Alvino Rey

Picture of Alvino Ray

Alvino Rey was born Alvin McBurney.  He was an underrated band leader and fantastic steel guitarist.

From 1932–1938 he served as a member of Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights. Alvino drew a lot of attention to himself and the band when he started playing pedal steel guitar. Later on down the road, the Gibson corporation asked him to develop a pickup for the guitar since Alvino also had a background in electronics.

In 1937, he married Louise King of the King Sisters and two years later formed his own band along with the other King Sisters. In my opinion, this was the period that produced Alvino's most noteable music.

In 1941, Alvino Rey released "I Said No!" featuring Yvonne King on lead vocals.  Excellent song!  Yvonne's voice just melts your soul.  In 1942, the band released "Idaho" and their version of "Deep in the Heart of Texas," which was a big hit.

Audio Recording of "I Said No!" by Alvino Rey

In the 1990s, Alvino, still with his wife Louise King (they were married until her death in 1997 - that's 60 years of marriage), moved to Utah.  Rey passed away in 2004 at the ripe old age of 94.

You can hear Alvino Rey 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! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Doris Day

Doris Day

Doris Day began her career as a big band singer with Barney Rapp and His Orchestra in 1939 and later moved on to achieve commercial success with Les Brown and His Band of Renown.  In 1945, she had two No. 1 recordings, "Sentimental Journey" and "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" with Les Brown.  Day eventually left Brown's band to embark on a solo career and recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967.

Audio Recording of "Sentimental Journey" with Doris Day on Vocals

Doris Day was born with the less marketable name of Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff.  While working with Barney Rapp he suggested she adopt the stage surname "Day" because he felt that "Kappelhoff" was too long for marquees.  She had singing stints with bandleaders Jimmy James and Bob Crosby and settled in with Les Brown where she found huge success.  Her hit recording, "Sentimental Journey", became an anthem of the desire of World War II troops to return home after the war.  Les Brown had once paid her a huge compliment by stating that, "As a singer, Doris belongs in the company of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra."

Doris Day

Day went on to have a successful film career as well.  By the early 1960's Doris had become one of the biggest film stars in Hollywood.  She later starred in her own sitcom on television, "The Doris Day Show," which ran from 1968 to 1973.

You can hear many of Doris Day'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.

Swingadelic: "Bluesville"

Picture of Swingadelic Bluesville

Swingadelic celebrated their 22nd Anniversary this May with the release of their 8th album, “Bluesville”.  The new release features the single "The Late, Late Show" which you can hear right here on Swing City Radio.  Swingadelic continues to showcase their versatility on “Bluesville” with large ensemble versions of tunes by Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Muddy Waters, Mose Allison, Count Basie and other artists.

You can purchase their new album at:
https://swingadelic.bandcamp.com/album/bluesville

About Swingadelic

Swingadelic - based in Hoboken, New Jersey - began in 1998 as the neo-swing movement was cresting. Upright bassist Dave Post gathered his jazz & blues playing friends together to play engagements at New York City's Supper Club, Swing 46 and Windows On The World, the former restaurant atop of the World Trade Center. As the swing scene waned the band was able to turn to swing dance groups, concerts, festivals, schools and private engagements to keep active.

The band plays about 100 dates per year and has traveled from Maine to Atlanta. Swingadelic has maintained a residency for eight years at Swing 46 in NYC where it performs every other Monday as a ten piece "little big band."

Listen to Audio of  "The Late, Late Show" by Swingadelic

Swingadelic has eight CDs and has been recording for the ZOHO Music label since 2011. Swingadelic CDs have been in the JazzWeek Radio charts top thirty and garnered many critically acclaimed reviews in jazz publications such as Jazz Times and All About Jazz.

Learn more about Swingadelic by visiting their website at: www.swingadelic.com

You can hear Swingadelic on The Modern Block which airs every weekday on Swing City Radio at 3pm EST.

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.

