The Legendary Briarhoppers!

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT's Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutch said "Yes," which led to the birth of the Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutch, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, "Look at that briarhopper!" At that moment, Crutch found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington, NC. Since that time, The Briarhoppers' fans are/were Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding new musicians to those who left the station or who died. Today, Tom Warlick, Alana Flowers, Hannah Flowers, Dillon Flowers, Donnie Little, and Little Ellie Flowers keep the band alive, with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs, and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume! Enjoy this site and learn about the Briarhoppers' storied past and the bright future that is ahead. Don't turn that dial...Hit's Briarhopper Time!


MERLEFEST!

 
The Legendary Briarhoppers will perform at North America's premier music festival, Merlefest!

Tentatively, the band will play three shows on April 26, 2014, at the festival which is located on the campus of Wilkes Community College, North Wilkesboro, NC. 

2014 will be the band's 80th year in entertainment and we are proud to be a part of this super-duper festival!

The Briarhoppers was a favorite band of Doc Watson, who started Merlefest in memory of his son, Merle Eddy Watson.  When interviewed for the book, "The WBT Briarhoppers:  Eight Decades of a Bluegrass Band Made For Radio (McFarland, publishers)," Doc Watson said the following:

  • "When I was at the NC School of the Blind, a friend of mine snuck in a radio and we would listen to the Briarhoppers on WBT...that and the sound of the train passing by made the day better."

  • "When I was a kid, The Briarhoppers were performing in Boone, NC.  I sat on the sidewalk and played for money.  I heard a quarter hit my can.  My friend next to me said, 'Do you know who put that quarter in?  Whitey Grant of The Briarhoppers.'  Later on in the 1980s, I was playing at a festival and The Briarhoppers was there.  I had someone get Whitey and have him come to the trailer where I was.  When Whitey came in, I pulled out that same quarter and said, 'Remember this?  I bet you want this quarter now!"  Whitey said 'I think we made a fine investment in your career!'"


The Briarhopper Band is happy and honored to have been invited to Doc's country.


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