Rare Stanley Brothers Radio Transcription—You Can Help Save It!

Yesterday, this note arrived from audio engineer Frank Cunningham:

Hi Lynn, your listeners might find this interesting:

Photo copyright © The Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Bristol, VA/Tenn. (January 10, 2018) – A rare transcription disc containing a live broadcast performance of The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys on the former WCYB Radio Farm and Fun Time show has been listed among the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. Over time, the degradation of the fragile, lacquer disc recording has made it unplayable and its content unaccessible. A public vote will determine if the rare recording can be restored through grant funds from VAM, so the museum is asking for your help in securing enough votes to help them win $5,000 to preserve this valuable piece of American music history.

Frank continues:
Anyone who wants to vote, and one vote per day per device is permitted, may do so until January 24th, through this link:


I am not a disinterested party here because if the disk wins the vote, it is likely that I would do the digitization using the IRENE system at Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover. It cannot be “restored” but IRENE can play it optically.
I’ve seen photos of the disk. Both sides are partially delaminated, but it ain’t hopeless yet. Most of the grooves are intact and the biggest loose chunks can be pushed back into line closely enough that the rest can be done in software. There are 9 tracks altogether on two sides, the longest being ~3min. Only the music was recorded—this is not an “air-check” of the whole show.

(& Hoppy New Year)


Today is the 17th, so there is just one week until the 24th.  So go HERE and vote by typing in your email address; you’ll get a confirmation email, with a link that will record your vote.
Ralph and Carter Stanley, when they were first starting out in the late 1940s, got a coveted slot to perform live on WCYB’s mid-day ‘Farm and Fun Time’ program.  It had a great deal to do with their success, enabling them to get bookings in the towns where WCYB’s Bristol-based signal reached.
Rebel Records released an album of two complete 1949 Stanley Brothers ‘The Farm and Fun Time’ shows called Stanley Brothers on WCYB Bristol in 1988, so we do have some documentation of that period.  The image above shows four tracks on the currently unplayable transcription are not on that album.  I’ll update when I hear about the other side.
The transcription disc is at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.  Their page about the transcription is HERE. You can cast your vote on that page as well.  /CL
UPDATE 18Jan: Here are closeups of the two labels.  Doesn’t look like any of these are on the Rebel album.  Note on S2 someone has noted ‘Trio’, ‘Quartet’, ‘pee wee’ (that would be Pee Wee Lambert, who played mandolin and often sang Monroe-style leads):
2017.4.1 Side A label - from donor_sm

From the Birthplace of Country Music Museum collection
Donated by Glen Harlow via Dean Casey
Photo by Glen Harlow

2017.4.1 Side B label - from donor_sm

From the Birthplace of Country Music Museum collection
Donated by Glen Harlow via Dean Casey
Photo by Glen Harlow

UPDATE 11Feb18: Steve Bartlett on the Paper and Pen page reports:

Re: The voting for a grant to restore the Stanley Brothers Radio transcription . This item received the most votes and a $5,000 grant for the project.

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