Charlie Tenan, longtime host of “Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree” on WVII-7 ABC, passed away Thursday, Nov. 8 in Cherryfield. He was 81.
Tenan hosted the Jamboree in its many incarnations for more than 20 years. It started as “Frankenstein’s County Jamboree” in 1963, before switching to simply the “Country Jamboree” in 1969. In 1973, Brewer entrepreneur Dick Stacey took over sole sponsorship, and “Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree” remained a local hit for 11 more years, until it ended its regular run in 1984. Reunion shows happened sporadically for the next few decades; the last reunion shows were in the summer of 2010 at the Bangor State Fair, and in Calais in the summer of 2011.
A generation of Eastern Maine and Canadian Maritime country music fans grew up on the show, which hosted amateur musicians from the entire region. Tenan corralled the musicians for the 21 years he hosted the show, and after it went off-air he continued to perform country music around Maine. He was also a town selectman for Cherryfield for more than 30 years.
In a Nov. 7, 2000 Bangor Daily News article, Bangor area broadcaster Pat LaMarche recalled watching the Jamboree as a teenager growing up in Bangor.
“There were no auditions, and you didn’t have to be good,” LaMarche said. “You just had to want to go out and entertain people. Charlie‘s only rules were that you had to be sincere and sober.”
Tenan himself commented in an Aug. 10, 2010 Bangor Daily News article that his show was a standard-bearer for country music in Maine.
The music “kind of represented Down East Maine. This was about the last frontier of country music [in Maine],” Tenan said. Getting together to jam at house parties was a favorite form of entertainment “way back in the radio days” before television and computers took over, he said.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “It weren’t for the money. I liked meeting people and we had a lot of fun, before, during and after shows. I met millions of nice, nice people.”
A funeral service for Charlie Tenan will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at Cherryfield Elementary School, 85 School St., Cherryfield. Arrangements by Bragdon-Kelley Funeral. Homes, Milbridge.