Leap Year Birthdays

Jimmy DorseyDinah Shore

Two noteworthy artists from the Big Band Era that had rare February 29th birthdays were Jimmy Dorsey and Dinah Shore.

Famous band leader Jimmy Dorsey was born on this day in 1904.  Vocalist Dinah Shore, who also later became a huge television personality, was born in 1916.  A rare Happy Birthday goes out to these two great performers.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Glenn Miller Month

Glenn Miller

The month of March is "Glenn Miller Month" on Swing City Radio.  We will be playing Glenn Miller songs every hour and diving deeper into his vast catalog of music.  The first week of Glenn Miller Month we will feature only Live Glenn Miller Performance on Live at 5.  I will also be posting some of my favorite Glenn Miller albums that I own up on the website along with articles and videos about the life of Glenn Miller.

Swing City Radio celebrates the March 1st birthday of Glenn Miller, a true icon of the Big Band Era.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan, was a very talented singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day", Holiday had a huge influence on jazz music and pop singing overall. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills.  She was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1915.

After a terrible childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond. She signed a recording contract with Brunswick Records in 1935. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Columbia and Decca. By the late 1940s, however, her life was filled with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, she performed at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems.

She was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950s with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall. Due to personal struggles and an altered voice, her final years were met with mixed reaction. She released her final album, Lady in Satin, in 1958. Billie Holiday died of cirrhosis in 1959.

God Bless the Child

Billie Holiday's life was so complex and so tragic at times that many books and movies have been made about her life.  One story that stands out to me is the circumstances and inspiration behind her classic song "God Bless the Child."

Holiday's mother Sadie Fagan, nicknamed "The Duchess", opened a restaurant called Mom Holiday's.  "It kept Mom busy and happy and stopped her from worrying and watching over me", Holiday said. Fagan began borrowing large amounts of money from Holiday to support the restaurant. Holiday obliged but soon fell on hard times herself due to personal troubles and addictions.  Billie later described the indecent to a reporter: "I needed some money one night and I knew Mom was sure to have some", she said. "So I walked in the restaurant like a stockholder and asked. Mom turned me down flat. She wouldn't give me a cent." The two argued, and Holiday shouted angrily, "God bless the child that's got his own", and stormed out. With Arthur Herzog, Jr., she wrote a song based on the lyric, "God Bless the Child", and added music.

"God Bless the Child" later became Holiday's most popular and most covered record. It reached number 25 on the charts in 1941 and was third in Billboard's songs of the year, selling over a million records.

You can hear a lot of Billie Holiday's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Command Performance

Bob Hope on Command Performance

Command Performance was a radio program produced exclusively for the U.S. troops and aired between 1942 and 1949. The program was broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Network (AFRS) and transmitted by shortwave to the troops overseas, it was not broadcast over domestic U.S. radio stations.  Most of the episodes were recorded before a live studio audience in the Vine Street Playhouse in Hollywood, California.

The basic theme of the program was that soldiers would send in requests for a particular performer or program to appear. They also suggested unusual ideas for music, sketches, or sounds from home on the program, for example: "Ann Miller tap dancing in military boots"; "a sigh from Carole Landis"; "foghorns on San Francisco Bay"; "Errol Flynn taking a shower"; "a slot machine delivering the jackpot" and "Bing Crosby mixing a bourbon and soda for Bob Hope". Top performers of the day appeared, including Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and The Andrews Sisters.

The first Command Performance was broadcast on March 1, 1942, almost exactly three months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Its success paved the way for the creation of the Armed Forces Radio Service in May 1942. Time magazine described Command Performance as being, "the best wartime program in America".  I'd have to agree with them.  It's ironic and a shame that very few listeners in the United States ever heard it because of it's exclusive distribution to the U.s. Troops around the world.  Variety Magazine also observed that “sometimes the language on these shows is just a little more robust than is passed by standard broadcasting stations. Jack Benny, as we recall, last Sunday night encouraged our fighting men to ‘give ’em hell.'”  Oh, that salty language of Jack Benny.  :)

The main reason that the show wasn't broadcast on domestic U.S. radio stations was that performers volunteered their talents for the program. In 1943, Tune In magazine estimated if "Presented by a commercial sponsor, Command Performance would have a weekly talent cost of $50,000."  Another reason was that performing and production unions waived their rules for the war effort on the condition that the shows were only broadcast to service personnel.

An episode of Command Performance generally ran for 30 minutes with the exception of holiday specials.  The program featured some great musical performances and entertainment that can only be found on these shows.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Swing City Radio T-Shirt

Show your support for your favorite Big Band and Swing Radio Station by ordering a Swing City Radio T-Shirt.  These T-Shirts are great!  Lots of different styles too.  Check them out!  Just click on the picture or links directly below.

