helped to make it a successful and wonderful experience. Without Dr. Bobby, we would have been at a terrible loss and might not have even begun. His band "River Bend Bluegrass" was one of the first bands to ever perform at the OPRY and eventually "NEW RIVER" and "FLINTHILL" bands took their place on the OPRY stage. A DEEP SENSE of GRATITUDE and THANKS to Dr. Bobby Jones for his caring and support over all the years the OPRY continued.
Jay Mebane "Mr. Promoter" was instrumental helping to
establish The OPRY "LiveAtLeatherwoods" as a radio broadcast beginning
in 1995 with the cooperation of WGWG 88.3 FM, Jeff Powell and Noel
Manning. Jay recorded several of the first performances and also loaned
the OPRY a studio quality mixing board along with other sound equipment
that resulted in a "special sound". In addition, John Reid with Shelby
Music provided equipment to help kick start the shows and to him we are
also grateful. Many of the bands commented on how good the sound was
and how much they enjoyed playing at "LEATHERWOODS". Steve Leatherwood
was the regular 'sound man' and managed to record all of the 600 some
shows. Those performances were edited and remixed to broadcast over
WGWG-FM (Gardner-Webb), WSGE-FM (Gaston College) and CLASSIC COUNTRY
1390 AM Shelby. Thanks to all these individuals for their support and
encouragement over the years.
Without a doubt, one of the most talented musicians to ever grace the stage of the OPRY was DEMPSEY YOUNG, a "stylist" as Alan Mills dubbed him on the MANDOLIN. His special style of picking, his humor and smile and his exceptional knowledge of bluegrass music as well as other styles of music made DEMPSEY 'outstanding in his field'. He was emulated my many but equalled by none. He was a SPECIAL MAN and it was such a pleasure to know and experience him in real time.
Horace Scruggs was a long-time friend of the OPRY and active musician with Dr. Bobby Jones in RIVERBEND, NEW RIVER and FLINTHILL bluegrass bands over the years. Horace and Mae Ida would often show up to pick in the "pickin' parlor" and to visit with the bands. These bands played several times each year due to popular demand and fan requests. Horace was known for having 'perfect pitch' and if you ever played an instrument near him, he was sure to keep you 'in tune'! We were all blessed to have had numerous experiences with Horace and his sweet wife. He's a 'good'un Horace is pictured here with Jeremy Leatherwood and they were "good friends". He's showing off the guitar given to him by Gibson.
Jerry Edmundson was a local support and mentor for many musicians and visited the OPRY often to play and enjoy the music. His band LINCOLN COUNTY PARTNERS played at the OPRY when this particular photo was taken. Jerry was a fine man, great musician and loyal friend to all. He came and went too quickly but we are so blessed to have had Jerry pass our way.
Steve Leatherwood picking with two long time friends and fellow pickers, Charlie Seachrist and Dan X. Padgett.