Fish played a Fender “Stratocaster” with a big amplifier. It took up the back seat.
I played an upright bass, also known as a contra-bass, double bass, bass fiddle, stand-up bass and other names tagged by men who tried to play and haul them around.
The six-foot-tall instrument was not designed to fit inside a Bug, but we managed. The bottom went over Fish’s equipment and rested on the back of the rear seat with the neck between our seats and the top nearly touching the windshield.
People stood by in awe watching us load and unload that stuff.
We later traveled in the same car after I switched to drums.
It was an honor to stand on a stage with Fish. He is the most naturally talented musician I have ever known.
On some rides we tuned in the Grand Ole Opry from WSM in Nashville.
The Opry began in the 1920s and still goes strong.
The Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church” of country music, was built by a riverboat captain to benefit a Georgia evangelist.
Capt. Tom Ryman was an ardent supporter of the Rev. Charles P. Jones of Cartersville, Ga., and built the “Tabernacle” for Jones’ itinerant revival meetings.
There were other live country music shows across the country.
Chicago isn’t a “hotbed” of country music, but the “National Barn Dance” on WLS entertained locals who moved there for jobs in meat-packing and other industries.
The station was owned by Sears, thus the call sign: “World’s Largest Store.”
“The Midwestern Hayride” on WLW Cincinnati was heard from New York to Florida and out to Colorado, most of middle America.
Many country music stars began on “The Louisiana Hayride” on KWKH.
The show ran from 1948-60 in the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
“The Big D Jamboree” began as “The Lone Star Barn Dance” on KRLD in Dallas, Texas.
Springfield, up the road from Branson, Mo., was home of the “Ozark Jubilee.” It was hosted by Pat Boone's father-in-law, Red Foley, and became a network television show.
Many performers started in Springfield: Porter Wagoner, Wanda Jackson, Jean Shepard, Sony James, Webb Pierce, Leroy Van Dyke and others.
In the Appalachian mountain area, “The WWVA Jamboree” came from the Capitol Theater in Wheeling, W.V. After a number of fits and starts, it appears to be back on the air.
We were going to head to Nashville one day, Fish and I, to sit in the Ryman Auditorium, walk down the alley to “Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge” to see who was watering down a few notes from their performance.
We haven’t made that trip.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.