Every Friday morning at 7:00 AM you can tune in to WKBC 800 on your AM dial or go on down to Main Street Music and Loan for the weekly Hometown Opry. On a given Friday, you might see Rhonda Vincent, The Kruger Brothers, Doc Watson or The Local Boys, Wayne Henderson. or the Snyder Family. On other mornings your likely to hear a pick-up band of local pickers or one brought in from almost anywhere in western North Carolina. Regardless of the band on the small stage, you'll find Main Street Music's owner Mike Palmer alternating between being genial host, videographer, and taking care of his pawn business. Radio host for the next two hours will be Steve Handy, the regular morning voice of WKBC and Ed (Edgar Alan or Sherlock) Racey will be adding their own brand of patter, corn pone humor, and wacky drawings.
While Main Street Music & Loan surely is a pawn shop where you can get a loan against your jewelry, guns, tools, or instruments, it also a fine instrument shop selling high end guitars and banjos as well as mid- and low-priced ones. It has an excellent choice of Martin acoustic guitars as well as a good selection of electric guitars, sound equipment, and more. It's also a place where local musicians hang out and ones on their way through town stop in to chat, and maybe trade an instrument. Mike Palmer, himself, as well as Rick on his staff are accomplished and experienced musicians. While we don't usually hang out at pawn shops, we always feel comfortable and welcome here.
The audience for the Hometown Opry is composed of an interesting mix of local regulars, periodic out-of-town visitor, and tourists. All are made welcome in the stage area, which seats about 100 people. The room provides excellent sound for the visiting bands, and each Friday's show lasts two hours. The audience doesn't get to hear most of the commercials, except those delivered by Steve Handy or have to sit through the news. Friday's band was pretty much a pick-up jam band from Asheville, NC calling themselves Iron Station. Now, make no mistake, a pick-up jam band from Asheville ain't your ordinary field jamming bunch, and these guys were good.
Everyone at the Hometown Opry is there to have a good time, and they do. The audience gets in on the fun, with newcomers and visitors getting special attention. Steve Handy, as emcee is lively and amusing, keeping the show moving along. Local people drop by to announce special events on the air. On this morning, Dr. T.K. Bryant came in to announce his third annual pre-memorial, claiming he wanted to his memorial while he was alive. It will be held in the Traditional Tent on the Merlefest grounds.
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