Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Cathy Gadd Combines Creative Abilities: Artist and Bluegrass Musician

cathy redoneCreativity runs through Cathy Gadd full steam ahead. Not only is Cathy an excellent artist, but she also plays bass in a musical group with her husband. Her creative side comes to life after working all day for Cambridge City Schools, where often she uses her creativity as well.

cathy sunflowers and barn

This old barn has a fencerow of sunflowers.

   All her talents were present from early childhood. Perhaps it started as doodling on her papers, but soon her teachers discovered this little girl had talent. She took art courses in high school and later in life took lessons from Sue Dodd. But even back in grade school and high school, Cathy was receiving first place ribbons for her artwork.

cathy and her dad

Cathy was playing bluegrass with her dad back in 1968/

   Music also occupied much of those early years. When she was eight, her dad, Richard Frasher, a Bluegrass musician, introduced her to the mandolin. After that, she began playing guitar and today she plays the upright bass. It’s important what we instill in our youngsters.

cathy country road

What a peaceful country road!

   At the age of ten, Cathy went with her parents to the Frontier Ranch Festival, where Loretta Lynn was performing. Eager young Cathy got as close to the stage as she could. When Loretta Lynn began singing “You Aren’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”, Cathy sang along. Loretta reached over the side of the stage and brought that little girl on stage to sing with her. What a memorable moment for an aspiring young singer!

cathy valentine bouquet

This bouquet she painted seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion.

   In seventh grade, she won a Country Music Contest in Woodsfield and four years later was singing in the All Ohio Youth Choir, which performed at the Ohio State Fair and around Ohio. The following year she took part in their European tour, a great time for a young girl from Barnesvillle.

   After her children were grown, Cathy again began performing with her dad on stage at various festivals and venues. Their talents were known from the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival to the Ohio River’s edge in Fly.


cathy church for advocacy auction

This painting was donated to an auction at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Guernsey County.

   Today many find out about her skill at painting through their Bluegrass connection. Cathy often donates one of her paintings to raise money at benefits. The orders follow.

cathy flag barn in snow

This flag barn in the snow certainly fits the winter season.

   Most of her pictures are painted with specific requests. Someone will send her a picture of a barn or house that they want to be painted. Within 7-14 hours, Cathy has re-created their favorite picture with her brushes on canvas. Her pictures reflect reality so well.

cathy barn with flag

This painting is on the Wall of Veterans in a home in New Martinsville, WV.

   One of her favorite things to paint is barns with the American flag. She has painted several of these on large 16′ x 24′ canvas. She’s always admired old barns and added the flag after her son served in Korea and Iraq and returned home safely.

cathy and frank

Frank and Cathy have always had that special musical connection.

   Life has been exciting for Cathy and her husband, Frank, as they have had many chances to demonstrate their Bluegrass talent. They formed the Wills Creek Band and for twelve years have performed all over Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

   Several times they have appeared on The Wheeling Jamboree, at the Pennyroyal Opera House, and festivals all over southeastern Ohio. Gospel music is a favorite of theirs and they frequently sing at their home country church, Wesley Community Chapel.

cathy and frank at jamboree

Frank and Cathy played at the Wheeling Jamboree Roadshow.

   An interesting sidenote is the fact that Cathy doesn’t read music. In fact, she says that bluegrass performers like to have ‘jam sessions’, which require that they just go with the flow of the music. Very adaptable!

cathy cd song writer

Cathy also likes to write songs and one of them is on this Stoneycreek CD.

   Cathy also writes her own songs. Often requested is her song, “Table of Memories”, which tells of her mother’s kitchen table, which was rather small, but filled with great family memories. One song she wrote is on a CD by Stoneycreek and is entitled, “Walk Along with Me”. This lady has so much talent.

Table of Memories”

Mom’s in the kitchen fixing dinner

The smell of fried chicken fills the air.

Soon we’ll all be sitting around the table

Making some memories to share.

Years later I look at that little table

And think of the years that have gone by

Someday I’ll get that little table

And keep the memories alive.

cathy and frank at badlands

Vacationing is something they hope to do more in the future. Here they visit the Badlands.

   As she thought about their musical life, Cathy remarked, “We are truly honored and privileged to have picked with some great talents.” Perhaps that’s because Frank and Cathy are great fun to be around as well as being known for their exceptional harmony. They are well known in Bluegrass circles.

cathy painting with cat molly

Her cat, Millie, likes to watch her paint.

