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Happy Valley Neighbors
WKNE Keene, NH

About the Group

About The Group

The Happy Valley Neighbors were made up of some familiar names in country music history and worked together only a short while. Gordy Brown, Founder of the New England Country Music Historical Societ, Inc. writes that the group in 1946 was comprised of as shown in the picture at the top of page, left to right, Basfhul George Workman on Hawaiian steel guitar; Ramona Riggins on fiddle (who would become the future Mrs. Grandpa Jones); Sam Workman on bass and also was the group's master of ceremonies; and, Jane Workman on guitar.

Dusty Cal Witham wrote in his National Hillbilly News column that the Happy Valley Neighbors were being heard over WKNE in Keene, New Hampshire twice a day at 1:30pm and 4:45pm.

For a time, Ramona worked with Bradley Kincaid's troupe over radio station WSM in Nashville as well. Juanita Milligan wrote in her 1947 column, "...this little gal is very versatile, playing mandolin, fiddle or guitar...and she sings also. What more could you ask for ... and get!"

Jane and Ramona were also a fine harmony duo when this group performed. As most groups did in that era, the vocals would alternate to solos, trios, duets or even quartets along with a touch of comedy. The acts would try to provide an all-around show for their audiences.

Ramona later moved to WRVA. At one point, she met up with Grandpa Jones and cupid played his part. Gordy Brown notes that in Grandpa Jones' autobiography, Grandpa had gotten an invitation to audition for the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He went to New Hampshire and asked Ramona if she would come to Nashville with him if he was accepted to be a member of the Opry. He was. He debuted on the Opry on March 16, 1946. She did. They were married on October 14, 1946. When Grandpa died in 1996, they had been together in marriage and on the Opry for nearly 50 years.

Ramona wrote Gordy in September of 2000 that she was with the Happy Valley Neighbors for just a few months and had left the group in the spring of 1946. This coincides with Grandpa's debut on the Opry.

The Workmans became associated with the famed Old Dominion Barn Dance that aired over WRVA.

Timeline & Trivia Notes

Group Members:

  • Sam Workman, bass and emcee
  • Jane Workman, guitar
  • Bashful George Workman, Hawaiian steel guitar
  • Ramona Riggins, fiddle

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Gordon (Gordy) Brown, founder of the New England Country Music Historical Society, Inc. for provideing us with identification of the group members as well as additional information about the group and a copy of Ramona (Riggins) Jones' letter to Gordon in September of 2000.
  • The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; June 1946; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co.; New York, NY
  • The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder; October 1946; Mountain Broadcast Pub. Co.; New York, NY
  • National Hillbilly News; July 1946; Poster Show Print Co.; Huntington, WV
  • National Hillbilly News; August 1946; Poster Show Print Co.; Huntington, WV