Bev King has operated Country Heritage Music Store as a walk-in store in Clarksville, Arkansas, since Sept., 1998. The current building is the third location for the business.
Bev's first instrument was a toy ukulele which she got when she was 5 years old. When she was 10, she got her first full size guitar, a Harmony arch top with such high strings that she had to use 3 fingers to fret a single note on the bass strings.
When she was 12, she got a record player for Christmas, and the first record she bought was a Roy Acuff album. She was captivated by an instrument featured on "The Great Speckled Bird" in particular, on that LP, and set out to find out what that instrument was. After finding out it was a Dobro, she spent another couple of years trying to locate one. She finally got her first Dobro in May, 1967 and recorded her first Dobro instrumental LP record in April, 1971, becoming the first and only female Dobroist to record an all Dobro instrumental album on vinyl record. This was followed by 9 more LPs, including two instrumental albums with Bashful Brother Oswald, whose picking on Roy Acuff's recordings is what got her interested in the instrument.
Seeing a need for instructional material on the instrument, she wrote "Country and Bluegrass Dobro", a beginner's course, in 1974, followed by two books of Dobro tablatures. For a time, these were the only books on the market for this style of Dobro music. In 1974, she began publishing "The Dobro Nut", a magazine for Dobro pickers and fans, which was re-named "Resophonic Echoes" in 1976, and finally, "Country Heritage" in 1982, when it was expanded to also include traditional country music in general.
Her first public performance was on Alex Campbell's radio show, broadcast from the studio at Campbell's Corner in Oxford, PA, in 1970. The following year, she first performed on stage with Ola Belle (Reed) and Alex and the New River Boys at Sunset Park in West Grove, PA.
After moving to Madill, Oklahoma in 1975, she began working with Joe Knight in 1979. Joe had worked as a studio musician at Jim Beck's studio in Dallas, Texas, in the early '50s, and played on the earliest hit records by Lefty Frizzell and Marty Robbins, as well as many other well known artists who recorded for Columbia, Decca, and other major labels. Joe's natural singing style was similar to that of Marty Robbins.
Their first project together was a live radio show over the local station, KMAD, and the station owner, Sky Corbin, named it "The Bev & Joe Show". They began performing at bluegrass festivals (although their style was traditional country) and local country shows. In the early '80s, they did several tours through Texas and Oklahoma with Jerry Clower, "the Mouth of the South", and Little Roy Wiggins, who gave Eddy Arnold his signature sound on the non-pedal steel guitar.
In 1986, they recorded the two albums with Brother Oswald, and with Oswald, appeared on Hairl Hensley's Friday Night Opry Warmup Show broadcast live over WSM. They also made two appearances on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. In 1988, they joined Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys on stage for a show at Rebel Park near Many, Louisiana.
In 1990, they once more began doing a radio show over KMAD, this time playing traditional country records. Listeners called in so many requests, they had to limit requests to the final 2 hours of the 4 hour show.
In 1994, Bev relocated to Clarksville, Arkansas. Joe Knight passed away in 2005.
Bev's first store was a remodeled house on West Main Street in Clarksville. It was mainly intended as a part time venture; a place for mail order customers to visit...but since so few people are familiar with resonator guitars, she stocked other acoustic instruments, and accessories. Before long, the store outgrew the building and it was moved just down the street in 2001. But it again outgrew the building, and in Feb. 2007, Country Heritage Music moved to its present location at 134 W. Main Street, about a mile from the 2nd location, in downtown Clarksville, a block east of the Court House.
From 1919 until 1986, this building had been a car dealership. Before that, the east part of the building, which is now the theater area, had been a livery stable; hence the name, Country Heritage Music Barn. At one time, there was a blacksmith shop in the northeast corner; the square hole in the wall where the forge pipe went out is still visible. There had also been a well in that area.
The part which is now the music store was built in 1925. It was a showroom for several car dealers over the years, and the theater area was the service department. In later years, the building was used by several businesses, in recent years having been a furniture store.
Most of Bev's performing these days is at Country Heritage Music Barn. Check our "Events" page for upcoming shows.