Logo Shirts

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Charlie Spivak Soundie

Charlie Spivak

Here is a video of Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra performing "Hop, Skip and Jump."  This was released as a Soundie in the early 1940's.  Soundies were the original music videos, decades before MTV was even an idea.  But as you can see the formula for a music video has never seemed to change.  The band is featured doing some silly things while playing and of course there's beautiful women dancing along with the music.

Check out the goofy expression Charlie has in parts of the video.  He just didn't look too comfortable with the whole process. (Picture Below)

Also, wanted to give out a Happy Birthday to Charlie who would have turned the ripe old age of 115 on February 17th.  Spivak passed away in 1982.


Charlie Spivak

You can hear Charlie Spivak right here on Swing City Radio!

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

George T. Simon

George Simon

The Big Band Era was filled with colorful personalities, constant drama and most of all, incredible music.  George Simon (1912–2001), covered all of it as the editor-in-chief of Metronome (the most influential magazine to cover the Swing scene) from 1939 to 1955.  The books he later wrote about the era are, in my opinion, the best books that cover the era.

Simon was probably the most influential jazz commentator during the swing era. Thanks to his inside connections with the jazz world, he was able to report information about bands and their personnel with great accuracy. 

He was also an early drummer in the Glenn Miller Orchestra. George later became known for being the most comprehensive writer and resource on Glenn Miller and his band.

George Simon's brother was Richard L. Simon, the co-founder of the American publishing house Simon & Schuster.  One of his nieces, Carly Simon, later became a chart topping singer-songwriter.

I highly recommend reading his books to get a true feel for the era and it's music.  Here are three of them that I have in my collection: "The Big Bands" (1968), "Simon Says: The Sights and Sounds of the Big Band Era" (1971) and "Glenn Miller and His Orchestra" (1974).

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Happy Birthday Wingy

Picture of Wingy Manone

A happy birthday goes out to trumpeter and bandleader Wingy Manone.  Wingy was born Joseph Manone on February 13th, 1900.  Some of his more famous recordings included "Tar Paper Stomp", "Nickel in the Slot" and "Tailgate Ramble".

His nickname "Wingy" came from the fact that he lost his right arm in a streetcar accident in 1910.  He was only 10 years old.  He used a prosthesis arm so naturally that his disability was not even noticed by the public.

His song "Tar Paper Stomp" will always be remembered for his famous riff that was later used by Glenn Miller as the foundation riff for his mega hit "In the Mood."

Manone was a highly sought out musician who was frequently recruited for recording sessions. He even played on some early Benny Goodman records.  He also fronted various pickup groups under pseudonyms like "The Cellar Boys" and "Barbecue Joe and His Hot Dogs."

Wingy passed away in 1984 at the age of 84.

You can hear many of Wingy Manone's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Twice Blessed Dance Scene

Twice Blessed

Watch a great dance scene from the 1945 movie "Twice Blessed".  Twice Blessed was a comedy starring Preston Foster, Gail Patrick, and The Wilde Twins, Lee and Lyn Wilde.  More about the film below the video. Enjoy!


The plot of this film is that there are two identical twins (The Wilde Sisters) who have been split up since their parents divorce. Each envies the life style of the other so they decide to switch families for a day or two.  Hmmm...seems like Hollywood like this plot line and story and has used it many times over the years, huh.  The movie poster says it all!  "They're Babes in Arms Dancing, Romancing with the Joy of Life!" - I'm pretty sure if I was walking past that movie poster in 1945, I would have done a quick U-Turn into the theater.  

Twice Blessed Poster

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Judy Garland

Judy Garland on Swing City Radio

There has been a renewed interest in the life and career of Judy Garland due to the popularity of the movie "Judy".  Garland is played by actress Renee Zellweger.  I haven't seen the movie yet but have heard great things about it.

Judy Garland (1922-1969) is remembered by most as an Award Winning Actress and for starring roles in classic films like The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born.  She was also a very influential vocalist during the Big Band Era singing with some of the biggest names of the time.  She made many record-breaking concert appearances and released eight studio albums.

Judy Garland was born as Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922.  [Great name huh?  Surprised that it was changed as she got older. :) ]  She began performing in vaudeville at a very young age.  Her history as an actress is well documented.  Her role as Dorthy Gale in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" cemented her as movie icon of the Golden Age of Movies.

