Brush Country Music Jamboree – the show that wouldn’t end – finally did
by Jerry Retzloff
Dec 15, 2010 | 538 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dec. 7 marked the final performance of the Brush Country Music Jamboree in Live Oak County, after a remarkable 21-year run.

The show began in Dec. 1989. It was held at the Live Oak County Coliseum and was co-sponsored by the Live Oak County Fair Association and the George West Lions Club. Eule Hines and James Paul “Mac” McCarley were instrumental in starting the show. John Sisk then emceed the show and lined up the guest performers for several years; followed by Jack and Mary Lois Hardwick.

In May 1995, the Lions Club decided to bow out of the show and announced plans for it to end. However, Mac McCarley went to the Fair Board and persuaded them to sponsor the show alone. He said he would run the show and band. He recruited Jerry Retzloff and Jim Warren to help him.

The next 10 years (1995-2005) were the glory days of the show. Attendance often averaged 250 to 300 people some months; with a record high of 456 one show. At this time, the Fair Board recruited the local youth clubs to help run the ticket sales, snack bar, etc. In return, any left over gate receipts after expenses were given to the clubs for scholarships. During 1995 to 2005, over $25,000 was returned to the clubs.

These years also introduced Live Oak County to many popular entertainers from throughout the state, including Chris Rybak, Allison Crowson, Bobby Flores, Ricky Turpin, Shane Lala and once even a guest performance by Johnny Bush.

In 1999, poor health caused Mac McCarley to bow out of helping produce the show. He turned the band over to Anita Pierce and the scheduling of guests to Jerry Retzloff. McCarley died in June 1999.

By Sept. 2005, the crowds had dwindled somewhat and the fair board decided to stop sponsoring the show. Again, it looked like the show would end. However, Jim Warren wanted to continue the show and convinced First National Bank in George West to sponsor it. The attendance at this time averaged about 60 per show. In Feb. 2006, the show was moved from the coliseum to the George West Cafetorium. The attendance continued to dwindle.

In Dec. 2009, the bank decided to stop sponsoring the show and once again it looked like it would end. However, Jim Warren and Dale Cavallin decided to sponsor the show themselves. Jerry Retzloff had bowed out of the show when the fair board stopped sponsoring it.

From Jan. 2010 to Dec. 2010, Jim and Dale ran the show. The attendance continued to decline, finally down to about 30 people each show. Finally, in Nov. 2010, the band took a vote and decided to discontinue the show. However, it was a great 21-year run, providing entertainment to Live Oak and surrounding counties and providing a place for local and state-wide talent to perform and keep alive the old country music.

The Jamboree band began performing at the Three Rivers Salsa Festival in 2003 and has performed there every year since. They will again be at the Festival on April 2, 2011.
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