The Brush Creek Follies may have easily been classified as a western rural variety show, and to an extent, that’s exactly what it was. However, quite a few musicians featured on the Brush Creek Follies did not devote their musical abilities exclusively to hillbilly and western music. Such groups as the Midland Minstrels (pictured right), Harvest Hands, Judy Allen, and the Payne Sisters all performed songs that appealed to novelty and popular music crowds. These musicians were incredibly good, especially the multi-talented Charlie Pryor, originally a member of the Midland Minstrels and later affiliated with the Tune Chasers. Listen to an excerpt displaying the versatility of the musicians on the Brush Creek Follies.[audio:http://info.umkc.edu/specialcollections/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2012-02-13_BrushCreek2_Church_kmbc-785.mp3|titles=Whatcha know Joe]
In addition to the great musical performances, the show presented familiarity to its listeners with the use of catchphrases by certain cast members. Here are just a few that have been burned into my mind after many hours of listening:
“Well for gosh sakes!” — Scrappy O’Brien, Kenny Carlson’s ventriloquist dummy, would always follow this catchphrase with a laugh and the occasional “Aw, shucks.” The “gosh” part of this catchphrase could last a good five seconds.
“Now cut it out, will ya?!” and “No foolin’…” — “Radio’s original rube” Hiram Higsby always had something clever to say or do during the show. Playing the part of the emcee for the Brush Creek Follies, he also announced most of the performances and was a regular part of the comedy routines, which often included these two catchphrases.
The laugh of Rube Wintersuckle — Think of what it would sound like if while driving, you rolled over a series of bumps while laughing. This is exactly what Rube Wintersuckle’s trademark laugh sounded like. Playing a red-headed hillbilly, Wintersuckle tended to come off as brainless because of his appearance and demeanor, but in the end, he always had the last laugh (no pun intended).
“Oh man…” and “Ain’t you hear?” — Probably the most discriminating and cringe-worthy of all of the Brush Creek catchphrases would be George Washington White and his black-faced comedy routine.
“Timber, timber, timber, timber!” — Similar to the way the Three Stooges harmoniously sang their hellos, Rocky and Rusty always introduced their songs with their own theme song.
“Uncle Charlie!” — Little Mary, a latecomer to the 1941 season, always brought about big laughs from the audience with her high-pitched voice, and we may never know why or what she looked like.
Gabby Tuttle, KMBC Project staff/Liberal Arts (BA) student
For more photos, information, and audio clips on the Brush Creek Follies, visit the Brush Creek Follies web exhibit.