   Cathy focuses on her paintings right now and dreams of traveling more when she retires. She has her eye on the New England states. Wherever she goes, this creative lady will find pictures to paint and songs to sing. What a talented artist!

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Canton Palace Theatre Presents Year-round Entertainment

canton theater

Today the Palace Theatre seats nearly 1500 guests.

Visit a theater where movies can be seen as they were in the 1920s. It still exists in downtown Canton, where you’ll find the Palace Theatre, a nostalgic part of Canton’s Downtown Arts District.

tonsiline ad

Sale of the Tonsiline medication provided funds for the million dollar theatre.

   Hard to believe this all began with the financial support of a local entrepreneur who made cough syrup. In 1909, Harry Harper Ink received a patent for Tonsiline, a product to cure tonsilitis, sore throats, colds and coughs. The bottle containing the medication was in unique giraffe shaped bottles. Advertisements for this product said:

If you had a neck as long as this fellow

And a sore throat all the way down,

Tonsiline would quickly relieve it.

tonsiline bottle

An original long-necked Tonsiline bottle with a giraffe pictured.

  When the theater opened on November 22, 1926, two giraffe-shaped plaques were located above the stage arch as reminiscent of this motif to honor Ivy, who gave this gift to the community. Gasoline only cost pennies a gallon then, so people had funds available for a night on the town. Even though there were nine other movie theaters at the time, the million-dollar Canton Palace Theatre was considered the “jewel in the crown”.

jay ac

The original Air Conditioning system is still being used today.

   Designed by Austrian-born architect, John Eberson of Chicago, the Palace sought to re-create a Spanish courtyard on a midsummer night. Its ceiling appears as a starry night with wisps of clouds floating across.

   Today the Palace still has that original cloud machine that projects that dreamlike quality overhead. Ivy suggested long ago that you sit in different places during each visit to view the constellations that appear at various angles.

jay post card

This postcard view highlights the beautiful Canton Palace Theatre.

   Their gigantic silver screen, measuring 21′ x 46′, still remains the largest movie screen in Canton. The orchestra pit has seating for eighteen musicians while downstairs there are eleven dressing rooms, a chorus room, and much more.

    Their first show was a silent movie, “Tin Hats”. Admission was 25 cents and the 1900 seat auditorium was filled. The early shows presented a full evening of entertainment beginning with an organ/orchestra concert, a short silent film, live vaudeville acts, and ending with a full length feature silent film. That’s a great night of entertainment for a quarter!

jay mahogany furniture and tile

An upstairs lounge displays a restored mahogany bench with original tile in the background.

   This was the time of the Charleston craze. Motion pictures featured Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. As time marched on, many famous stars appeared including George Burns and Jean Peters. Big Bands, such as Harry James and Count Basie Orchestra, found it the perfect fantasy setting for a concert.

jay roman statue

Pietro Caproni bronze statues appear throughout the theatre.

   But in the 60s and 70s, downtown Canton had a period of neglect as businesses moved to the suburbs. It’s marquee last sparkled on its 50th Anniversary in 1976. The building was slated for demolition.

jay original balcony seats (2)

The balcony seats are originals and a ghost is frequently seen here.

   Just one week before the wrecking ball was scheduled, the Canton Jaycees acted as a holding agent until citizens could be organized to make the Palace Theatre a place to be enjoyed once again. The Canton Palace Theatre Association was formed and restoration has been going on ever since. Since 1980, over four million dollars have been spent in restoration and updating.

jay palace theater

Historic Canton Palace Theatre presents concerts, movies and live events.

   Today, it’s marquee again burns brightly above Market Avenue and welcomes you to its grand foyer. Over 300 events are held here each year with an attendance of over 100,000 guests. Their great variety includes concerts, stage plays and movies, but you might also find public meetings using it as a perfect place to seat a large crowd.

jay at organ 2

Jay Spencer brings to life the original Kilgen Wonder Organ.

   Silent films are a special feature as they are accompanied by Jay Spencer on the original Kilgen Wonder Organ, which is a showpiece all by itself. The sound vibrates throughout the entire auditorium as it captures the happenings of the silent movies. The next silent movie special will be “The Cameraman” with Buster Keaton on Thursday, April 4.

  Check out their schedule for future events on their website at cantonpalacetheatre.org. Of special interest is their First Friday family-friendly movie night each month. It’s free for the whole family!

   Make plans to attend the Canton Palace Theatre sometime soon to enjoy a great movie, concert or stage performance. Relive old memories and make new ones. Feel the magic!

