The Black Hawk Valley Boys band performs on the stage for WOWO radio's 1940s "Hoosier Hop" radio show.
Musicians perform on stage for WOWO Radio's Hoosier Hop barn dance show.

 

Location: Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Dates: 1941, 1947, 1950
Formats: Lacquer disc and open reel tape
Accession Numbers: 80-102-F/B

Donald Lake (b. 1914) was an accordian player for the Blackhawk Valley Boys, a western swing band that toured the United States and performed on a syndicated radio program produced at WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, beginning in 1939. The Hoosier Hop radio show was like many of the barn dance radio programs of the time, the Grand Ole Opry being the best-known example. 

Debuting in 1932, the Hoosier Hop reflected the growing popularity of "hillbilly" music nationwide. The show continued on WOWO on and off for more than 15 years and in time was aired coast-to-coast on several different radio networks including NBC Blue (as indicated in the above photograph). The Hoosier Hop broadcast was so popular that it earned a "12" rating on the national network in 1935, a remarkable achievement for a "barn dance" program. By 1943 the weekly program had grown from a studio broadcast with a cast of 15 to performing in the city’s Shrine auditorium to a capacity crowd of over 4,000 with a cast of 30.

The Blackhawk Valley Boys first started their radio act in 1934 on radio station WROK out of Rockford, Illinois. The quartet soon found its way to WOWO where it was one of the featured acts on the Hoosier Hop. Due to World War II the personnel of the Blackhawk Valley Boys changed and at various times included Walter "Sleepy" Schultz, George Arthur, Glasgow "Pete" Fall, Dean Maxedon, James "Red" Bicknell, Penny West, and Glenn "Andy" Anderson, in addition to Donald "Ike" Lake. After the war Bicknell and Lake rejoined the quartet and the group enjoyed continued success. In 1949, however, with members desiring to pursue disparate paths, the quartet disbanded.

The 69 recordings in this collection were made by radio station engineers onto lacquer discs. The recordings have been digitally preserved by the Archives of Traditional Music as part of the Sound Directions Project and they showcase the superb musicianship of these midwestern musicians. Recordings in the collection include country, popular, folk, Christmas, hymns, and guitar, banjo and organ music. Among the other Hoosier Hop performers heard on these recordings are The Down Homers, Judy and Jen, known as "The Harmony Sisters," and Howard Ropa, billed as "Indiana's favorite baritone."

Sample 1: Hoosier Hop radio program introduction by cast, ca. 1940. OT 5879

Sample 2: Blackhawk Valley Boys musical intro