Branson’s Musical History: The Baldknobbers

The Baldknobbers Jamboree in Branson, Missouri, is really a history of music in Branson and the Ozarks. While the band doesn’t have washtubs or a jawbone anymore, the country music show that audiences enjoy each night adheres faithfully to the very beginnings of music in Branson and The Baldknobbers, Branson’s first show.

It was 1959 when four Mabe brothers started entertaining Branson visitors on Taneycomo’s lakefront. Most of the visitors had come for the fishing, and The Baldknobbers Jamboree was good family entertainment for the evening. Today in Branson the Baldknobbers still give fans the best in country classics, "hot" new country, Gospel tunes…and comedy.

Second- and third-generations of Mabes and a cast of 19 singers, musicians and comedians give enthusiastic audiences a high-energy, fast-paced show. "I believe our best quality is that we entertain everyone from the age of 2 to 92," says Tim Mabe, producer and comedian Droopy Drawers Jr. Indeed, kids and grandparents alike enjoy the variety of country music and laugh out loud at the antics and tales the comedians weave into the show.

The Baldknobbers took their name from the Ozarks vigilante group that met on the bald tops, or knobs, of mountains in the area in the late 1800’s. In the early days of their music, The Baldknobbers played during the intermission square dance the very first year of the Shepherd of the Hills outdoor drama, a story about that vigilante era in Branson.

At the Baldknobbers first shows, the instruments actually did include a washtub bass, washtub for rhythm, the jawbone of a mule instead of drums, as well as a dobro or flat-top guitar, and an acoustic guitar. Second-generation Brent Mabe, who plays guitar and bass in the show, remembers early days on the lakefront when he and his cousin Tim Mabe would earn 50 cents putting bumper stickers on cars and for a free Coke would do some cleanup. He says fans have told him, "I remember you playing ball in the parking lot, with a crushed-up soda cup."

It was 1968 when the Baldknobbers built their 1500-seat theater out on Highway 76 and Brent Mabe still remembers the "huge, empty building." It meant quitting day jobs and was a major decision for the group. But it was quite an improvement from 50 folding chairs in the theater on the lakefront.

Today, Tim Mabe is the producer of the show, but as Tim explains, "We don’t have a star, the show is our star and all 19 of us put our mark on this show. Many of the talented musicians and singers have been with the Baldknobbers for many years so our show is collaborative." About the 2009 show Tim says, "In addition to a fantastic show, we will have events all year long to mark this milestone in Branson’s entertainment history."

In 1959 The Baldknobbers sometimes performed for a crowd of just a dozen people. Today The Baldknobbers Jamboree is often a sellout, and entertainers give the same energy and enthusiasm and personal attention to their audiences as they did on the lakefront.

In 1959 The Baldknobbers Jamboree was the only show Branson. Today Branson is known as the Live Music Show Capital of the World, boasting more theater seats than Broadway. But some things never change. There’s still great fishing. And even more great music. Come help celebrate 50 years of entertainment in Branson, with The Baldknobbers Jamboree!

The Baldknobbers Jamboree Show-"The Show That Started It All"-is located on the famed 76 Country Music Boulevard in Branson, Missouri, with performances Monday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m..

This Press Release edited for and sponsored on this site by Branson Tourism Center. For additional information on this show, other Branson shows, accommodations, attractions, or other information on all that Branson has to offer please call 800-785-1550 or visit on line at