Canton Palace Theatre is located at 605 Market Avenue N. in Canton, Ohio just a couple blocks west of I-77. 

Pennyroyal Opera House in Fairview – Bluegrass at its Best

The place where Bluegrass happens!

Opera House

The Pennyroyal Opera House is along Old National Road in Fairview.

Along Old National Road in the town of Fairview, Pennyroyal Opera House provides a family-friendly evening of entertaining bluegrass music over the years from October through May. Their season is about to begin!

Country Gentleman Band

Country Gentlemen Tribute Band – October 5

   Their first show on October 5 features The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band with an awesome bluegrass sound.

Kevin Prater Band

Kevin Prater Band – October 12

Remington Ryde 1

Remington Ryde – October 19

   Following weeks will feature such greats as The Kevin Prater Band with strong vocal harmonies and a crowd-pleaser Remington Ryde.

Pennyroyal Opera House painting

Cathy Gadd, a long-time organizer, painted this picture of Pennyroyal Opera House.

   The historic building originally was home to the Methodist Church in the 1830s, then used as a Grange Hall. In 1910, it was purchased by the Pennyroyal Reunion Association. Since 1995, Pennyroyal Opera House is the place where Bluegrass happens.

Pennyroyal Distillery Postcard

This old postcard shows the Pennyroyal Distillery where medicinal oils were made.

   The name Pennyroyal came about from a Pennyroyal Distillery that was located in Fairview in the early 1800s. There seemed to be an abundance in the Fairview area of the wild herb, pennyroyal, a member of the mint family. Pennyroyal herb oil was valued for its medicinal purposes.

Betty and Harold

Betty Eddy planted the seed for bluegrass at Fairview with Harold Dailey.

   A chance encounter at 1st National Bank in Barnesville changed events in Fairview. Harold Dailey began working at the hospital there and one day, Betty Eddy, an employee of the bank, asked Harold if he had an idea for making some money for the Pennyroyal Reunion Association.

Stage

The stage is ready for the season to begin.

   Since Harold played and enjoyed bluegrass, he suggested having a bluegrass show. In 1995, Harold, with some local help, organized the first bluegrass show at the Pennyroyal Opera House. In the beginning, their plan was to feature local bluegrass groups so they could have a place to showcase their talents.

Opera House crowd

Each concert draws a full house of people who love bluegrass.

   From that humble beginning, the show blossomed into a nationally known place to hear and perform bluegrass. Today there is never a problem getting excellent bluegrass bands from all over the United States and Canada to stop by for an evening. They’ve even had bands call from England to request a time for performance.

Harold and Kenny by the stage

Harold and Kenny Keylor reminisce about bands that have played on that stage.

   While Harold started the show, Frank and Cathy Gadd have held the reins for many years recently. Since Harold’s retirement, he asked if he might become active again in organizing the bluegrass programs.

Almost Famous (2)

Harold plays electric acoustic bass in the bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Harold says, “I’m glad to be back as I love bluegrass, play bluegrass and love to promote it.” Harold plays electric acoustic bass in a bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Many from the Pennyroyal Reunion Association still help by providing the delicious home cooked food in the kitchen. Betty Eddy serves as treasurer and still bakes pies with favorites being custard, rhubarb, and peanut butter.

Lonesome River Band poster

The poster from the first professional band that played there still hangs backstage.

   This isn’t a large building or a large show, but it’s big on talent on Friday evenings. Since they’re right along Interstate 70, many big-name stars will stop for a pick-up-date on their way to their Saturday performance. It’s a great chance to meet some of your favorite bluegrass stars up close and personal.

photos on wall

Spend time before the show checking out the pictures on the walls.

   There are pictures on the wall of some of those popular names who have played there in the past. The first professional band that played there was The Lonesome River Band. Other pictures include such greats as Bobby Osborne, The Grascals, IIIrd Tyme Out, Rhonda Vincent and Dave Evans.

   For those nights when you want to listen to some top-notch bluegrass and can’t make it out to the show, sit back and listen on the radio. Their shows are carried live at 101.1 FM in Wheeling and 101.9 FM in Cambridge.

   If you want to check out their full 2018 schedule, go to www.pennyroyalbluegrass.com. For booking information call Harold Dailey at 740-827-0957.

Inside with seats already reserved

People have already placed their blankets on seats to save them for the next show. It’s a tradition!

   Come early some Friday evening for some delicious food, then go upstairs and listen to some quality classic bluegrass, which puts soul into music.

