Dakota Life: Guitars, Dance Halls & Hillbilly Music
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WNAX Missouri Valley Barn Dance

September Dakota Life: Guitars, Dance Halls & Hillbilly Music

A new season of Dakota Life returns with an exploration of country music culture in South Dakota.

Travel with us to Pierre to meet Chad Coppess. A photographer with the South Dakota Department of Tourism, Coppess also builds art guitars, including some styled after the “Singing Cowboy Guitars” by Sears Roebuck that were fashioned after instruments used by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Producer Melissa Hamersma Sievers explores the appeal of styled guitars by musicians and fans.

Boot scoot to Carlock Dance Hall near Gregory, SD, where on weekends folks cut rug aplenty to live rock, polka and country bands. Outside the humble hall, dancers can treat themselves to ice cream and soda by leaving payment, via the honor system, in a tin can. Owner Dennis Hanson, who attended the hall as a kid with his parents, recently won “Promoter of the Year” from the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame for reviving the historic music venue.

Meet one of the Midwest’s most venerable and popular touring ensembles: the Clay Creek Deaf Cowboy Band was inducted into the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Singer/guitarist Dawn Nelson is on vocals and books the band, Kirk “Sorney” Sorensen plays bass, and Tom Zoss is on drums.

Members of the Clay Creek Cowboy Band cite Yankton’s WNAX-570 AM as an early musical influence, and little wonder. The radio station boasts a long history of broadcasting country and “hillbilly” music, including the live “WNAX Missouri Valley Barn Dance Show” and the “Lawrence Welk Show.” We’ll explore the roots and transitions of the legendary station.

Tune in for an all-new episode of Dakota Life, Thursday, Sept. 5 at 8pm (7 MT) on SDPB1. Rebroadcasts Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1pm (noon MT).