Bluegrass Experience and Hindsight Bluegrass bassist Julie Brown is the new host for Eastern North Carolina. Saturday Night Bluegrass on FM stations WLHC in Sanford and WLQC Life 103.1 in Sharpsburg. Broadcasting from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET each Saturday night, Brown stepped in to continue the radio show’s 16-year legacy. Brown’s longtime host and friend, Tommy Edwards, a talented bluegrass musician, songwriter and historian from Siler City, North Carolina, died on May 22, 2021. After replaying classic Edwards shows during the weekends for nearly a year, Brown was approached to host the show. Hesitantly, she worked as a guest host, but after a bit of persuasion, she recently agreed to take on the weekly two-hour position permanently.
Wife of famous banjo picker, Stan Brown, Julie recalled her relationship with her radio host predecessor. “I first met Tommy around 1996. Stan and I used to date and often met Tommy and his wife, Cindy. We talked about music and became good friends, but we never chose together. Then one Thursday, Tommy wanted me to fill in and play bass that weekend with his band, The Bluegrass Experience. I was okay with it, but I had never met any of the other guys in his band. By the end of the night, I felt like I had known them forever. After that gig, I was called upon to play bass several times.
Originally from Angier, Julie grew up attending bluegrass festivals. The banjo became his first bluegrass instrument.
“I got back into bluegrass straight out of college when Dad was learning the banjo. I knew the music so I thought I could help him. It made me want to play. I played in a band with Stan’s dad, Odell, for several years before I met Stan. His father is the first to have interested me in the bass.
In 1998, Julie switched to bass when she married Stan.
“We didn’t need two banjo players in the house, and he was way better than me, so the bass became my main instrument.”
Two years later, her husband became a full-time member of the Bluegrass Experience when Edwards banjo player Donald Beane died. Stan has remained in this position ever since. Julie became the band’s bassist after their bassist, Snuffy Smith, retired following Edwards’ death. So, for Julie, playing music came first, working as a disc jockey came much later.
“I remember when Tommy took the radio job (for WLHC/WLQC). We were on our way to a concert when he told us about it. It never crossed my mind to do such a thing! The day he died, I still hadn’t thought about it.
But Julie had the qualifications to be a radio personality.
“I like to talk and I’ve never met a stranger. After Tommy passed away, (the Hometown Festival radio host) Buddy Michaels called me and asked me to take over the show.
After interviewing friends who were totally on board with her idea, she agreed to be the guest host. Saturday Night Bluegrass to test the waters.
“I thought Julie would do a great job,” Michaels said. “She knows what she’s talking about. I had to push her, but now the insect has bitten her. She is unstoppable. She plans her shows.
Julie enjoyed the challenge. “After two months, I became permanent. I select all the music.
The new DJ then had an epiphany.
“I realized that I had never learned the titles of many songs! I know the first line, the melody or the subject, but not the appropriate title. I could tell you the color of the CD and the number of the song on the album, but I didn’t know the title of the CD or the song. This made it difficult to find the songs I was looking to play on the show! »
She also had to familiarize herself with some of the radio station technology.
“At first I had to learn what was in their database and how to dig into it all. I added a lot of music. I love choosing my own playlist.
A talented musician herself, Julie’s tastes for bluegrass tunes are eclectic.
“I like to play traditional songs, but I like new songs a lot and I also think outside the box. I keep it mixed.
Julie also involves the bluegrass music community in her weekly shows, interviewing key players such as Tim Stafford, announcing local shows and playing tunes from regional artists, including the beloved show’s namesake, Tommy. Edwards. He would be happy with his format.
Saturday Night Bluegrass can be heard on WLHC (and WLQC) 103.1 FM every Saturday, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (ET). You can also listen online via live streaming.