From, Bradley Hanson, Director of Folklife —
Jamboree Time is a documentary project I created in 2014, with support from Humanities Tennessee, the Campbell Culture Coalition, the Cumberland Trail Music and Heritage Project, and the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound.
Combining rare and recently uncovered archival film clips, recordings, photographs and interviews, each segment in the multi-part series portrays the legacy of the Tennessee Jamboree, a weekly stage show and radio program that aired on AM station WLAF in LaFollette, Tennessee from 1953 to 1978.
Across two and half decades, the live Saturday night program showcased a colorful cast of local and regional country, bluegrass, old time and gospel musicians. Modeled on the larger regional and national barn dance variety shows, the Jamboree was for the Appalachian coal mining and agricultural community a kind of homegrown Grand Ole Opry.
Broadcast initially at 500 watts–later increased to 1000–the Jamboree was among the emerging post-WWII live music radio shows that served small towns and rural areas. More than just a radio program though, the show was a center of cultural life for musicians, business owners and sponsors, politicians, civic leaders, and a devoted listenership in search of entertainment and local expression.
Based on eight years of fieldwork, interviews, and archival collecting, Jamboree Time preserves and documents the Tennessee Jamboree’s place in the cultural memory of the region, and in the lived experiences of its cast and community.