Chuck Wagon Gang coming to Boonville

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

BOONVILLE — The four original members of the Chuck Wagon Gang may not have known what a legacy and tradition they started when D.P. “Dad” Carter formed the musical group in 1935. Nearly 81 years later, the group is going strong and still sharing a message of inspiration with others.

Shaye Smith, owner, manager and alto for the group, is the granddaughter of original alto Anna “Effie” Carter and Howard Gordon, who played guitar for the group in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the group’s 80 years, she said whether managing or singing, the family has always had someone involved in the Chuck Wagon Gang.

On Friday at 7 p.m., the group will share its music and message at Charity Baptist Church, 1500 Charity Church Road, Boonville. This is the fifth year the group has performed at the Yadkin County church. The concert is free, but a love offering will be accepted.

Smith said she joined the group when she was a music major with two degrees and a love of singing. “I didn’t really understand what it was,” she said of the legacy and tradition of the group. “I got involved and began learning the history of the group.

“It’s being able to be in a ministry where you’re being able to do what you love to do, being a musician and singing, and it’s impacting people’s lives and encouraging folks,” Smith said. “It’s very rewarding knowing you’re doing something that encourages people.”

In 80 years, the Chuck Wagon Gang went from singing on the local radio to playing Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the Grand Ole Opry.

Today, Chuck Wagon Gang members include Smith as alto, Stan Hill as tenor, Wyatt Austin as bass, Melissa Kemper as soprano, Karl Smakula as guitarist, Penny Shelnut as booking agent and Justin Owens as social media manager.

For more information about the Chuck Wagon Gang, visit

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood