The Wheeling Jamboree has been bringing music from the heart of America to America’s heart since it first premiered in 1933. This iconic radio show is celebrating its 83rd anniversary with a live show at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center on Friday, April 1.
The concert will be hosted by Country Radio Broadcasting Legend Keith Bilbrey and feature performances by JoAnn Jones, Darnell Miller, Shana Smith, Steve Smith, Andrea Call, Isaac Cole, Don Hoard and the Jamboree Staff Band, and the WVU Bluegrass Band. Showtime is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center box offices, online at Ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 800-745-3000 and 304-293-SHOW (7469).
“In my hometown, the Jamboree is really very, very important. It’s such a huge part of the culture of the Ohio Valley,” says Brad Paisley—country music superstar and Grammy Award-winner. The Jamboree is the second oldest live country music radio broadcast (Nashville’s “Grand Ole Opry” is the oldest) and it continues to lead the way in the industry. Paisley launched his career from the Wheeling Jamboree stage.
This April 1 concert is the first time that the show has been performed at the WVUCreative Arts Center. It will be hosted by Keith Bilbrey, country music radio personality and television host in Nashville, Tenn. Bilbrey is a former disc jockey at Nashville’s WSMwhere he served as an announcer for “The Grand Ole Opry” and later as the host of The Nashville Network’s “Grand Ole Opry Live.” He now serves as the announcer and sidekick on the top-rated “Larry’s Country Diner” television series on RFD-TV, The Nashville Network and Rural-TV. Bilbrey also hosts the syndicated radio show “Classic Country Weekly,” heard on 175 stations nationwide.
The University Arts Series and the WVU College of Creative Arts’ Music Industry Program are collaborating on the April 1 Wheeling Jamboree show. Mon Hills Records, WVU’s record label, is also Steve Smith’s label. Smith has opened for some of music’s biggest names, including Darryl Worley, Lee Brice, David Nail and David Allen Coe. His single “Wishing Well” spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Indie Charts. His debut album on Mon Hills Records is “Then and Now.”
JoAnn Jones is an established country vocalist on the QCA label. She was the first winner of StarQuest, the national talent competition presented by the Wheeling Jamboree in 1977. Jones has been an Artist Member of the Jamboree ever since. She is a regular in the annual Jamboree in the Hills lineup and appears as an opening act on the weekly Wheeling Jamboree shows. She has recently recorded new gospel projects with Emmy-winning producer Jamie Peck.
Darnell Miller is the reigning patriarch of the Wheeling Jamboree. The true definition of a traditional country entertainer, Miller has been making music for more than five decades. Recognized for his “hillbilly” style by such country greats as Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and Gene Autry, Miller has released a number of hit singles, including “Hinges on the Door.” He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Golden Circle of Country Music Honor Society.
Singer/songwriter Shana Smith has honed her skills at notable venues like the Blue Bird Café. Inducted into the Wheeling Jamboree in 2013, she has also performed at the annual Country Music Association event CMA Fest in Nashville.
Andrea Call is a recent inductee into the Wheeling Jamboree who performs regularly on the show—often with her husband John Call, a founding member of Pure Prairie League. Her duet with Darnell Miller, “Lovers or Friends,” was released in 2015 and is a favorite on international country music charts.
Isaac Cole recently gained national notoriety when he was dubbed the “Country Beiber” during his 2016 “American Idol” audition. Cole got his start at the age of 4 at the Emlenton United Methodist Church. He has since been recognized twice by the Inspirational Country Music Awards, earning the 2012 Youth in Music Award and the 2014 Best New Artist Award.
The WVU Bluegrass Band, comprised of talented WVU students, was formed in 2014 and performs a mixture of traditional and contemporary bluegrass styles. Under the direction of Dr. Travis Stimeling — assistant professor at WVU, American folk and Appalachian music expert, and music historian — the band recorded its first album “West Virginia Hills” on the Mon Hills Record label. The album is a collection of traditional bluegrass songs and includes the title song as well as “Country Roads.”
The Wheeling Jamboree concert at the WVU Creative Arts Center promises an unforgettable evening of traditional country music in the intimate atmosphere of the Lyell B. Clay Theatre. Tickets range from $23 to $35, depending on location. WVU Student tickets are $10. Tickets are on sale now at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center box offices, online at Ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 800-745-3000 and 304-293-SHOW (7469). The WVU student discount is only available at the campus box offices and is limited to one discounted ticket per valid WVU I.D.
This event is part of the University Toyota University Arts Series produced by WVU Arts & Entertainment. For additional information, call 304-293-SHOW (7469), or visit events.wvu.edu. Stay connected with the latest event updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @wvuevents.