Founded in Ashland City, Tennessee, USA, the Pickard Family Band became a very popular act. Founder of the band was Obed ‘Dad’ Pickard (b. Obediah Pickard, 22 July 1874, Tennessee, USA, d. 24 September 1954, USA), whose father was a respected citizen and founder of the local bank. Pickard and his wife, Leila, had five children. Playing harmonica, Jew’s harp and singing, Pickard formed the family band in the mid-20s. The band’s repertoire was centred on bluegrass music and very soon they linked up with George D. Hay of Nashville, Tennessee, for the National Barn Dance. This show evolved into the Grand Ole Opry although Obed Pickard was the only family member to appear at the show. The band toured extensively through the later part of the decade. Moving beyond the expected areas for their kind of music, they appeared in northern cities, including Chicago. In a June 1929 issue of The Washington Post there appeared an announcement of a ceremony to dedicate the Great Northern Railway’s latest train, the ‘Empire Builder’. The train, which was scheduled to depart Chicago the following day, was named for entrepreneur and railroad man James J. Hill. Among those billed to perform on this auspicious occasion, which was to be broadcast, was Obed Pickard, singing railroad songs of the past.
Apart from touring, radio and records, the Pickard Family also appeared in some Western films, including Rawhide Rangers (1941) and the short, Spade Cooley And His Orchestra (1949). The Pickards retained their popularity through numerous changes in public taste and in the 50s had their own television show. The repertoire of Obed Pickard and the family band included songs such as the plaintive ‘Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie’, ‘Sally Goodin’, ‘The Old Gray Horse’ and ‘That’s My Rabbit, My Dog Caught It’. The family home, in Ashland City, Kentucky, still stands and after a long spell as a funeral parlour is now run as the Three Sisters Tea Room and Gifts.