Pennyroyal Opera House in Fairview can easily be reached off I-70 between Old Washington and St. Clairsville. Take exit 198 and this popular Bluegrass Music house can be found on the north side of the road very near the exit.

The Voice of Enthusiasm at Salt Fork Festival

carol-jones Muskingum UniversityEnthusiasm spreads from Carol Wilcox-Jones to everyone she meets. It’s contagious! Carol is the spark that gets things going, whether at her summer music camps or at the Salt Fork Festival. She does it all with a song in her heart.

   Growing up in Kansas, the Wilcox family sang even while doing housework. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing,” Carol recalls with a sparkle in her eyes. Her dad played guitar at square dances and sang on the radio, while her mom did the Charleston and even clogged. Family always ranked high in importance to Carol.

Carol - Dad 001

At age five, she sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with her dad at a square dance.

   Even though Carol sang with her dad on stage at the age of five, it was in high school that the singing bug really bit her. She sang the leading role of Laurie in Oklahoma, followed by many more leading roles. By the time she was a senior, she was invited to enter the Miss Kansas City pageant, which she won singing “Love Is Where You Find It” and “Clap Your Hands”.

   While studying at the University of Kansas she performed leading roles such as Maria in West Side Story, and Marion in The Music Man. She heard her first opera there when the Metropolitan Opera Touring Company came to perform. Carol smiled, “I fell in love with their thrilling singing.” Shortly thereafter, she had a chance to perform as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, still her favorite Mozart opera.

Carol Captain Jinks

Carol performed as Aurelia in the opera, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines.

   During college summers, Carol apprenticed herself at Central City, Co. and Santa Fe Opera companies. Upon graduation, she decided she would try a career in the opera and where better to do that than The Big Apple. While working toward her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music, she was invited to audition for the Metropolitan Opera. She was offered an artist contract and was soon busy learning new operatic roles.

Carol Barber of Seville

In the comic opera, Barber of Seville, Carol appeared as Rosina.

   Her list of performances is quite extensive and can’t possibly be listed here. In addition to her roles with the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, she has sung leading roles throughout the US and Canada, including the Washington Opera at Kennedy Center, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston Grand Opera, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and many others.

Carol Opera 001

Carol sang in Perichole at the Kansas City Lyric Opera.

   She has performed and enjoyed music theatre roles with St. Louis MUNY Theatre, KC Starlight, Blossom Festival, Caramoor Festival, and others. Carol has appeared on Broadway, sung over 100 recitals, and recorded for RCA and CRI, and has been a featured soloist with many symphonies.

   “It’s not just the beautiful voice, but her overall performance that projects feelings and words,” explained a conductor at the Lyric Opera. “I’ve never known Miss Wilcox to give a bad performance.”

Carol - dalmations

Carol and her family’s dalmatians appeared on the cover of Star in 1975 when she appeared at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City.

   One summer, when Carol was performing at the Lyric Opera Co. in Kansas City, there was also a young man, Robert Jones, under contract. Robert spotted the lovely lady with the beautiful voice and became her biggest fan. A year later, they were married.

Carol and Robert 001

Robert Owen Jones and Carol Wilcox-Jones perform here in  “Die Fledermaus”, an operetta by Johann Strass II.

   Robert was that old-fashioned guy she admired, and family had always been important to her. After their marriage and the birth of their son, Chris, they moved to New Concord where Robert taught music as Director of Vocal Activities at Muskingum College. The couple also happily welcomed their second child, Jennie, to their family.

Carol's Family

Carol, Bob, Jennie and Chris enjoy singing together as The Jones Family.

   Carol was soon invited to join the music faculty at Muskingum as Artist-in-Residence and taught voice, as well as helped develop the Music Theatre minor now offered at Muskingum University. Carol also holds a Master of Arts in Vocal Pedagogy Degree from the Ohio State University and continues to Direct of the Summer High School Music Theatre CAMP, a program she created in 2006. Her reason for being involved is simply: “I support young people and through music, I open as many windows as I can for them.”

Carol Summer Music Camp

The High School Summer Music Theatre CAMP at Muskingum University has been directed by Carol since 2006.

   Carol’s musical background contains many degrees, extensive performing and teaching experience, but it’s her application of all this knowledge that makes Carol such a valuable asset to the groups she works with.

   Robert and Carol had been fans of the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival for years. When Robert retired, he volunteered to schedule the musical portion of the Festival, and it followed that Carol assisted him before she became also involved with fundraising.

