By Ivan M. Tribe and Jacob Baptist
In 1924 the “National Barn Dance” began broadcasting at WLS in Chicago. Soon after, “Barn Dance”, “Jamboree’, and “Hayride” radio programs began appearing in cities like Nashville, Dallas, Shreveport, Cincinnati, Knoxville, and Wheeling. These programs served as a prominent source of live and radio entertainment for folks who were interested in country and “hillbilly” music.
One of those programs was a “Jamboree” broadcast at WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. Launching in 1933, this program was home to many country and bluegrass stars. This new book, which is part of an “Images of America” series, displays the history of WWVA’s Jamboree. This is done predominantly through photographs.
The three-page introduction outlines a brief history of WWVA and its Jamboree. This introduction is followed by chapters that are designated by five different eras: 1933-1945, 1946-1962, 1962-1970, 1971-1983, and 1983-2020. There is also a special chapter called “Jamboree Bluegrass” that highlights the bluegrass acts that performed on the program from 1948 to 2020.
Each chapter includes a written introduction, which is approximately a half of a page in length. Then, the remainder of the chapter displays photos of the acts that played the Jamboree during that era. Next to each photograph is a short paragraph describing the artist or band and their connection with the Jamboree.
Reading the text of this book provides a nice overview of the history of the Jamboree, but the focus of this book—and the reason to buy it—is the historical photographs. There are over 200 photographs in this 128-page book. Photos that will be of interest to bluegrass fans include early photos of Jim and Jesse, the Osborne Brothers (with Red Allen), Jimmy Martin (with Paul Williams and a very young JD Crowe), the Stanley Brothers, Hylo Brown, Mac Wiseman (with Josh Graves on mandolin), Tex Logan, Charlie Monroe (with Curly Seckler on tenor banjo), Stoney and Wilma Lee Cooper, and more.
I recommend this book to anyone who has a connection to WWVA’s Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, or anyone who loves looking at vintage photographs of their country and bluegrass music heroes.