Jewell, director for the Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree, and DJ Casey Strong rehearse for the Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium. The Jamboree was a showcase for Louisiana Hayride artists and Grand Ole Opry stars and played an important part in launching the careers of several local artists such as singer Jeanette Hicks and steel guitarist Jim Evans.
Jewell jotted down an appointment to meet with recording artist Eddy Arnold at Texarkana’s Grim Hotel, using a prescription form from pads Charles had saved after the death of his grandfather, Dr. Charles Hale of Boswell, Oklahoma.
Son David’s first day of school was camera-worthy at Jewell and Charles’ house on 17th Street in Texarkana – a modest frame house that was well-known to Country artists who came to work on songs with Jewell, jam together in the living room and plan shows.
Jewell reveled in Country music shows. Her Hayride connections, especially her buddies Tillman Franks and Horace Logan, taught her how to book and produce them.
A regular responsibility of Hayride artists and their bands involved playing frequent appearances in towns throughout Louisiana, Texas and into Arkansas.
Jewell began booking them in Texarkana venues ranging from the Twin Cities’ Arkansas Municipal Auditorium to schools and ball parks. Her connections with Hayride stars who had become Opry stars opened the way for her to build strong relationships with other Opry stars. Meanwhile, her songwriting successes had led to work for Nashville’s leading music publishing houses.
All of that made it possible for her to book Grand Ole Opry artists for shows in Texarkana where civic leaders had called on Jewell to produce Country music shows as fundraisers. In 1952, they asked her to help set up an ongoing, weekly non-profit show sponsored by the Texarkana Athletic Commission. Profits benefited the kid baseball program and other local youth activities.
Jewell shouldered the director job and was given “full charge of all amateur and professional talent to appear on future shows,” according to a Texarkana Gazette article that noted, “Mrs. House … has extensive contacts in the hillbilly music field. … The athletic commission offered Mrs. House the (director) title in recognition for valuable help which she has given the commission in lining up … shows in the past,”
Jewell named the weekly show the Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree and wrote the theme song, Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree, that opened and closed each production.
She began weekly auditions for local talent and produced a pilot show in November 1952 with Louisiana Hayride artists and local talent playing to a standing-room-only house in the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium.
The inaugural performance followed in February 1953, featuring a slate of Hayride artists, including Red Sovine and the Carlisles. Jewell hired a local DJ, Casey Strong, to emcee the show, preferring to remain in the wings and go onstage for a quick Q&A with Strong.
By spring, the show had “rapidly grown in stature,” the Texarkana Gazette reported in a May 17, 1953, feature. “Such name stars as Ernest Tubb, Moon Mullican and Hank Snow are just a few of many standing hillbilly personalities which have been booked in weeks.”
Jim Reeves, who was riding high with his hit, Mexican Joe, “will be the star of next Friday night’s (Jamboree) …. A strong cast of supporting talent from Texarkana and the Four States Area will also be on the show,” the article said, listing local talent such as Jeanette Hicks, The Grant Brothers, The Circle J Ranch Boys, Al Deaton, Betty Choate, Leroy Steib, Amando Zamora and Ray Keenum.
Jewell, a matchmaker for talent and managers, introduced Hicks to Tillman Franks that night. He saw and heard Hicks’ potential and introduced her to Horace Logan who soon signed her to a Hayride contract that led to a stellar career for Hicks.
Jewell ran the Hayloft Jamboree for more than a year as it became a Hayride farm club for local talent. Items from Billboard, then the entertainment industry’s premiere news outlet, provide a sampling of Jewell’s activity and the stars she booked for delighted crowds:
On May 16, 1953, Billboard’'s “Folk Talent and Tunes” roundup column reported on Page 39: “Jewell House, head of Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree, was in Nashville last week-end booking ‘Opry’ artists for her Friday Nighter. In addition to current duties, she takes over local record shop and arcade May 15 under the name Jewel’s (sic) Record Shop & Fun House …”
Billboard’'s June 13, 1953, “Folk Talent and Tunes” column reported on Page 39: “Jewel (sic) House’s ‘Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree’ starring Ernest Tubb at Spring Lake Park June 5 with Moon Mullican coming in June 19, Tommy Sosebee July 3, and Hank Snow July 17. Benny Woods does local emsee (sic) honors on the Friday nighters … .”
On Oct. 10, 1953, the Billboard column on reported on Page 45: “Jim Reeves and Johnny Horton set to headline ‘Louisiana Hayride’ cast in Texarkana, Tex., October 9, with Jewell House booking ….”