   Last year, Carol became Director of the Festival. Even though she didn’t feel experienced, the festival turned out to be wonderful and was indeed a happy place to spend the weekend for both artists and visitors.

Carol-Wilcox-Jones-Chamber Award 2

Carol received the Distinguished Service Award for her role in reviving the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Her role in reviving the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival earned her the Distinguished Public Service Award. Her time and energy devoted to this project have been phenomenal. Connections with various groups and businesses in the community have made it possible to continue financing this popular three-day event.

Carol and Robert BASH

Robert and Carol entertained at the Salt Fork BASH, accompanied by Preservation Dixieland All-Star Band.

   One special event, the Festival BASH, became their signature fundraiser. The support of the community has been outstanding, seen through the participation and success of the BASH, which is an evening filled with visiting friends, delicious food, outstanding music, and many prizes and silent auctions.

   Carol does not take credit for all this herself. She has a very active board of trustees who also head up Festival Committees and work tirelessly to produce the Festival with the help of many volunteers. “I’m very proud of all those who have made it possible. The Festival leaders have kept this Festival going for nearly 50 years! That’s pretty incredible!”

50th Anniversary

Carol works with a great group of volunteers as they prepare for the 50th Anniversary.

   The next big project is working with a 50th Anniversary Blue Ribbon Committee for the 2019 festival. There are plans to begin building an enhanced entranceway to the park at Edgeworth Street that will be a permanent feature and reminder of the festival for future generations.

   Now, she’s looking forward to the 49th Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, August 10-12, 2018. Summing up her Festival feelings, she enthusiastically remarked, “The Festival experience – the creative arts, demonstrations, concerts, and activities- are offered free to the public. It’s an uplifting, community-building celebration with a great combination of quality visual and performing arts and delicious foods offered in the beautiful outdoor setting at Cambridge City Park. What’s not to love?”

Leonard Thomas – Born to Perform

Len Salt Fork Bash 2

When a piano’s not available, a keyboard will do.

When Leonard Thomas enters a room with a piano, you want to pull out the piano bench and have him tickle the ivories as he bursts into song.

While Len was born in Cambridge in 1927 and now lives there, he has traveled extensively using his musical talents not only at the piano or with his vibrant voice, but also in composing and directing. This man overflows with musical talent.

Len Note from Fred Waring

Fred Waring showed his appreciation to Len in this keepsake note.

He credits his success to the wonderful upbringing he received from his parents and siblings. Their support and encouragement make him feel lucky to have such a special family. He learned the importance of hard work from being a paperboy and soda jerk to conductor and performer.

The first time he sang in public happened at the First Christian Church when he was twenty-four months old. He entertained the crowd downstairs by singing “Bow Wow Blues” to the amazement of all. Len still calls this church home.

Len going places

Even as a youngster, Lenny had plans for going places.

When Lenny was only three years old, he went to visit with the family. A niece was just starting to take piano lessons and he asked her to show him what she was learning. She first  played the notes with her right hand, and Lenny played them back by ear. Next she played the left hand. Again Lenny played them back by ear. He asked her how you put them together and she said she had never done that yet. So Lenny said, “Do it like this.” and played them both.

By the time he was four, his parents thought he should have piano lessons, but they couldn’t afford it. Lenny went to see a lady across the street who gave piano lessons and told her he would like to take lessons but didn’t have any money to pay her.

She asked him if he would mow her yard for fifty cents a week. Lenny asked her how much the lessons would be. “Fifty cents a week.” It worked perfectly.

Len Fred, Ann and Len

Fred Waring and Len’s one-room school teacher, Anna Priaulx, visit with Len after a concert.

Lenny attended Rock Hill School, a one-room school near Center.  This provided a great learning atmosphere for him as he learned from all the classes. Everything fascinated him under the guidance of a very special teacher, Anna Priaulx.

By the age of ten, this young boy could play nearly all the classicals from great composers from memory.  He didn’t however forget the songs that were popular during that era.

Len Trio (2)

At Cambridge High School in 1947, Len played for this trio of  Carol, Barbara and Donna, who he said could harmonize as well as the Andrew Sisters.

At Cambridge High School, his musical talent has never been forgotten. His choice of a band instrument became a sousaphone, but he also sang in many groups as well as served as accompanist. No wonder he was voted the boy most likely to succeed as well as the most talented.

Len Muskingum Sr

Len graduated from Muskingum College and after retirement came back to assist with their music program.