Podcast: Episode 17

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 17: Tiskets and Taskets

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Hey there People of Swing! This episode features some great tracks from Benny Goodman, Will Bradley, Charlie Barnet, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. We also listen in on an old radio performance by Glen Gray from April of 1944. You will also learn where to send your letters to the makers of Lava Soap.

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.

History of Record Albums

78 Record out of its album sleeve

Have you ever wondered where the term "Record Album" came from?

Originally, 78 rpm records were normally sold individually in brown paper or cardboard sleeves that were plain, or sometimes printed to show the producer or the retailer's name. They were extremely generic.  Just imagine great musical works packaged in plain thin cardboard, not very pleasing to the eye, huh.  Generally the sleeves had a circular cut-out exposing the record label to view. Records could be laid on a shelf horizontally (not recommended) or stood on an edge, but because of their fragility, breakage was common.  As 78s became more popular it became clear that something needed to be done to make storage more safe, consistent and reliable.

We can thank Germany for the idea of the "album."  The German record company Odeon pioneered the album in 1909 when it released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package.  Deutsche Grammophon had also produced an album for its complete recording of the opera Carmen around the same time.  For the first time, a collection of music was packaged together for easier storage and organization.

Record Album Cover
Generic Record Album Cover
By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records (the term "record album" was printed on some covers). These albums came in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes.  In most cases, the inside cover provided an index area to write down information about the recording as well as where the record was located within the album. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, safely suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them.

Record Album Index
Record Album Showing Index
In the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight tunes per album. When the 12-inch vinyl LP era began in 1948, each disc could hold a similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, so they were still referred to as an "album", as they are today.

Glenn Miller Record Album
Glenn Miller Record Album Containing 78s
To learn more about this I encourage you to read the Wikipedia article on The Phonograph Record.

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.

Vera Lynn Dies at the Age of 103

Pic of Vera Lynn

Sadly, one of the few remaining icons from the Big Band Era passed June 18, 2020.

Vera Lynn, the British female vocalist whose touching songs helped lift the spirits of countless British citizens and soldiers during WWII, died today at the age of 103.  Lynn is most remembered by songs like "We'll Meet Again," from 1939 and "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover," released in 1941. She affectionately became known in England as the ‘Forces Sweetheart.’

She remained popular after the end of the war, releasing music, appearing in films and continued performing live.

Vera Lynn also touched the lives of many through her charities, including several that support ex-service personnel and others concerned with polio, breast cancer, blindness and cerebral palsy.

Audio Recording of Vera Lynn singing "We'll Meet Again"

Just this past April, The Queen of England invoked the spirit of the song "We Will Meet Again" as she addressed a nation in coronavirus lockdown by assuring Britons “We will meet again”. The Queen's statement echoed Lynn’s own message she made to fans in March saying: “In these uncertain times, I am taken back to my time during World War II, when we all pulled together and looked after each other. It is this spirit that we all need to find again to weather the storm of the coronavirus.”

Picture of Vera Lynn
Vera Lynn: March 20, 1917 - June 18, 2020
Rest in Peace.

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.

Podcast: Episode 16

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 16: Shaw, Cootie and Krinkles

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Hey there Swingers! This episode features music by Cee Pee Johnson, Cootie Williams, Don Redman, Dorothy Dandridge and Harry James. We also listen to a great live radio performance by Artie Shaw from 1945. If you have a clown phobia, then proceed with caution.

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.

Just Like Heaven

Natalie Angst

Glenn Miller was famous for his "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue" medleys.  Well, Glenn would have proud of this "Something New" version of "Just Like Heaven" performed by The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra.  "Just Like Heaven" is a song from the late 80's by an alternative rock band named The Cure.  (I was a big Cure fan growing up and have seen them in concert many times!)  I simply love this cover since and I'm quite a fan of the original as well. As much as I have listened to this song in the past, I never imagined how it could be converted into a Big Band style. I think I like this version better than the original now.  :)

Video of  The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra performing "Just Like Heaven"

The lead vocals are handled by the magical voice of Natalie Angst and the orchestra is directed by Nick Hilscher.  Nick has been doing a fantastic job directing the Glenn Miller Orchestra for years now.  Give it a listen!  I've included the video below.

