Tag Archives: dance bands

JACK LOVED DANCE MUSIC (1933)

It looks like an old book. It is.
The book’s owner.

We believe that everything is knowable. After all, we have Google.

This post is about a ninety-year old artifact that pretends to offer up all its secrets. The oddly appropriate cliche is that it is “an open book,” but its secrets are hidden.

I can’t figure out whether the owner’s name is “Jack E. DuTemple” or “D. Temple,” and no online map turns up a Robert Street; rather, I get sent to Roberts. I never met Jack, but I have faith that he knew where he lived. The last entries in this book are dated Christmas 1933, so that is clear.

THIS JUST IN, thanks to Master Sleuth David Fletcher:

John E. “Jack” Detemple, 1908-1968. Because you knew I would… 🙂
Jack worked in a Binghamton shoe factory along with his dad. Thank God he was a music nut! He ended up in Sidney NY, a longtime Mason and a machinist for Bendix Corp. Several kids– no doubt one of them treasured Dad’s autograph book (and maybe his old records too).

Here is a tour of the music Jack heard in 1933.

Zez Confrey
Henry Biagini
Don Bestor
Rudy Vallee
Fred Waring
Whitey Kaufman
Ace Brigode
“Red” Nichols
Ramona
Paul Whiteman
Kay Kyser
Johnny Johnson
Jack Pettis
Pauline Wright
Bert Lown
Ernie Holst
Todd Rollins
Peggy Healy
Jack Fulton
Eddie Lane
Gene Kardos
Ray Noble
Abe Lyman
Joe Venuti
Dick Fidler (?)
Larry Funk
Happy Felton
Mal Hallett
Doc Peyton
Claude Hopkins
Art Kassel
Charley Davis
a closing cartoon, perhaps of Jack himself.

Ten miles north of the Pennsylvania border, Johnson City, New York is not a metropolis; 15,174 population in the 2010 census. But obviously dance bands came through towns of that size: in 1933, there were more ballrooms and “dance halls” for bands of all kinds. And Jack seems to have been a happily avid listener and perhaps dancer, enjoying both hot and sweet sounds, Black and White groups, famous and less so. The autograph book speaks to his enthusiasm, but also to the variety of live music available to audiences in the Depression. Yes, there was unemployment and breadlines, but there were also men and women making music all over the country, and creating it for actual audiences . . . not people staring into lit screens. I would say flippantly that we have more but they had better.

And “provenance.” I’ve had this book for about ten years. It was a gift from my dear friend and inspiration Mike Burgevin, who found it in an upstate New York antique shop, bought it, and saved it for me, knowing that some day I would share it on the blog. For this and so many other kindnesses I bless him.

My photographic captures are admittedly amateur, but, then again, JAZZ LIVES is not a high-level auction house.

So now you can see how the fabled Jack Pettis signed his name. Hardly a common sight. And perhaps some reader can tell us more about Dick Fidler (?) and Pauline Wright. Google has let me down, which returns me to my original thought: da capo al fine. But energetic readers of JAZZ LIVES now have many more sweet and hot rabbits to chase.

May your happiness increase!

THREE INVITATIONS TO THE DANCE

“May I have the next dance, Miss?”  

“You sweet thing.  Care for a twirl around the floor?”  

The first artifact is something most of us have never seen in actuality — a magic-lantern slide, which I assume was slid in front of the projector in a Twenties movie theatre so that the image would fill the screen (much quieter than contemporary advertising in movie theatres).  I find the homegrown calligraphy so very endearing.

Here’s the front:

HUSK O'HARA Sat. Aug. 26

 

and the reverse:

HUSK reverse

It’s also very cheering that the invitation includes listeners (me) as well as dancers (my dream self).

I know something, but not much, about Anderson Husk O’Hare.  He didn’t play but he booked bands under his own name, ensembles that varied in interest.  (I think of the great musicians who played for Lester Lanin in this century.)

Various hot Chicagoans played in his orchestras, but I can’t say for sure that the band at Toddle Grove had Tesch, Tough, Lanigan, Stacy, or any other heroes in it.  Looking at a perpetual calendar, I think that Saturday, August 26, was either 1921 or 1927, and I am hoping it was the latter.

Tom Lord lists only Gennett sessions made in 1922, with no definite personnel. So you’re on your own as far as imagining how the band sounded that Saturday night. As far as Toddle Grove itself, it seems to have been a dance hall in Lemont, Illinois, and there is an ad in the 1924 Blue Island Sun for it.  But the rest is up to you.

The second piece of terpsichorean eBay evidence is easier to decipher, although perhaps less tempting to some as a result: a paper flyer from 1947 for an upstate New York dance palace:

PINE POINT 1947 schedule

It’s summer at the lake.  Hear the band, the sounds of the saxophone section drifting out over the water.

This reminds us, once again, that the bands travelled everywhere, not just to major cities, during the Swing Era.  What is most interesting to me  is the flexible pricing: I would expect that a local band would be a dollar ticket, but that Buddy Rich would not.  Maybe they were less interested in drumming in Newburgh?

Neither of these two advertisements is sufficiently motivating for me to find the shelf where my Capezios are, or to go back to Robin (my former ballroom dance instructor) for more lessons, but they remind us of a time when hot music was very much part of popular entertainment.

Since this has been a purely visual post, how about some dance music — from 1937, in the middle of things.  Fellow named Goodman.  Don’t know about him, much:

May your happiness increase!