Leonard graduated from Muskingum College with a B.S. in Music Education, but he never intended to use it. He wanted a career in performing so headed to Boston University, where he studied with great success.

But when he got home from Boston, his mother told him there was a letter waiting for him. It was his draft call from the Army. Len got lucky again as he was assigned to a base with a band. Now he could use his sousaphone experience from high school to participate in the Army band.

With this band, he headed to Germany, where they spent their time performing, participating in parades and singing at the chapel and in a barbershop quartet. Why he even had his own apartment and gave piano lessons.

Upon his return home, the hand of God guided him to the minister of the Central Presbyterian Church in Zanesville. There he had his first real job as choral director for five choirs among other assignment.

Along came someone from the court system and suggested that Len become a probation officer since he worked so well with young people. Now he had two jobs, so decided to buy his first car – a black ’57 Sunliner convertible.

Len with Steinbach

He still plays the piano he purchased in New York City in 1964, when he lived in a townhouse on the 19th floor.

Three years later, Len again decided to further his education and headed back to Boston to pursue his doctorate. Since all the schools were closed for the summer, he contacted an Army buddy in New York City and moved there for a while to a Central Park Townhouse.

Enjoying city life, Len began looking for a teaching job in the area.  He found one in Brooklyn at McKinley Jr. High School. Here he directed their choirs and led them in performing outstanding concerts. For eleven and a half years, this was his life.

Len Pennsylvanians

An attractive program design highlights Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.

Well, except for summers!  Those last six summers he attended Fred Waring’s Workshops, where he learned more about performing. One of the students asked Len to play for their audition. It was Len that landed the job to play with the Pennsylvanians with his keyboard talent.

Len Young Pennsylvanians

Teaching young people is something he has always enjoyed. Here he is conductor for the Young Pennsylvanians.

For many years, Leonard performed with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. During the 40s and early 50s, Waring produced a string of hits, selling millions of records. Breezin’ Along with the Breeze was his signature tune. Waring’s often called The Man Who Taught America to Sing. Len Thomas was one of those he helped along the way.

Len and Fred at last performance

Pennsylvanians perform for the final time with Len and Fred Waring, only twelve days before Waring’ passed away.

When Fred Waring died in 1984, Len was asked to work as editor and arranger for Shawnee Press, which was founded by Fred Waring. Shawnee Press has been instrumental in providing quality musical arrangements to high schools, colleges, and orchestras.

Len Shawnee Press Business card

Len’s business card with Shawnee Press carried Waring’s logo at the top.

After working for Shawnee Press for seventeen years, it was sold and moved to another state. At the same time, Len had an offer to purchase his beautiful home in Pennsylvania. His heart and mind said it was time to return home.

Len Distinguished Service Award at Muskingum

Len received the Distinguished Service Award at Muskingum University.

When he returned, Muskingum College requested that he direct their concert choir. Frequently, he gave piano lessons, where he explained to students that playing the piano isn’t just done with the fingers, but with the wrists, arms and elbows. Your entire body feels the music.

Len at Salt Fork Festival Chorus

He still loves to perform and assists with many community musical events, such as the Salt Fork Festival Chorus.

The community feels lucky to have him return to the Cambridge area. Now he plays in the Muskingum Jazz Group, for numerous groups including the Cambridge Singers, and provides background music for many banquets, parties, funerals and weddings.  Let’s face it, Len loves to perform.

Preservation Dixieland All Stars

Preservation Dixieland All Stars will be performing at the Salt Fork Festival BASH. Members include: Jerry Weaver, Len Thomas, Don Kason, and Dave Jacobs.

Today at the age of 86, he has no problem remembering all those songs from years gone by. No matter what song is requested, Len’s fingers respond perfect. “The Lord’s been good to me,” smiled Len, as he’s fulfilled all his dreams.

His twilight years have been both enjoyable and fulfilling. Now it the time when he can give back to the community where he grew up. “When you spend time helping others, you find the happiness you seek.”

 

Wheeling Jamboree Celebrates 85th Anniversary – The Country Music Show with Tradition Like No Other

 

Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre in downtown Wheeling, WV will host the 85th Wheeling Jamboree Anniversary.

Wheeling Jamboree lives on! The Historic 85th Anniversary of the Wheeling Jamboree will be held on April 7, 2018 at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Wheeling. Many of the stars will be familiar, and some new, but the country atmosphere will still fill the theater.

