NEW CREEK – Step back to gospel music's roots as the Chuck Wagon Gang brings their talent to the Rolling Acres Gospel Jubilee.
NEW CREEK – Step back to gospel music’s roots as the Chuck Wagon Gang brings their talent to the Rolling Acres Gospel Jubilee.
The jubilee kicks off at 7 p.m. on June 14, with Larry Delawder as Barney Fife and continues on Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. with guitarist Richard Kiser and The Chuck Wagon Gang.
The Chuck Wagon Gang is a result of 80 years of hope and harmony, faith and family.
The group began singing on local radio in 1935, and went on to play Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Grand Ole Opry.
“This group was designed for the ages,” says Marty Stuart. “For the eternal ages.”
Stuart penned each song on the Chuck Wagon Gang’s latest album, “Meeting in Heaven,” and he is among the choir of celebrated figures who praise the history, legacy, and contemporary relevance of the Chuck Wagon Gang.
On Columbia Records, the Chuck Wagon Gang became what WSM air personality, music historian, and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs calls, “America’s foremost country-gospel singers.” They sold millions of records and songbooks, enduring numerous personnel changes while retaining ties to the original quartet.
The group’s owner, manager, and alto singer, Shaye Smith, is the granddaughter of the Gang’s original alto, Anna Carter Gordon Davis, and Howard Gordon, who was the group’s guitarist for many years. Shaye was born in Nashville and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is married to Andy Smith, and they make their home in Hertford, North Carolina. They have three children, Ben, Noah, and Chloe.
Shaye holds two bachelor’s degrees in music (Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting), and she helps to arrange many of the Chuck Wagon Gang’s songs. Her background in musicals, operas, and choral and theater projects makes the stage a place of comfort and familiarity.
Shaye joined her great-uncle Roy and the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1993, as a soprano. Leading the Chuck Wagon Gang allows her to continue the legacy her grandmother and family began eighty years ago.
The group’s tenor singer, Stan Hill was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and one granddaughter.
“Some of my earliest and best memories are of my family gathered around the piano, singing a hymn while Mom played,” he says. “I also remember lying in bed at night, listening to an AM radio, when I was supposed to be sleeping."
“By singing with the Chuck Wagon Gang, I not only get to enjoy these great songs of faith, I also get to share in preserving the history and tradition of this style of music. God has truly given me the desires of my heart.”
Wyatt Austin was born and still resides in Morganton, North Carolina.
“I first heard the Chuck Wagon Gang when I was 12 years old and when I went to see them in a nearby town, I had no idea that God was unfolding His plan. I began collecting vinyl records and when I heard Jim Carter’s unique and harmonious voice, I began having the desire to sing bass. I feel so privileged and blessed to be a part of this legendary group. In this life, people have dreams and very seldom do they come true at a young age, but God in His goodness and grace has fulfilled my desire to serve Him,” he says.
Soprano Melissa Kemper is a native of Groveton, Texas, and she still resides there today, with her husband, Jamie, and children Weston, Brandon, and Alysse. Melissa sang soprano with the Chuck Wagon Gang between 2001 and 2006, then left the group to be with her children during their formative years. She re-joined the quartet in 2015.
“I am very happy that God has brought me back into the group after all these years,” she says. “I am truly blessed.”
The group's guitarist, Karl Smakula, was born in Kingwood and raised in Elkins, where he was steeped the central West Virginia region's rich tradition of old time and bluegrass music. He began playing mandolin and guitar at age 11 and took up banjo shortly thereafter, regularly performing in church and at square dances. He is a 2016 graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music. He was a member of both the Universities elite Bluegrass Pride and Country Pride bands, and has since traveled the United States performing with bluegrass, old time, and country artists.
Karl currently resides in Nashville, and enjoys running, hiking, and attending concerts in his free time.
The Pine Ridge Boys and Cory and Heather Wharton will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and the first sing of the summer closes out with The Dominion Trio, Kingsmen Quartet, and The Richter’s at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
All performances are held under the pavilion and a concession stand is available.
On site camping is available and you can reserve your spot now by calling 304-788-9354 or 304-209-9055.
Be sure to visit www.rollingacresmusicpark.com for the latest updates on the summer season.