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Garden State Jamboree
WATV (TV)
Newark, NJ

Garden State Jamboree

Back in the mid 1950s, probably 1954/1955, even Newark, New Jersey hosted a hillbilly show. It was on from 9:15pm to 10:00pm each Saturday night on WATV out of Newark. It became one of the East Coast's favorite and outstanding programs of its type or so they wrote then.

At the time the article was written in Cowboy Songs (date unknown for now) it was mentioned that it had been on the air for just over a year or so. It was awarded the New Jersey State Blue Ribbon Award by the New Jersey State Fair Committee (the oldest state fair in the nation). The award went to the outstanding radio and TV programs back than who 'afforded the best all-around information, entertainment and news to the public'.

The Garden State Jamboree was jointly produced and directed at that time by Smokey Warren and Don Luftig. The master of ceremonies for the show was the "Eastern King of Western Swing" himself - Shorty Warren. He also got himself into some of the bits with "The Toothless Twins".

As with many jamboree shows back then, part of the attraction for the performers was being able to do personal appearances and here it was no exception. The artists of the Garden State Jamboree had many bookings in night clubs, private organizations and arenas and was said to have a 'full' calendar in 1956.

Cowboy Songs wrote that the main reason for the popularity of the Garden State Jamboree was that '...the artists on that show do their very best at each and every show.' In fact, to back up the supposed PR writing you might think that statement is, the article also states that they were voted the top show in a popularity poll by one of the larger stations in New Jersey at the time.

The Garden State Jamboree had big name Country/Hillbilly guests on their show. Some of the regulars on the show at that time were:

  • Elton Britt, RCA Victor recording star
  • Whitey Carson
  • Coy McDaniels
  • Rusty Starr and his Ramblers
  • Shorty and Smoky Warren and their Western Rangers
  • Billy Willow
  • Mickey Evans
  • Sunshine Trio
  • Polka Dots
  • The Toothless Twins (comedy duo - Cy and Smokey)


Coy McDaniel


Whitey Carson


Rusty Starr and His Ramblers


Billy Willow


Iris Leigh


The Toothless Twins


Smokey and Shorty Warren