The jamboree originated in 1933 on the first Wheeling radio station, a 50,000 watt clear channel station – WWVA. One of its early announcers was Howard Donahoe, who later came to Cambridge to start WILE in 1948.

Mel Tillis

The late Mel Tillis was beloved by country music fans everywhere.

The working people of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast US have their roots in country music so the words in the songs ring true to their lives. That’s why the Jamboree became a popular Saturday evening entertainment.

A unique diversity also appears in Wheeling. The Jamboree and the Wheeling Symphony both take place in Capitol Theatre. So no matter what your musical taste, it can easily be satisfied in Wheeling.

JohnnyCashOnStageatJamboree1968_Enhanced

Johnny Cash made an appearance at the Jamboree early in his career.

William Wallace”Bill” Jones and the Sparkling Four was the first hillbilly act on the radio. They took requests over the telephone. Jones received many requests for yodeling songs and you may have heard him called Silver Yodelin’ Bill Jones.

Due to the popularity of the Jamboree music shows, it was decided to add a live audience to the Jamboree on Saturday nights. The first stage performance of the World’s Original WWVA Jamboree took place at the Capitol Theatre later in 1933 with all local talent, in front of an audience of over 3,000 fans. Then for decades, they broadcast from a different spot each Saturday evening.

Dolly_Parton_Jamboree_3_1976

Dolly Parton performed at Wheeling Jamboree in 1976.

During WWII, the Jamboree returned to the studio due to the war effort, then began stage performances after the war at Wheeling’s Virginia Theater. One of the most popular Jamboree stars at that time was honky-tonk vocalist, Hawkshaw Hawkins. Add to that the Sunshine Boys and “Yodelin’ Ranger” Hank Snow and people began looking forward to another evening of the Jamboree. If you were a top artist, you did the Jamboree.

Men would bring their cow bells with them as each bell had a unique sound. That way their family back home would know they were in attendance. Today, you’ll still hear the sound of cow bells over the radio on Jamboree nights on WBPS in Cambridge and WWOV in Wheeling.

JamboreeVirginiaTheater1946Color

The cast of the 1945 Wheeling Jamboree gathered on stage.

During the late 1940s, my parents took me on perhaps my first gypsy road trip to Virginia Theater to see the Wheeling Jamboree. Two names stick in my mind from that long ago show – Hawkshaw Hawkins with Dog House Boogie, and Grandpa Jones, who later starred in Hee Haw. At the time, this was quite the adventure from the hills of Indian Camp.

When the Virginia Theater was demolished after 16 years of hosting the Jamboree, their new home became the Rex Theater for four years. Then it was moved to Wheeling Island Exhibition Hall in 1966.

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Brad Paisley began playing at the Jamboree when he was ten years old.

Over the years, the Jamboree provided the perfect place for young local talent to get their start. Brad Paisley, from nearby Glen Dale, sang on the Jamboree at the age of 10 and played with their band weekly for eight years before moving on to Nashville.

Ronnie Milsap

Ronnie Milsap will be one of the performers at the 85th Anniversary.

The 85th Anniversary will be celebrated with well known country stars including Country Music Hall of Fame Members Ronnie Milsap and Charley McCoy. Add to that Wheeling native Tim O’Brien along with Darnell Milller, Rachel Whitcomb and more surprises. Emcee for the evening will be long-time country music personality, Keith Bilbrey.

Craig Wayne Boyd Jamboree

Craig Wayne Boyd was a winner on The Voice, but appeared at the Jamboree long before winning.

Today the Wheeling Jamboree broadcasts on WWOV to the air waves of the greater Wheeling area. Dave Heath, president of Wheeling Jamboree, Inc. and WWOV, has been instrumental in keeping this musical program alive.

Capitol Interior Post Renovation

The interior of the Capitol Theatre has recently had a grand renovation.

Whether you know the Jamboree as the Original WWVA Jamboree, Jamboree USA or The Wheeling Jamboree it remains the 2nd oldest Country Music Radio Broadcast Stage Show in history, behind the Grand Old Opry. Celebrate their 85th Anniversary on April 7 at 7:00 at the Capitol Theatre.

Ticket prices range from $20-$65 and can be purchased online at www.capitoltheatrewheeling.com .You’ve got me thinkin’ that a trip to the Jamboree would be the perfect way to spend an evening.

Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, WV can easily be reached off I-70 at Exit 1A. Take Route 40 straight downtown. The Theatre is on the right hand side at 1015 Main Street.

Ted Lewis’ Grand Refrain – “Is Everybody Happy?”