The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra is constantly touring and I encourage you to go out and see them live!  It's a great show and the band is very tight.

Enjoy!

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - 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.

Audio from V-Disc No. 451 featuring the reuniting of the Dorsey Brothers in 1945

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.

Don Redman

Picture of Don Redman

Don Redman was a talented musician of many instruments, as well as an innovative arranger and bandleader during the Big Band Era.

Redman was born in West Virginia. His father was a music teacher and his mother was a singer. Don began playing the trumpet at the age of three and joined his first band at the age of six. Think about that! Six years old and in a band! By the age of 12, Redman was proficient on all wind instruments ranging from trumpet to oboe as well and could even play piano.

In 1923, Redman joined the Fletcher Henderson orchestra, mostly playing clarinet and saxophones.  With Fletcher Henderson's band he began writing arrangements. Redman was very influential in establishing the sound that was to become swing.

In 1927, he joined McKinney's Cotton Pickers as their musical director and leader. He was responsible for their great success and arranged over half of their music selection.

Redman then formed the Don Redman Orchestra in 1931. They got a residency at the famous Manhattan jazz club Connie's Inn.  That year Redman also signed with Brunswick Records. The Brunswick records Redman made between 1931–1934 were some of the most complex pre-swing hot jazz arrangements of popular tunes.

Audio of Don Redman and His Orchestra performing "Lazybones"

The band hopped from label to label until 1940 when Redman disbanded the orchestra.  At that point in his career he concentrated on freelance work writing arrangements. Some of his arrangements became hits for Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Harry James. In the 1950's he was the music director for singer Pearl Bailey.

You can hear Don Redman 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.

Podcast: Episode 15

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 15: Kyser, Kirk and Long Distance Calls


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Hello Swingers and Swingettes! In this episode you will hear music by Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy, Kay Kyser and Raymond Scott. We listen to a fantastic recording of a Glenn Miller Radio Remote from 1939 and we also learn the importance of calling ahead, long distance.

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.

Artie Shaw

Picture of Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw (1910 – 2004) was a clarinetist and bandleader.   Widely regarded as one of the big band era's finest clarinetists, Shaw led one of the most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his recording of "Begin the Beguine" in 1938. Shaw also recorded with small jazz groups drawn from within the ranks of the various big bands he led. He served in the US Navy from 1942 to 1944. He remained a force in popular music and jazz before retiring from music completely in 1954.  At that point in his life he focused on writing books and pursued his interests in mathematics.

Artie Shaw started his music career in the early 1920's.  From 1925–36, Shaw performed with many bands and orchestras; from 1926 to 1929, he worked in Cleveland and established a lasting reputation as music director and arranger for an orchestra led by the Austin Wylie. In 1929 and 1930, he played with Irving Aaronson's Commanders.  In 1932, Shaw joined the Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra and made several recordings on of which was "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)".

In the mid 1930's Shaw formed his first big bands.  During the swing era, his big bands were popular with hits like "Begin the Beguine", "Stardust","Back Bay Shuffle", "Moonglow", "Rosalie" and "Frenesi". Shaw was also known for uncovering incredible talent.  In addition to hiring Buddy Rich, he signed Billie Holiday as his band's vocalist in 1938, becoming the first white band leader to hire a full-time black female singer to tour the Southern United States which was still segregated at that time.

Audio of: Artie Shaw and His Orchestra - "Begin the Beguine"

Similar to Benny Goodman, and other leaders of big bands, Shaw put together a smaller "band within the band" in 1940.  He named it Artie Shaw and the Gramercy Five after his home telephone exchange. The original Gramercy Five pressed eight records, then Shaw dissolved the band in early 1941.

