On episode 4 of the WV Podcast, our famous West Virginian Segment is about country star Little Jimmy Dickens, and we have an interview with Jessie Walker who attended the special release event of Blenko Glass Company’s limited edition art glass for West Virginia’s 152nd birthday. Our sponsor is Brickhouse Cardio Club in Parkersburg, WV.
The theme music for the WV Podcast was composed and performed by Tonya Kouns Holbrook
Check out the Facebook group, All of us West Virginians. The owner is Larry Belcher. He curates all kinds of resources and images for you to use and browse. The images are organized by county. He also recently set up an archive for The WV Podcast, and we really appreciate the opportunity to share on this most excellent group. We are looking forward to featuring it and Larry on Episode 5 of The WV Podcast. The link to the group:
Famous West Virginian Little Jimmy Dickens…
**Born James Cecil Dickens on December 19, 1920 in Bolt, WV. Jimmy got his early radio experience on local radio station WJLS in Beckley, WV, with performers such as Mel Steele, Molly O’Day and Jonnie Bailes. Through out the 1940’s Dickens hosted his own radio programs in Fairmont, WV; Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Topeka and Saginaw, Michigan. Once Roy Acuff heard Little Jimmy 1947, he brought him to the attention of both Grand Ole Opry officials and Art Satherley at Columbia Records. After guest appearances on the Opry, Dickens signed with Columbia on September 16, 1948 and joined the Opry shortly thereafter. He achieved rapid success in the studio and on the Opry stage.
Hank Williams gave Dickens the nickname ‘Tater’ from Dickens’ hit ‘Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait’.
Little Jimmy Dickens not only influenced country music’s sound with his unique and specific tone from guitars, he also had an impact on its fashion sense when he became the first person on the Opry to wear a suit designed by Los Angles based tailor, Nudie Cohn. From the early 1950’s, Cohn adorned some of Dickens’ suits with rhinestones and Dickens became the first Opry star to glitter.
Over the years, Dickens had many hit songs, but his biggest hit came in 1965 with the new novelty song, ‘may the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose’, which peaked at #1 and went on to #15 on the pop listings. Thereafter, Dickens placed singles for Columbia regularly on the charts until 1972.
Later in Dickens’ career, he was among the Opry’s best known and best loved performers and he served as an ambassador for the show, hosting segments, holding court in his dressing room, and sometimes inducting new members into the Opry family.
Little Jimmy became best friend to fellow West Virginian and contemporary country star Brad Paisley, and he often appeared in Paisley’s videos and in comedic cameos during the Paisley hosted CMA Awards and recording comedy tracks on Paisley’s albums as a member of the ‘Kung-Pao Buckaroos’, with George Jones, Bill Anderson and others.
Sadly, we lost this wonderful West Virginia native and country music powerhouse on January 2, 2015. Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM air personality, Eddie Stubbs wrote of ‘the little man’s outsized contributions, ‘Jimmy Dickens is, without a doubt, one of the greatest entertainers, showmen, masters of ceremonies, goodwill ambassadors, troupers, singers of novelty tunes, and interpreters of country ballads that the country music industry has ever known.’**
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Stop by the Brickhouse Cardio Club today at:
2311 Ohio Avenue, Unit B, Parkersburg, WV
Blenko Glass has been a family owned and operated company since 1893. They have been located in Milton, WV since 1921.
Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen, and imaginative designs have made Blenko famous in the time-honored craft of hand-blown glass. In a world of ever increasing automation, Blenko Glass prides themselves in paying particular attention to the forms and designs of their hand crafted products. We all need, now more than ever, hand-made possessions that are unique and inspiring.
Since 1980, Blenko Glass has been part of West Virginia’s history by making a special piece of art glass for each of the state’s birthdays on June 20th. These pieces have always been awe inspiring. In 2015, there were 152 pieces made, one for each year of the state’s existence. It is a vase entitled, “Autumn Leaves”, designed and signed by famous glass artist, Arlon Byliss. The original price was $152, but by the next day, a piece sold on Ebay for almost twice that amount.
Some people started camping out on Tuesday to make sure they were in line for the Saturday release of the historic art glass.
My friend Jessie Walker didn’t camp out, but he got there early in the morning of the event to obtain one for his mother, who is a collector. I really appreciate Jessie letting me record the conversation I had with him afterwards.
Jessie also mentioned he saw New Blenko Glass plant manager Ron Hinkle who has his own glass making operation in Buckhannon, WV. You can hear the story about Ron, and find links to videos of his operation in the WV Podcast Episode 1.
Our featured videos today about about the Blenko Glass operations. Access these videos by looking at the show notes for Episode 4 of the WV Podcast.
WV Living article on Arlon Bayliss
Some special “Thanks” are in order for Dana McDonald who gave us the use of a very nice studio condenser microphone, and Dana Tucker who donated a mixing console that will enable us to capture telephone interviews of some West Virginia natives who now live out of state. Keep listening to the WV Podcast for more stories of home.
Dana Tucker also interviewed Dee for his own podcast, Podcasters Blog about the complications that can occur when trying to record an internet radio show with Sjogren’s Syndrome and other autoimmune disorders. Check out the show notes for links on episode 4 of the WV Podcast.
Interview with Dee Holbrook