Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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No attempt was made at formalized presentation. The performers were all piled together simultaneously on the stage in a crowded mishmash. From the group—who con­stantly got in each other's way as they picked their way to center stage—a "femcee" named Sunshine Sue called them for their turns. (I will accept Sunshine Sue but I gag at "femcee.") With proper routining and scenes and a variety of sketches and comedy monologues to provide a change of pace from singing—and if the singers and musicians and comedians are directed by a director who knows the dif­ference between a town square where some loafers congre­gate and a stage—and if the material is cast in a revue pattern, I believe that a program of hillbilly music could entertain New York playgoers. There were moments in "Hayride" when pure talent overcame all the obstacles of a cold audience and a stupid management.
It happened when Daniel L. Pennell, who works under the sideshow name of Zag, the Ozark Mountain Boy, strummed a guitar and sang such pornographic cantatas as "Vegetable Love" and "Don't Do That to Me." He also de­livered himself of a magnificently exuberant version of "Jambalaya." Zag is a queer looking chap with hunched-up shoulders and a hebephrenic smile. As he chants, he aban­dons himself to the rhythm and weaves about almost in­sanely, shuffling his legs wildly and twisting his abdomen to and fro. I have not seen such interesting sex gyrations since James Dean, the Arab boy in "The Immoralist," at­tempted to work his wiles on Louis Jourdan.
It also happened when Joe Maphis and Cousin Rose sang "Cock-a-doodle-e-doo I'm the rooster, Cluck-cluck-cluck I'm the hen." Like Zag, Maphis has a flair for projecting a quality of magic from a stage, completing a circuit between himself and an audience. I must also mention a trio known as the Coon Creek Girls from Pinch-Em-Tight-Holler, Ken­tucky. One of the girls absolutely hypnotized me. She was a detached, pretty girl, a sort of Ophelia, with raven-black hair, and she had the same hebephrenic smile and seemed to be staring off into space as she stroked a bull fiddle with a stiffy curved right hand.
In a way, it is a neat symbolism that the season should have been opened with a form of entertainment that is