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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Rare Stanley Brothers live recording among Virginia's most endangered

January 08, 2018

BRO, Tenn./VA — 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 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 help in securing enough votes to help them win $5,000 to preserve this valuable piece of American music history.

"We are so excited that this Farm and Fun Time radio transcription disc from our museum collection has been chosen as one of the Virginia Association of Museum's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts," says Rene Rodgers, Head Curator of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. "This object's vulnerable condition means that its content is in real danger of being lost forever. This honor from the VAM gives us the chance to receive much-needed funds to save an important piece of American music and radio history. Even better, preserving it means that we will be able to make this recording accessible to others-it's not every day that you get a chance to hear live Clinch Mountain Boys tracks that have likely not been heard in over 60 years."

The fact that an original live recording of the Clinch Mountain Boys from Farm and Fun Time still exists is a rarity, because discs used to record radio broadcasts in the mid-20th century are highly unstable. Back then, these recordings were made on laquer discs with an aluminum core. Over time, the lacquer flakes off and the disc can no longer be played with a stylus. The transcription disc was donated to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in early 2017 by local musician and WZAP Christian radio program director Glen Harlow.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Blandford Rees Foundation, the VAM's renowned program will for the first time be able to provide conservation awards totaling nearly $19,000 to the honorees, which will be granted by the Selection Committee or by outcome of an online public voting competition. The pubic is invited to help bestow $9,000 of these conservation awards by voting for their favorite endangered artifact. The two artifacts garnering the most votes will be recognized as the People's Choice Awards and will receive $5,000 and $4,000 respectfully to conserve their artifacts and care for its continued preservation.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to take our program to the next level during our milestone 50th Anniversary year and further our mission of helping the museum community succeed," says Jennifer Thomas, VAM's Executive Director. "This year's selected artifacts exemplify the scope and impact of history found across the Commonwealth of Virginia. From an excavated 18th-century merchant ship to a rare radio recording by Ralph and Carter Stanley, some items shed light on the resilience and grace of the human spirit, while others remind us that issues such as women's rights and voter disenfranchisement are not new. In whole, the artifacts bring history to life. And we are proud that our Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program showcases the important work that collecting institutions undertake every day to care for our collective treasures."

Ten unique artifacts from across the state and spanning Virginia's extensive history from the 1700s to the 20th century were chosen following a thorough review process by an independent selection committee of collections professionals from partner organizations Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, Virginia Conservation Association, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources. To view the entire list of artifacts and to vote in the People's Choice Awards, please visit Voting starts on Jan. 15 and ends Jan. 24 at midnight.

The People's Choice Awards recipients and remaining honorees will be recognized during a special reception at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, on Feb. 21, at 5:30 p.m. following Virginia Museums Advocacy Day at the General Assembly. They will additionally be acknowledged at VAM's Statewide Annual Conference on March 12, during an awards luncheon to be held at the Hilton Norfolk The Main in Norfolk, Virginia.