Monday, January 5, 2009

The Baldknobbers

Grandma and I (Me and Grandma, I should say) like downhome music. Grandma doesn't have roots in the Ozarks, but Grandpa did. Grandma was from Peoria and came west for some reason, I don't know why.

Grandpa was from right down there though. We went down to see his old place one time. A tiny little town that might still be there. I should look on Google Earth. There was a cave just up the hill, and it was a big hill, and a spring that was still running when we were there. They used to get their water from that.

I was down in the Ozarks, back before the huge entertainment explosion that happened in years since. Back then they basically had two entertainment venues that I heard of, Presley Mountain Music Show and the Baldknobbers. This is a long time ago, 1971.

I went to the Baldknobbers show and it was definitely downhome stuff. It seems like it was a very small room, more or less just a room with a small stage up front. They had a rolled up religious picture that they untied and it fell before they did their "religious number."

Recently I got a VHS tape of a Baldknobbers show, which seems like it's from 2001. They mention something about the Florida recount and Al Gore. In 2001, and no doubt since, they were in quite a lavish theater, compared anyway to what I saw in '71. A big stage, multimedia stuff going on behind, big screens, cameras.

I watched most of it, but dropped off to pick it up later and haven't gotten back to it. The comedians are definitely entertaining, including one who is dressed up all goofy looking and is actually the producer of the whole show. In '71 they had a guy without teeth, just like on the 2001 tape, as part of the show. I have my original brochure from '71, so I pulled it out and it's a different guy for sure.

It's a lot higher tech now, and the cast looked smaller in the '71 brochure.

One of the weird things about the tape is that they panned the audience before the show, like for maybe 10-15 minutes. Up and down the aisles, leading me to think they must sell tapes of the show from that night and people are more likely to buy one if they have themselves on there. Folks were looking up at the screens and making faces, putting fingers behind others' heads, etc., and so the copy I have must be one of those souvenir tapes.

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