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Carolina Stories

Juke Joints and Honky Tonk Legends



Their Gaillard Auditoriums are large, non-descript rooms with wooden tables, metal chairs, and a bar. Their Bi-Lo Center ushers and doormen are friends and family who double as roadies. Yet, for the love of the music, the performers and fans leave their 9 to 5 jobs to venture down the back roads of small southern communities to remote watering holes for down home blues, country and western, and bluegrass entertainment. This program is an excursion into a larger-than-life culture with roots that trace back to traditional African and folk music. It explores this nonconformist genre and the people who seek to preserve it.


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From the famed Chitlin’ Circuit to Tobacco Roads to the bluegrass Kerosene Circuit, viewers will tap into the stories of local artists such as blues master Drink Small, Bill Wells, owner of Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor in West Columbia, and honky tonk’s resident pied piper Hick'ry Hawkins. Conversations with nationally known artists, including Spartanburg native Aaron Tippen and R & B icon Millie Jackson, punctuate the no-holds-barred jaunt through music history. Traveling throughout South Carolina and meeting the musicians and fans that keep this genre alive was exhilarating," said Ricky Taylor, the show’s producer. "Showcasing the history and the artists who have made such significant contributions to the musical landscape is what this project was all about. I’m glad we’re able to share these experiences with our viewers." Throughout the broadcast, ETV cameras provide an up close and personal glimpse back in time from several popular South Carolina nightspots including: historic Skyline Club in West Columbia blues/soul nightclub, Mac’s On Main in Columbia The Bowery at Myrtle Beach, the Palmetto State’s oldest honky tonk, where the award-winning country band Alabama got its start.


Behind the Scenes

Juke Joints and Honky Tonk Legends - Behind the Scenes Interview with Ricky Taylor, the producer and director of Juke Joints and Honky Tonk Legends What was the inspiration behind making this program and its topic? I have always been intrigue by the origins of southern music and its influences on race and culture in the U.S. If you could describe the production in one sentence what would it be? The project is a brief expose on the culture and characters of the “back road” bars and clubs of the South. What is the message that you want viewers to take away from the program? One message that could be taken from this is the important role that music plays in bringing diverse groups together. What was the most difficult part of making the production? Rounding up and scheduling the artists was the most difficult task. Many of them are on the road touring much of the year and lead transient lifestyles.. Because of a budget, were there any special tricks used to make the most out of a dollar without decreasing the quality of production? To save money I sought out music festivals in order to interview as many artists as possible in one location. Were there any unforeseen obstacles (weather, actors, etc) that hindered production? Many of the legendary “Juke Joints” are now gone so finding small venues that give you a true sense of the culture was difficult. Is there a defining scene and what is its significance? One defining statement was made by Hick’ry Hawkins who commented on the need to and importance of creating music to the very existence and sanity of an artist. Has making the program given you a new appreciation for anything? This program has given me a greater appreciation for southern music (blues, folk, bluegrass, soul) as a whole. Was there extensive research done to ensure historical accuracy or was there more room for artistry? The project was based more on the experiences of the artists. What type of feedback has this program received? Thus far the program has received favorable comments.

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