• Added info on Jimmy Ford, thanks to Volker Houghton. • Extended and corrected the post on Happy Harold Thaxton (long overdue), thanks to everyone who sent in memories and information! • Added information to the Jim Murray post, provided by Mike Doyle, Dennis Rogers, and Marty Scarbrough. • Expanded the information on Charlie Dial found in the Little Shoe post.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Gathright's Saturday Night Jamboree

West Second Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, ca. 1910
Pine Bluff was home to "Gathright's Saturday Night Jamboree", one of Arkansas'
earliest live stage country music shows

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, live country music stage show took place in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, entitled "Gathright's Saturday Night Jamboree". At that time, Pine Bluff was a 21,000 residents city with an agricultural based economy, perfect surroundings for a weekly Saturday night country show.

The Saturday Night Jamboree grew out of a weekly, informal jam sessions by local musicians that took place at Gathright Van & Storage Transit Company. Beginning around 1942, the session soon attracted audience and became popular among the citizens, developing the informal meetings into shows. Local radio KOTN began broadcasting these shows on January 9, 1943, as "Gathright's Saturday Night Jamboree".

Soon, the attendants outgrew the capacity of the store and the show moved to another venue known as "Gathright's Hayloft". By September that year, larger station KARK out of Little Rock had added the show to its programming, which resulted in two broadcasts of the show: each Saturday the first segment aired state-wide over KARK and a second segment aired locally over KOTN.

Emcee of the show was Joe Wallace. The cast was made up of local talent, including such acts as Smokey Goodwin, Eva Pappas, Two Guys and a Gal, Gene Gray, Bill Dudley, the Original Tune Peddlars, Gathright's Quartet, Fanny Evans, and the house band of the show, the Troubadors. This band also featured local fiddler and singer M.T. "Fiddlin' Rufus" Brewer, who later joined the Louisiana Hayride along with Sammy Barnhart.

It is not known to me when the show ended its run. Any info is highly appreciated!

The Day the Music Died - by Bob Brewer (son of M.T. Brewer)
• Jimmy Cunningham, Jr., Donna Cunningham: "Delta Music and Film: Jefferson County and the Lowlands" (Arcadia Publishing), 2015, p. 61

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