Garland, of course, had many musical soundtrack hits to her credit but also had many hits for Decca Records during the 1930's and 1940's. [She later recorded for both the Columbia and Capitol labels as well.]  She made many recordings with orchestras led by Bob Crosby, Harry Sosnik, Victor Young, Bobby Sherwood and David Rose to name a few.  Judy shared the vocals in duets with such names as Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer and the Merry Macs.

You can hear many Judy Garland songs right here on Swing City Radio.  If you've seen the move "Judy" let us know your thoughts by posting comments on our Facebook page.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Ina Ray Hutton: Girl Time

Ina Ray Hutton

Watch Ina Ray Hutton lead one of her "All Girl" Orchestras in the short film "Girl Time."  I believe this is from 1947.  There is also a bunch of variety acts featured in this video as well. Enjoy.


Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Watch Video of Chattanooga Choo Choo

Chattanooga Choo Choo

The video below is Chattanooga Choo Choo performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra from the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade."  This is my favorite version of the song, though there are a few live versions that I would rank at the top of my list as well.  Enjoy!



Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Tell Your Friends

Swing City Radio

I hope you have been enjoying the music we've been playing on Swing City Radio.  Can I ask you a favor?  A small one that will only take a couple minutes of your time.  Can you help me get the word out about the station?  I'd really appreciate if you told your friends and family that you are listening to this great station that plays a great selection of Big Band music.

Another easy way to help me spread the word is by posting it on your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest accounts.  You can post one of the interesting articles we have on the website or you can simply click on one of the buttons below to post a generic message about Swing City Radio.

Thank you so much!  ...and thank you for listening to Swing City Radio!

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Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

V-Discs

V-Disc

V-Disc was a record label that was formed in 1943 to provide records for U.S. military personnel. Captain Robert Vincent supervised the label from the Special Services division. The "V" stood for Victory.

The label was a morale-boosting initiative involving the production of recordings during World War II by arrangement between the U.S. government and record companies. Many popular big bands and singers recorded V-discs for the troops. The name referred to both the label and the discs themselves, which were produced from October 1943 to May 1949.

The V-Disc project began in June 1941, six months before the United States' entered World War II. It was suggested the troops might appreciate a series of records that could motivate soldiers and improve morale. By 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) was sending discs to U.S. troops around the world from concerts, recitals, radio broadcasts, film soundtracks, special recording sessions, and previously issued commercial records.

At this time in history the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) were involved in the 1942–44 musicians' strike in which there was a recording ban on four companies. In 1943 the men behind V-Disc convinced the striking AFM to allow the union's musicians to make records for the military as long as the discs were not sold and the masters were disposed of. Musicians who had contracts with different record labels were now able to record together for this project. The result of this was a collection of fantastic music. The program started for the Army, but soon music was provided for the Navy and Marines.

The V-Discs were a hit. Soldiers who were tired of hearing the same old records were treated to new and special releases from the top musical performers of the day. The selection included big band hits, swing music, and other entertainment. Radio networks sent air checks and live feeds to V-Disc headquarters in New York. Movie studios sent rehearsal feeds from the latest Hollywood motion pictures to V-Disc. Musicians gathered at V-Disc recording sessions in New York City and Los Angeles. V-Discs were pressed by labels such as RCA Victor and Columbia.  It was a great example of teamwork to provide a "piece of home" for the brave soldiers fighting around the world.

Many V-Discs contained spoken-word introductions by bandleaders and musicians wishing good luck and prayers for the soldiers. Glenn Miller in December 1943, introduced a record by saying, "This is Captain Glenn Miller speaking for the Army Air Force's Training Command Orchestra and we hope that you soldiers of the Allied forces enjoy these V-Discs that we're making just for you."

The V-Disc program ended in 1949. Audio masters and stampers were destroyed. Leftover V-Discs at bases and on ships were discarded. On some occasions, the FBI and the Provost Marshal's Office confiscated and destroyed V-Discs that servicemen had smuggled home. An employee at a Los Angeles record company served a prison sentence for the illegal possession of over 2500 V-Discs.  The Library of Congress has a complete set of V-Discs.

The V-Disc Project will always be remembered for providing some of the most unique and entertaining musical performances from the Big Band Era.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

List of Big Bands and Performers

Swing City Radio

Swing City Radio plays artists and performers from the Big Band and Swing Era of the 1930's and 1940's and Modern Swing artists from today.  We are constantly enhancing our playlists to keep our programming fresh, enjoyable and entertaining for our Big Band and Swing listening audience.  (You are the best audience in the world by the way!)

Below please find a partial list of the artists we play on Swing City Radio.  We've included a short bio along with a Wikipedia link so you can learn more about your favorite artists.  If you ever feel we should include an artist you haven't been hearing on our station, then please email us a request.

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