Ted Lewis Museum

The Ted Lewis Museum was renovated last year for its 40th Anniversary.

For those interested in old entertainers and movies, Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville, Ohio will arouse your curiosity. Ted’s first professional singing job happened in 1906 in between movies at the Circleville Electric Nickelodeon. His salary – $4 a week. But that was just the beginning.

Ted Theater with Joyce

Joyce Keller, president of the museum, stands in front of a replica of the first theater where Ted  performed.

Born Theodore Friedman in Circleville, Ohio, his younger years were spent helping his parents in Friedman’s Bazaar, an emporium which supplied women of Pickaway County with the latest fashions. Ted spent his time sweeping inside and outside the store, as well as making deliveries. It wasn’t something he enjoyed.

His earliest musical instrument experience came at the age of nine when he played piccolo in the Circleville Cadet Band. His fingers weren’t long enough yet to play the clarinet. But Ted mowed lawns during the summer to save money to buy an E-flat clarinet he knew he wanted to play.

However, Ted became fascinated with syncopation and began taking lessons after school with Cricket Smith, a black barber. Jazz ran in Ted’s blood, which had him dismissed from the Cadet Band. The band teacher later apologized when Ted became famous.

Ted Early Days

In 1911, Ted would return home from tours when he ran out of money, which was often.

As a teenager, he played his clarinet to help draw a crowd for Dr. Cooper’s Medicine Man Show and sold balloons and cotton candy. He’d carry circus banners in parades and even followed them out of town. This caused his parents much embarrassment and they tried to send him to business college in Columbus, but to no avail.

Ted Apartment 2

The books, bookcase and photos of life long friends, Ted and Sophie Tucker, are from his New York City apartment. Even the gold wallpaper has been replicated.

Ted kept busy following his dream of becoming an entertainer. He paired up with Jack Lewis under the billing Lewis and Friedman. One day in South Carolina, he saw the billing said Lewis & Lewis. The manager said that fit on the marquee better. After that he was always known as Ted Lewis, even though he never legally changed his name.

Ted Top Hat 2

His battered top hat, cane, and clarinet are on prominent display.

In 1916, at the age of 26, Ted formed his first band – Ted Lewis Nut Band. They were very popular in the New York City area and performed at Rector’s Restaurant, a high class venue. While there, he won an old top hat in a dice game from a cab driver called Mississippi. That top hat, his clarinet, cane and the question: “Is everybody happy?” were always part of his act.

Ted Lewis 001

Ted Lewis always wore his old battered hat at every performance.

Ted Phonograph

This old hand-crank Victrola played “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me”.

His theme song, “When My Baby Smiles at Me” and hits such as “Tiger Rag” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” earned him the title, “King of Jazz”. In 1926, his Columbia recording of “Tiger Rag” sold more than five million copies. He was their highest paid artist in the 1920s. This popular performer presented his act to nine United States Presidents and even did a command performance for King George V of England.

Ted Me and My Shadow

A video in a peanut cart plays “Me and My Shadow”.

During one performance, Ted noticed the doorman, Eddie Chester, mimicking him from the wings and asked him to join him on stage. Thus was born his signature routine, “Me and My Shadow”.

Ted Is Everybody Happy

Ted starred in a movie about his life. Beautiful women played a large part in his acts.

Ted Lewis Museum opened in 1977 across the street from where Ted was born. Here you’ll be able to see classic memorabilia and watch videos of Ted Lewis performing. He told his wife that when he died he wanted everything to come back to Circleville, “The Capital of the World”.

Ted 80th 2

Pictured at Ted’s 80th birthday party are Circleville Mayor Gordon, brother Milton Friedman, Ted, and Columbus Mayor Sensenbrenner.

This showman never forgot his hometown. Ted and his wife, Adah, devoted themselves to making Circleville a better place to live. They supported Berger Hospital, the local schools, and even made possible a 13-acre Ted Lewis Park complete with playground equipment, ball fields, and a swimming pool at that time. Ted entertained the troops during WWII and was a leader in selling war bonds.

Ted and friends

Ted’s friends included Benny Goodman, Sophie Tucker, George Jessel, and Eddie Cantor.

The museum on Main Street only opens on Friday and Saturday from 1-5. After your visit you’ll be ready to put on some tap shoes while grabbing a top hat and cane.

Ted Lewis Museum is located at 133 W Main Street in Circleville, Ohio. Follow US 22 for a scenic ride.

 

 

 

 

 

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