35: The Grand Guitar

WOPI in Bristol, Tennessee has been broadcasting since 1929. It plays a critical role in the region and it now resides in a giant, three-story guitar. That’s only part of story. The building and station are tied to a man named Joe Morrell. Joe Morrell, a musician in Curly King and the Tennessee Hilltoppers, made Guitars for bluegrass players on The Crooked Road, or Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Emile Klein of You’re U.S. shares the story of a man who helped cement Bristol’s title of “The Birthplace of Country Music.” and whose contributions are still supporting the region’s rich musical heritage today.

WOPI in the newspaper

Photo Courtesy of WOPI

Thanks again to Emile Klein for his help with the story. You can find more about You’re U.S. on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Learn more about the history of WOPI at this link.

Joe Morrell at the Grand Guitar

“I made that photo of Joe just after he opened the Grand Guitar. He was so excited and proud of his building. That photo was distributed around the world at the time and he recieved international attention.” Photo by: Earl Carter

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Emile took some more photos of his trip:

Find the Grand Guitar on Google Maps, learn more about the Joe Morrell Scholarship Fund and some music of the Crooked Road.

Joe and Curly King (Photo from: Images of America, Bristol by George Stone and Sonya A. Haskins. Copyright 2005.)

The music in this episode was provided by Michael Staun.

Special thanks to WCQS for generously offering their studio for the recording of this piece.

This episode uses these sound effects from freesound.org: ‘Seattle Public Market Center’ by Lenguaverde

One thought on “35: The Grand Guitar

  1. This was interesting, entertaining, and a great history lesson. Emile paints a great story with a brush or a microphone. Well done friend.

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