John Lair - Renfro Valley Barn Dance Oral History Collection, 1994-1999
Series of thirty audio recorded interviews with performers and others who were associated with the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and other radio programs produced by John Lair, first in Cincinnati, Ohio and later in Renfro Valley, Kentucky, 1937 through much of the 1950s. Most of the interviews were conducted during the period 1994-1999, by Hutchins Library Sound Archivist, Harry Rice. Additional interviews in the collection were conducted at various earlier times by Loyal Jones, Wayne Daniels, and Reuben Powell.
John Lair’s radio programs were heavy on comedy, turn-of-the-century sentimental songs, old English ballads, and rural string band music. These programs originated from his country music tourist complex in Rockcastle County, Kentucky beginning in 1939. The two programs he is best known for are the Saturday night Renfro Valley Barn Dance and Sunday morning Renfro Valley Gatherin’. His performers were also in great demand for shows at schools, movie theaters, and county fairs. During much of the 1940s he kept a tent show on the road form May to October that ranged from northern Georgia to upper New York State and parts of New England.