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Boone County Jamboree
Cncinnati, OH
Year Started:  1938
Date Started:  September 16, 1938

WLW Boone County Jamboree

The first mention of the Boone County Jamboree was by Paul Kennedy in his column in The Cincinnati Post on Thursday, September 15, 1938. He told readers, "All of which reminds us, the chief claim to fame for WLW's "Boone County Jamboree" Friday night seems to be it will be a hillbilly show without being a hillbilly show...whatever that means."

WLW Boone County Jamboree Banner On the night of the first show, Mr. Kennedy tells readers after getting a haircut earlier in the day, he went home early to have dinner before going to Emery Auditorium to take in WLW's Boone County Jamboree. He wrote: "...a string mixture of near-hoedown hillbilly entertainment and straight musical comedy." The first show was on a Friday night. On Saturday evening, WLW broadcast the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, the National Barn Dance and Plantation Party.

While the show was broadcast over WLW, a station in Cincinnati, Boone County is actually the northernmost county in Kentucky.

The inaugural program on Friday night, September 16, 1938 was attended by a reporter from the Cincinnati Equirer writing in a "Movie Report Card" column. Rather than paraphrase what Fred Breyer wrote, let us instead read what he wrote back then:

"With Charley Wayne as master of ceremonies and a large, friendly and enthusiastic crowd to spur them on, the varied groups of performers making up the cast of the Boone County Jamboree gave an ample and interesting evening of entertainment at the Emery last night. The featured "Hoosier Hot Shots" furnish som dizzy music and catchy songs. Their most prominent (and noisiest) musical instrument is washboard with auto horn and whistle attachments.

Pa and Ma McCormick and the Brown County Revelers, Hugh Cross and his palls with Mary Ann, The Plainsmen, harmonizers, Barton Rees Pogue, the Hoosier Poet; The Drifting Pioneers with Judy Dell, the Devore Sisters, Chuck Woods and his Southern Stars, Harry Adams, the guitar specialist, and the Boone County Choir are the other radio favorites who round out the program.

Hillbilly music, sentimental songs of a generation ago, assorted yodeling, barnyard imitations, a musical saw, and some barefooted comedians with poorly fitting trousers add to the general air of festive merriment. The audience, obviously composed of radio listeners, came out to see their favorites in person and were more than satisfied with what they saw."

Promo Ad - Boone County Jamboree - Emery Auditorium - Cincinnati, OH - Helen Diller - Hugh Cross - Plainsmen - Charley Wayne - Barton Rees Pogue - Drifting Pioneers - Judy Dell - DeVore Sisters - Chuck Woods - Harry Adams - Sept 16, 1938

Promo Ad - Boone County Jamboree - WLW - Emery Auditorium - Sep 30, 1938 - Lafe Harkness - Helen Diller - Drifting Pioneers - DeVore Sisters - Ralph Woods - Barton Rees Pogue
Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Emery Auditorium - DeZurik Sisters - Sep 1938

Radio Log - WLW - Boone County Jamboree - Cincinnati Post - Sep 16, 1938

A couple weeks later, readers once again could read Fred Breyer's in-person account of the show.

"Like oysters and olives, hillbilly music can become pleaseing to the taste if properly cultivated. When I attended the first Boone County Jamboree at the Emery two weeks ago I was more or less convinced that two hours of assorted "git-tar" playing and singers "Comin' Round The Mountain" was too much for anyone to handle in one evening. Now I'm not so sure. In fact, I'll break down and confess that this type of merriment is getting a hold on me.

Featured entertainers on last night's BooneCounty Jamboree were the DeZuirk Sisters, a yodeling team who can outyodel anyone I have ever heard and, first and last, I've heard a lot of yodelers. The Five Aces, comedy singers, put on a novelty comedy act that was first rate. HelenDiller, the Canadian cowgirl who was going back to Montana last week (vocally) was headed for Texas last night (also vocally). She is equally good, headed either directrion. The Drifting Pioneers, the Brown Couty Revelers, and the Southern Stars dispensed their mountain melodies (or are they cowboy melodies) with their usual effectiveness. Lafe Harkness' jokes are getting nearer originality each week. Charley Wayne, the hard-working master of ceremonies, sang several songs, his "Lonesome Road" drawing the most approval. These shows, which appear at the Emery each Friday night, rank high in entertainment value."

Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Emery Auditorium - Sep 23, 1938
Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Pa and Ma McCormick - Denny Slofoot - Judy Dell - Helen Diller - Lazy Jim Day - Lafe Hrkness - Charlie Wayne - Oct 1938

WLW Boone County Jamboree
Cast Photo from 1940 Flyer

WLW Boone County Jamboree - Cast Photo 1940
Front row (L-R): Lafe Harkness; Tillie Q. Smith; Denny SLofoot; Kenny Carlson (ventriloquist) w/Scrappy O'Brien; Dolly Good; Millie Good; (Girls of the Golden West); Clarence Dooley, Lenore Burch, Susie Rinehart, J. Alan Rinehart, Hazel "Emmy Lou" Turner, Harold Maus (Novelty Aces); "Lazy" Jim Day; Lulu Belle; Skyland Scotty
Second row (L-R): Roy Fields; Eileen Graham; Charles Linville; Wesley Tuttle; Brownie Reynolds; Maggie Willoughby; Clem Willoughby; "Sleepy" Wayne Marlin; "Walt" Brown; Merle Travis; Bill Brown; Ma McCormick; Hugh Cross; Pa McCormick; Shug Fisher; Paul de Fun; John C. Spears; Buddy Ross; Chester Herman
Third row (L-R): Gordon Shaw; Hal O'Halloran; Bill McCluskey; Fay Earlywine; Pearl White; Jilson Earlywine; Robert Bolton; Aileen Hinkle; John Grigsby; Virgie Lee; Elmer Lee; Tex Owens; Helen Diller; Don White; Jo Taylor and Alma Taylor (Kentucky Girls); Fred Kirby; Lon Clark; Hank Richards; William J. Rocca
Note: Some names be spelled incorrectly due to handwriting on flyer for each name.

Promo Ad - Union Theatre - New Philadelphia, OH - WLW Boone County Jamboree 1940 Edition According to information contained in the song folio booklet, "Favorite Songs of the WLW Boone County Jamboree" the show was first conceived in 1938 by James D. Shouse. He was the vice-president of the Crosley Corporation in charge of broadcasting. He dreamed:

"...of a program which would radiate sincere friendliness; feature the simple, tuneful melodies of rural communities, southern mountains and the western plains—a program which would lighten the workaday cares of the great mass of people, both old and young, to many of whom modern dance music did not appeal."

The idea was to get listeners to believe the cast was as friendly as a next door neighbor.

Pa and Ma McCormick were the 'head' of the family so to speak. Charley Wayne was the emcee, having already done a similar role on WCKY. A Canadian native, Helen Diller, became one of the most popular members of the show.

WLW seemed to have been a path for stars from other stations or shows to branch out and reach other audiences. Or in the case of Sunshine Sue, a stepping stone to her next role on the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance. From WLS, Lulu Belle and Scotty were on the show a couple of years. Hal O'Halloran and Bill McCluskey came from WLS in Chicago as well. Merle Travis headed up the Drifting Pioneers. A comedy duo, Clem and Maggie (Willoughby) entertained fans.

Folio Cover - Favorite Songs of the WLW Boone County Jamboree - 1941

Promo Ad - Clem and Maggie - 1941 Edition Boone County Jamboree - Merle Travis - Drifting Pioneers - Sleepy Marlin - Denny Slofoot - Lafe Harkness - Tilly Q. Smith - Lazy Jim Day - Nov 1940

Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Emery Auditorium - Grandpappy Doolittle - Bradley Kincaid - Dorothy McVitty - Joanna - GIrls of the Golden West - Happy Hal O'Halloran - Curly Fox and Texas Ruby - Hugh Aspinwall - Happy Valley Girls - Hugh Cross - Prairie Sweethearts - Roy Starkey - Pa and Ma McCormick - Grandpa Jones - Delmore Brothers - Boone County Buccaneers - Sunshine Sue and Her Rangers - Mar 1943

Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Washington Court House, OH - July 1941 - Lazy Jim Day - Happy O'Halloran - GIrls of the Golden West - Curly Fox and Texas Ruby - Bill and Evalena - Pa and Ma McCormick - Drifting Pioneers - Fayette County Fair Grounds
Promo Ad - 93rd Annual Muncie Fair - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Little Jimmie Dickens - Roy Starkey - Harpo and Tiny - The Johnson Twins - Brown's Ferry Four - Cal Fortune - Alton Delmore - July 1945

