Baldknobbers to Donate Artifacts to Smithsonian Pioneering Variety Show from One of America’s Entertainment Capitals


WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History received a collection of objects from the Baldknobbers, a variety show based in Branson, Mo. The donation documents the long and rich history of this variety jamboree show and its place in American entertainment culture. The group was formed in 1959 when brothers Bill, Jim, Lyle and Bob Mabe began entertaining visitors on the Taneycomo lakefront with “The Baldknobbers Jamboree.” The Baldknobbers were named after an Ozarks vigilante group from the 1880s and are considered Branson’s first country music-and-comedy show. The Mabe brothers performed with folklore instruments: washtub bass, banjo, guitar, washboard and a mule’s jawbone to provide rhythm. The performances were an instant hit with visiting tourists and local fishermen. The band became so popular that it outgrew its original location and moved into an old skating rink, converting it into Br