WCOP Hayloft Jamboree
The General Manager of WCOP, Roy V. Whisnand wrote in a WCOP Hayloft Jamboree folio mentions that at one time they had three
daily Hayloft Jamboree radio shows, plus a Hayloft Jamboree Network that
reached all of New England. The afternoon shows was held in their main
studio and was open to audiences. On weekends, they had special shows
through out the greater Boston area.
At that time, Ray Smith had just joined their staff, who was nationally known
at the time and had recorded on the Columbia, London and Coral labels, with sales
approaching the half-million mark. Eddie Zack and his Dude Ranchers were there, too, recording
artists on Decca back then. He had a weekly NBC Network show that originated over
in Rhode Island.
The Emcee of their show back then was Nelson Bragg, the 'Merry Mayor
of Milo, Maine and Mrs. Bragg's skinniest kid' as they called him. He was the emcee
for the show from late 1951 or early 1952 through 1956. And folks would hear
Nelson proclaim at the start of each show:
"Coast to Coast, from Revere to Nantasket, the Hayloft Jamboree tonight."
The city of Revere, Massachusetts that Mr. Bragg refers to boasts the oldest public
beach in the USA. At the time the Hayloft Jamboree was on the air, both Nantasket
and Revere had very popular amusement parks with ballrooms. The live Hayloft Jamboree
show played in many venues in the greater Boston area, including:
- Symphony Hall (also home to the Boston Pops & Boston Symphony)
- The John Hancock Hall
- Boston Arena
- Back Bay Theater
- Chateu Ballrom (Nantasket, MA)
- Mechanics Hall
- King Philip Ballroom
- Nuttings on the Charles (river) (Waltham, MA)
- The Big E (Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, MA)
WCOP Hayloft Jamboree
Back Row, Left to right: Dee Rogers (partially hidden),
Lucky Shore, Lou Mondon, Eddie Fisher, Dave Miller, Ray Smith,
Jim Senter, Carl (Ray Shact) Stewart, Bobby Bobo, Bill Dillon.
Front Row, Left to right: Stuttering Steel, Chuck Young, Buzz Busby,
Elton Britt (arm outstretched, Jack Clements (in derby),
Country Al Green, Ruth Senter, the LeClair Sisters,
Joe Val, Danny Gillis, Muriel White, Gerry Lee (Shore).
Identification of cast members in photo thanks to:
Gordy Brown of the New England Country Music Hall of Fame;
Make no mistake about it - this music was hot there back then. They wrote that
the demand for Hillbilly and Western music was such that it was 25%
of all record sales in the East.
If you were spining your radio dial when you were in New England back
in the 1950's, then you looked for radio station WCOP out of Boston for
hillbilly music. Around this time, Elton Britt became a permanent
member of their show. Director of the show, you might recognize the name,
Aubrey L. Mayhew.
Besides Elton, the cast / staff included about 30 talented performers it
was reported. One was said to be Ray Smith, a former Columbia recording artist
and was said to be among New England's favorite hillbilly singers.
Carl Stuart was also a member and they said he got about 40 or 50 letters daily
because of his original vocal style.
The show also had the 'Betty Hutton of the Hillbillies', a really showperson by the
name of Muriel White.
The Hayloft also included three imports from the famed WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. Buzz Busby,
(Cowboy) Jack Clements and Scott(y) Stoneman, called The Bayou Boys. They were said to be real hillbillies with a great repertoire
and their fiddler, Scott Stoneman, won first prize in many fiddling contests.
Also a member was Jerry Devine, said to be a handsome looking boy and the owner of a
terrific voice. He played the guitar, both lead and just strumming.
Until he joined the US Marines, a young Bobby Bobo appeared on the Hayloft Jamboree long
enough to build a huge and loyal following. He was from Ohio and had his own radio show
back there they said. He could sing anything - from ballads to hot numbers.
The staff band was made up of Lucky Shore and the WCOP Ranch Gang. Each member
was said to be able to play every instrument in the 'average hillbilly band' (now
how would *you* define the average hillbilly band?). Jerry Lee and AL Grey were
two of the smoothese changers around. Lucky was also one half of the show's comedy team.
During this time, the Hayloft Jamboree Artists Bureau was established
to help book the stars throughout the New England area. They entertained
at halls, for church groups, fraternal or civic organizations. And they
offered to come to a town anytime to help them raise funds for a worthy cause
or to just supply a '...wonderful evening's entertainment.'
Rounding out the cast were Tootsie and Jackie, Dee Rogers, Dave Miller,
Jimmy and Ruth, Doug Terry and his Roving Cowboys, Lucky and Elmo the 'Radio Rangers' and
Lou Mondon. Most of the artists were said to have recorded on the Sheraton label.
The director of the show, Aubrey L. Mayhew, was associated with country and
western music for about 9 years prior to coming to the Hayloft Jamboree. He helped many
big names up the ladder of success. He was director of the artist's service bureau at WCOP,
produced the Jamboree and acted also as Artist and Repertoire (A&R) manager for the Sheraton
record label. Then he also arranged the personal appearances of the top artists around
the New England area.
Tiny Joe Simpson
Big Yank Unit
Gene LaVerne and His Lone Star Ranch Gang