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Slim Miller
In 1940 the eldest member of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance cast - in point of service time - was Homer "Slim" Miller. Years before, when the Renfro Valley project was just a dream that everyone said would never come true, John Lair promised Slim that when the big barn was built - if it ever was - he could fiddle the first tune on the first broadcast. Slim stuck around a matter of ten years to see if he really meant it. If the listeners had their way, Slim would have probably be there to fiddle the last tune as well. Being generally recognized as "Barn Dance Fiddler Number One" didn't change Slim a bit. He was a fellow who never got "too big for his britches."

Lily May Ledford
Second on the list of Charter Members of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance crew was Lily May Ledford, of Pinch-em-Tight Hollow, Kentucky. She was later joined by her sister Rosy, the team being known as the Coon Creek Girls and then expanded that into a full band by that same name ... the first all-girl fiddle fiddle-based band of of this type on the air. Lily May learned to play on an old discarded fiddle formerly belonging to "Gran'pappy Tackett," who was a famous old-time fiddler of the Kentucky mountains, as was her father, White Ledford. She told the story of how she made her first fiddle bow from a willow switch and a generous portion of the tail of "Ole Maudie," "Gran'pappy's" white mare. Lily May played any instrument in a string band, especially the 5-string banjo. She was an expert square dancer, often surprising the audience with a few jigs while playing.

The Coon Creek Girls
You would have had to go a long way to find four prettier girls than the Coon Creek Girls. That's Lily May with the banjo, and seated with her on the timbers of the old water mill is Irene Ambergy. Opal Ambergy smiles along side the big bass fiddle and the demure miss with the violin is Bertha Ambergy. Not pictured are two more Ledford gals, Rosy and Susan, who played in the group from time to time. Their big break came in June of 1939 when they were invited to the White House to present their old songs and tunes for the entertainment for the King and Queen of England on their memorable visit to this country.

Homer and Jethro
Every so often a "natural" bobs up in radio. In 1940 the sensation at the Renfro Valley was Homer and Jethro, who drifted up from the Tennessee hills to see if there was a place on the Barn Dance for two serious-minded young men who dabbled in "Hill-Billy". John Lair decided they had that "something different" all radio programs were looking for, and much to their surprise, John even offered to pay them perform on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and on the Monday night broadcast from the old log schoolhouse. Once they appeared, many other offers started coming their way from network shows and big orchestras.

A'nt Idy Harper
A'nt Idy's complete naturalness helped to win, for her, one for her one of the biggest followings in radio - and in the shortest time on record. She and Little Clifford made their radio debut on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, and in a brief period of a few weeks were the talk of the country. A'nt Idy was loved by young and old alike, and fan mail from every state in the Union assured her that a place in the hearts of her listeners was permanent. She was a native of Missouri, but felt right at home with her neighbors and friends down at Renfro Valley.

A'nt Idy Harper, Uncle Juney
and Little Clifford

There was a time when A'nt Idy decided that Little Clifford needed the strong, ruthless hand of a superman to restrain his misguided energies, and therefore made up her mind to remarry. Out of consideration for Clifford, however, she allowed him to pick his step-pappy from a group of suitors who came in a body to the barn dance one night. Little Clifford, of course. picked the one least likely to do him bodily injury, and the result is shown here in a group picture of the happy family on their honeymoon. A'nt Idy wouldn't change her name, so the bridegroom had to oblige by changing his. Thus, Uncle Juney Harper entered the picture.

Little Clifford
Little Clifford - bless his heart - is shown here aboard the pony A'nt Idy bought for him with the proceeds derived from the sale of Uncle Juney's old jalopy. When travel was at a leisurely pace, Clifford rode the pony. When he was in a hurry, he carried it under his arm and made better time.

Judy Dell
"Purist Little Gal in the Country" was the title which exactly fit little Judy Dell, diminutive singer of sweet, old-time ballads and songs. Judy was by no means limited to this particular type number, however, but put over a peppy song with the best of 'em, while her "Swiss yodel" was the admiration and envy of all competitors. Judy had wide radio experience and was an added attraction in any theatre appearance.

Dwight Butcher
A native of Tennessee, Dwight Butcher came honestly by his soft, pleasing drawl and friendly manner. Well over six feet tall, he made an imposing appearance in the old barn loft, where he officiated each Saturday night as Master of Ceremonies for almost the entire second show. Dwight came to Renfro Valley by way of Kansas City, Missouri, and had perviously worked in Hollywood and New York City, appearing with several stage successes and taking part in various NBC programs. He had a pleasing voice, played guitar and harmonica.

The Mountain Rangers
Guy Blakeman, Jerry Beherens and Roland Gaines made up the popular group known as The Mountain Rangers. Guy, a Kentucky mountain boy, rated as one of the few really good barn dance fiddlers and sang baritone in the vocal trio. Jerry, soloist and guitarist, was from Louisiana; while Roland, a native of the Renfro Valley section chimed in with top tenor and also took many of character parts on the Monday night broadcast from the Redbud Schoolhouse.

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