Music: House at Pooh Corner

Da Billy Club

End of an Era

When this fan site started in 1998, we never suspected that on September 9, 2001 we'd be seeing the FINAL SHOW of Disneyland performers we'd known and loved for years, and even come to think of as friends. We'd seen them at various locations, including The Golden Horseshoe, and never thought we'd be reporting that their show would no longer be seen at Disneyland.

As the red curtain closed for the last time, we were saddened, but knew we'd have our photographs and possibly a page on to remind us of some of our favorite strummin' pickin' bowin' singers and comedians,

The familiar red curtain

The Country Bears

Normally these pages are reserved for Billy and the Hillbillies. However, we've seen the Country Bears' shows since we were young, and they were our favorite band until Billy Hill and the Hillbillies came along. We've always found the Bears to be remarkably consistent performers.

Popular with most Disneyland cast members, the Bears are particularly tight with Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. They met over a decade ago, when both bands were performing in Critter Country, and soon realized they were kindred spirits
The Hillbillies attended the Country Bears' show regularly, learning such songs as Rocky Top and Thank God I'm a Country Boy from the Bears.

The Bears didn't often attend the Billy and the Hillbillies show, not wanting to frighten the audience away. However they did go a few times, once at the DBC's request as shown on another page of this site. So, after the last Hillbilly show for the day, we went to see the Country Bears.
Henry, one of the original cast members
Our Emcee, Henry

Before starting the show, Henry announced that this was the Country Bears' final Vacation Hoe Down performance at Disneyland.
The Bears had played three shows an hour, seven days a week since March 24, 1972. Though the roles of Beulah, Bonnie and Bubbles went up for audition every couple of years, many of the performers, including Henry and and Teddy Bearra, were original cast members.
Teddy Bearra, lovely as ever at 58
Click for larger view
Teddy Bearra, still swinging at 58
On with the show, which started out as good as usual until Henry decided the Jingle Bells bit on the piano needed fixing and asked "Is there a musician in the house?"

The spotlight panned the audience, finally resting on a young man with a stringed instrument in his lap. Henry was so excited. "Well, hey there! It's our good friend, Billy. Would you help us out by getting up there and finding Elmer a better tune?"

Billy was happy to oblige, and handed Elmer several sheets of music he just "happened" to have with him.
Elmer and Billy  do a duet
All photos with colored borders, can be clicked for a bigger view.

Elmer and Billy nearly brought the house down with their duet of a bit of Sonata in C Major, arranged by Evan Marshall for Mandolin and Piano. The DBC had heard a similar piece, for VIOLIN and piano at a private concert. (No, Elmer DIDN'T play it nearly as well as Margaret.)
The show continued normaly enough until the Bear's Elvis impersonator began to sing. That's when Wendel came out with his old-fashioned flash camera. He was just about to take a picture when his camera was blocked by a fiddle belonging to Billy!
Billy saves Wendel from committing the sin of flash photography

And that means you, Wendel
"Elvis" Bear thanked Billy for his heroic save, then said, "I see you have sideburns. No point wasting them." and invited Blly to join him on We can make it to the top.
"Elvis"  Billy and "Elvis" Bear

There are two of them, so the proper term is "Elvi".

Billy gave it a more lively presentation.
When the main band came out, Fred announced he'd been practicing speed fiddling since Billy bested him at the Bears' Golden Horseshoe visit. Now he was ready, and challenged Billy to an Orange Blosson Special speed fiddlin' contest

You should have seen the look on.....
No, you CAN see the look on Fred's face.
Surprised to be out speed fiddled AGAIN
SURPRISE, Billy does it again.
Billy had been practicing too, and beat the bears hands, er, PAWS down, proving he's still the fastest speed fiddler in Frontierland and its environs.
All too soon it was time for the grand finale, Thank God I'm a Country Boy.
Thank God I'm a Country boieeeeeee
Country Boy Rap

Billy joined in, showing the Bears how he'd updated the country song to Rap to keep it fresh.
Anybody need another fiddler?
Billy stood by, fiddle reaady, in case anyone asked HIM to play.

It was the best Country Bears show ever. But then it was time for...
Curtain closes for the very last time
final curtain.

Some of the Country Bears were outside after the show talking to the fans and saying their goodbyes.

Why are they leaving? Rumor has it their theater building may be used for a Winnie the Pooh ride. The Bears' thoughts? "At least it's a fellow bear."

Though they won't be playing here any more they're confident they'll find a new gig soon. Fred told us "We're going to audition for Disney's California Adventure. After all, what's more Californian than a bunch of California Black Bears? Then we hear the Chinese use a lot of seasonings, so maybe the new Disneyland China will need some well-seasoned bears."

We asked about their short-term plans. "We're going to the Superbowl!"
Bye bye, Bears
Bye bye, Bears.

Updated October 7, 2001

Da Billy Club

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Fine print: All photographs on this webpage ©" 2001 and are not to be used for commercial purposes or on other web sites without permission. For the record, the Hillbillies joined the Country Bears that day only in this webspinner's imagination. Da Billy Club is not administered by Billy and the Hillbillies and doesn't necessarily reflect their views.