Monday, November 09, 2015

The WCBS Shindig Gang

I came across this post card and have struggled ever since to identify the band. My first thought was that it must be Denny Hilton and his Country Shindig Gang. But that's much too late to be the same group. Hilton was only active with that group maybe as early as 1970. However, that whole kerfuffle is interesting so let's digress. More here.

Denny Hilton created the Country Shindig Opry in 1970. It was a modern take on the radio variety show. it was based in Lake Of The Ozarks, MO and broadcast from a 1200-seat venue. But he was using the very proprietary word "Opry" long used by WSM-AM on their then 45 year old program. So in 1982, Hilton was sued by the Grand Ole Opry for copyright infringement. Shockingly the court rules that that the word "Opry" was commonly used and therefore a "generic" phrase dating back to before the WSM program debuted. The decision was upheld on appeal to a Federal District Court in 1984.  (In a separate case, settled on appeal in 1992, WSM won on more or less the same issue again the The Carolina Opry.)

But back to the picture at the top. It's quite obviously pre-1970. Probably pore-1950. In old issues of Cue Magazine there was a "Bobby Sherwood Shindig" airing around 1952 but that's on WOR. Bobby Sherwood isn't nearly as interesting as Denny Hilton. Actually, even the usually stoic Billboard magazine saw fit to mock him in print back in December of 1951  
"A lot more music and a lot less talk would make this hour and a half deejay show better fitted for what the station calls 'an afternoon of music.'  Ex bandleader Bobby Sherwood is a good spieler, his musical taste is equally fine; but the talk far outweighs the music called for by the stations programming idea..."
For the record, Sherwood's Shindig has no connection to the 1960's NBC television program. But back to that post card. The post mark is 1934 so Bobby would have been 20 years old and certainly not in this old-time looking troupe.So I dug out the Encyclopedia of American Radio by Luther F. Sies. It lists a few Shindigs: the Renfro Valley Shindig, Saturday Night Shindig, and a Saturday Night Shindig at the Old General Store. The Renfro Valley Shindig I suspect is another name for the Renfro Valley Barn Dance (which is problematic) which aired on WLW and WHAS. But WFAA-TV and WHIS both had Saturday Night Shindigs. The WFAA program was also carried on KRLD which was renamed "The Big D Jamboree" to further confuse the matter. Even more confusingly, that very program was syndicated on CBS in the 1950s. But the program only debuted in 1944, a decade too late. A final answer on this remains elusive.