In Louisiana Hayride - Radio And Roots Music Along The Red River, Tracey E.W. Laird documents the history of the popular radio station, exploring the role that northwestern Louisiana played in thedevelopment of both country music and rock and roll. This interdisciplinary study that combines original ethnomusicology research with social and oral history.
On a Saturday night in 1948, Hank Williams stepped onto thestage of the Louisiana Hayride and sang 'Lovesick Blues.' Up to that point, Williams's yodeling style had been pigeon-holed as hillbilly music, cutting him off from the mainstream of popular music. Taking a chance on thisuntriedartist, the Hayride—a radio 'barn dance' or country music variety show like the Grand Ole Opry—not only launched Williams's career, but went on to launch the careers of well-known performers such as Jim Reeves, Webb Pierce,Kitty Wells, Johnny Cash, and Slim Whitman.
Broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana, the local station KWKH's 50,000-watt signal reached listeners in over 28 states and lured them to packed performances of the Hayride's roadshow. By tracing the dynamic history of the Hayride and its sponsoring station, ethnomusicologist Tracey Laird reveals the critical role that this part of northwestern Louisiana played in the development of both countrymusic and rock and roll. Delving into the past of this Red River city, she probes the vibrant historical, cultural, and social backdrop for its dynamic musical scene. Sitting between the Old South and the West, this one-timefrontier town provided an ideal setting for the cross-fertilization of musical styles. The scene was shaped by the region's easy mobility, the presence of a legal 'red-light' district from 1903-17, and musical interchanges betweenblacks and whites, who lived in close proximity and in nearly equal numbers. The region nurtured such varied talents as Huddie Ledbetter, the 'king of the twelve-string guitar,' and Jimmie Davis, the two term 'singing governor' of