Throughout his career, Shaw had a habit of forming bands, developing them according to his immediate aspirations, making a quick series of records, and then breaking them up.

Shaw did many big band remote broadcasts. Throughout the autumn and winter of 1938, he was often heard from the Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln in New York. After touring in 1939, he led the house band at the Cafe Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York.

A self-proclaimed "very difficult man", Shaw was married eight times.

You can hear the music of Artie Shaw 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.

Marion Hutton

Marion Hutton

Marion Hutton was a singer and actress but is best known as a female vocalist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. She was also the older sister of Betty Hutton.

Marion and Betty Hutton were raised in Battle Creek, Michigan. The sisters' father abandoned the family when they were both young forcing their mother to work a variety of jobs to support the family until she became a successful bootlegger. Marion Hutton was eventually discovered by Glenn Miller and was invited to join the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1938. She was still only 17, so Glenn and Helen Miller became her legal guardians so she would be able to sing and perform in the nightclubs where the band played.  Marion had been quoted in interviews explaining that Glenn Miller was Like a father to her because she never had a father that she had remembered.

Miller wanted Marion to appear as an all-American girl, so on her first few performances, he introduced her as "Sissy Jones." The pseudonym was not used beyond those first performances.

Hutton was an important part of the Miller band for over six years.  She remained with Miller (except for a small personal break) until the orchestra disbanded in 1942.

Video of Marion Hutton singing "Take It Easy" in 1944.

You can hear Marion Hutton's vocals on many of Glenn Miller'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.

Podcast: Episode 14

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 14: Names like Elmer and so on...

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Hello People of Swing! This episode includes some great music from Glenn Miller, Bobby Sherwood, Teddy Wilson and Louis Jordan. We take a peek at the history behind the song "Elmer's Tune." Ronnaldo also compares the most popular names from the 1910's and the 2010's.

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.

Big Band Theme Songs


Big Band Theme Songs on Swing City Radio

In the 1930's and 40's, the Big Bands were quickly identified by their Theme song.  This was Swing Music's interpretation of branding. When you heard "Moonlight Serenade" you would immediately think of Glenn Miller.  The same went for "Let's Dance" (Benny Goodman), "One o’Clock Jump" (Count Basie), "Leap Frog" (Les Brown) and "Contrasts" (Jimmy Dorsey) to just name a handful.

Theme songs were played to start off a live performance and many times they were played again to signify that their performance was coming to an end.  Just listen to many of the radio remotes we play on our "Live at 5" show and you will see what I mean.

Some bands have had multiple themes songs associated with them. Over time as the band developed and their playlist matured, the band leader would switch gears and choose another song.  This was the case for Charlie Barnet who used "Make Believe Ballroom” for his WNEW broadcasts from 1936 to 1937, "Cherokee" from 1938 to 1945 and "Redskin Rhumba" from 1945 to when he retired.

Glenn Miller has recordings of both "Take The 'A' Train" and "One o'Clock Jump" that are fantastic!  But, when I listen to those versions all I can think about is The Duke and The Count.  I guess you can say that Swing Music's interpretation of branding really did it's number on me.  :)

The video below was put together by Barry Papiernik.  It's a great sampling of Big Band theme songs and very well done.  Check out his Youtube Channel when you get a chance.  He posts some fantastic stuff on there.

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.

It's All in a Name

Baby Names from 1910s

In the Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode: 14 (which will be posted on June 5th, 2020) - I featured the song "Elmer's Tune" and looked at the history behind the song.  Well, repeating the name Elmer a few times during the recording of the podcast got me thinking about how much names have changed over the last one hundred years.

Above are the most popular male and female baby names of the 1910's in the United States.  I chose the 1910's simply because that was the decade that many of the artists we play on the station were born. Below is a list of the most popular baby names of the 2010's.  Pretty interesting huh?  Do you think the names of today are more modern?  Or, has there been a cycle back to more traditional names?  Your thoughts...

 Most popular baby names: 2010s
Baby Names from 2010s

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.
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