Financial Woes Force Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree Into Hiatus
It's been an iconic part of the country music scene for almost 68 years, but now the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree is being forced into hiatus due to financial difficulties.
"We've been fighting so hard that [canceling the Jamboree] just breaks my heart," songwriter Glenn Douglas Tubb, who is Ernest Tubb's nephew, tells Nashville's Tennessean.
The Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree, which airs on WSM 650AM after the Grand Ole Opry, has hosted some of the biggest stars of country music over the last several decades, including Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks and Connie Smith, the latter of whom performed for the first time in Nashville on the Midnite Jamboree stage.
The show is held at the Texas Troubadour Theatre on Music Valley Drive, near the Grand Ole Opry. Each show can cost up to $2,000 to produce, but it is free for spectators to watch while the show is being recorded -- a tradition upheld since the Midnite Jamboree's inception in 1947.
"This is a tremendous loss and a very sad sign of the times," WSM DJ and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs adds. "Those of us who have listened to and appeared on that show have never forgotten what that experience was like."
David McCormick, the owner of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tenn., who began working there as a teenager, has recently been using some of his own funds to help save the Midnite Jamboree. He is currently trying to find a new venue for the weekly concerts, and Glenn Douglas Tubb is hoping that the Jamboree will be able to return in May or June.
According to Saving Country Music, both the owners and manager of the Texas Troubadour Theatre have provided free rent to the Midnite Jamboree for the last year; however, delinquent fees owed to WSM, for broadcasting the show, are keeping the Jamboree off air for the time being.
"We believed that event needed to stay because of its history and its impact on the area," says T. Clark Miller, the property's manager. "From the landlord’s perspective, we’ve done everything we could to keep the Midnite Jamboree and to make it cost effective. We even pay the utilities. We can’t do anything more than give it away, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Meanwhile, the Midnite Jamboree Association has been formed to help save the iconic show.
"As an industry, we can't sit idly by and let this slip away," says Marty Stuart, who first played the Jamboree as a teenager, as part of Lester Flatt's band. "David McCormick is one of the cornerstones in the country music business; we need to do anything we can to help support him right now. We all lose if the Midnite Jamboree goes under."
More information, including ways to help, is available on the Midnite Jamboree Association's website.