Promo Ad - WLW Indiana Corn Festival Jamboree - Girls of the Golden West - Hugh Cross - Curly Fox and Texas Ruby - Bill and Evalena - Slofoot Denny - Fowler, IN - Sep 1941
Promo Ad - Colonial Theatre - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Bradley Kincaid - Happy O'Halloran - CUrly Fox and Texas Ruby - DOlly Good - Boone County Buccaneers - Roy Starkey - Merle Travis - Prairie Sweethearts - Possum Gossett - Hank Penny - Grandpa Jones - Crazy Joe - The Jamborettes - Delmore Brothers - April 1943

Promo Ad - Boonville Fair - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Curly Fox and Texas Ruby - Denny Slofoot - Hugh Cross - Bill and Evalena - Lulu Belle and Scotty - July 1941
Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Palace Theatre - Marion, OH - Denny Slofoot - Merle Travis - Helen Diller - Speepy Marlin Clem and Maggie - Lafe Harkness - Tillie Q. Smith - Nov 1940

Promo Ad - WLW Boone County Jamboree - Memorial Hall - Dayton, OH - June 1949
Promo Ad - WLW Midwestern Hayride and Boone County Jamboree - Shady Acres - Mulberry, IN - Ernie Lee - Dolly Good - Trail Blazers - Turner Brothers - Kenny Roberts - Bill Thall - Aug 1949

In early 1945, WLW introduced a new program - WLW Midwestern Hayride. It was touted as a "new blend" of music; it was "Neither Hillbilly Nor Modern, But Pure Homespun Novelty." The article conjures up the definitions of "taken for a ride" in past eras - "pleasant outing in a new surry, with or without fringe on top." Or it could have been the "horseless carriage" of the 20's and 30's. Or in later years, a one-way journey when racketeers took over a town. But WLW took the term "ride" and incorporated it into its programs names. Thus, "Midwesatern Hayride." The idea was said to be born from the collective efforts of "Wild Bill" McCluskey and Ed Mason.

"The music is homespun, yet neither hillbilly, nor modern. It is a mixture of both, which is produced by stirring together novel arrangements of both types of music. "

The show included some of the regulars from the Boone County Jamboree. Other show regulars were "..other contributors are the regular line of musicians and vocalists." Little Jimmie Dickens was the master of ceremonies, "...awaiting television to have realized by listeners the full value of the expression 'the little man with the big voice.'

Some examples provided were Max Condon, a tenor said to be able to sing any type of music, including opera and hillbilly. Dolly Good sang along with the Buccaneers in various types of tunes. The Trail Blazers were said to be variety artists with featured parts in the show. Comedy was the role of Grandpappy Doolittle. Rounding out the cast were the Johnson Twins, Lee Morgan and Penny Woodford.

Promo Ad - Boone County Jamboree - Charlie Wayne - Helen Diller - Kentucky Girls - Lazy Jim Day - Lafe Harkness - Drifting Pioneers - Judy Dell - Kenny Carlson - Piqua, OH - Feb 1939

Promo Ad - Boone County Jamboree - Lazy Jim Day - Helen DIller - Novelty Aces - Hal O'Halloran - Pa and Ma McCormick - Charlie Wayne - Kentucky GIrls - Drifting Pioneers - Kenny Carlson - Scrappy O'Brien - Sunset Rangers - Slofoot Denny - Judy Dell - Ozark Sweetheart Eileen Graham - Lafe Harkness - Billboard - May 27, 1939


Scotty (Skyland Scotty) Wiseman

Denny Slofoot

Fiddlin' Daisy Lang and Evelyn Perry

Sunshine Sue

Cal West (Clem and Maggie)

Edith Collins

Delmore Brothers


Credits & Sources

  • When Is Hillbilly Not Hillbilly Is Big Question In Canova Case; Paul Kennedy; September 15, 1938; The Cincinnati Post; Cincinnati, OH
  • Nightbook Of Rambling Radio Editor In Search Of Items; Paul Kennedy; September 17, 1938; The Cincinnati Post; Cincinnati, OH
  • Movie Report Card - Emery; Fred Breyer; The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, OH
  • Emery - Fred Breyer; October 1, 1938; The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, OH
  • New Blend Of Music Is Created; March 4, 1945; The Cincinnati Enquirer; Cincinnati, OH
  • Favorite Songs of the WLW Boone County Jamboree; 1941; M. M. Cole Publishing Co.; Chicago, IL


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