Gene Krupa

Picture of Gene Krupa

Gene Krupa was a fantastic bandleader and composer, but he is most remembered for his energetic drumming style.  His solos were simply legendary. Krupa is also considered "the founding father of the modern drum set".

Krupa broke into the Chicago music scene around 1927.  In his early years Gene appeared on recordings by Eddie Condon, Bix Beiderbecke and Thelma Terry.   In December 1934, he joined Benny Goodman's band, where his drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on the hit "Sing, Sing, Sing" were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.

Krupa decided to leave Goodman's band shortly after the famous Carnegie Hall concert in January 1938 to form his own band.  The band was a complete success and recorded a boatload of hits in the early 1940's.

Watch: Gene Krupa and His Orchestra play "Drum Boogie.  This version is from the 1941 movie "Ball of Fire". The female vocalist in this clip is actress Barbara Stanwyck, whose singing was dubbed by Martha Tilton.

In 1943, Krupa was arrested on drug charges which resulted in a short jail sentence and bad publicity. Krupa broke up the orchestra and returned to Goodman's band for a few months moved on to Tommy Dorsey's band for a short time before putting together his next orchestra.

Through the 1950's and 60's, Krupa continued to perform and even had some roles in Hollywood. His drum battles with Buddy Rich were outstanding and the two recorded a couple of albums together.

You can hear Gene Krupa and His Orchestra right here on Swing City Radio.

The Andrews Sisters in "Private Buckaroo"

Private Buckaroo

If you are an Andrews Sisters fan, I strongly recommend you set aside a rainy afternoon to watch the movie "Private Buckaroo".  The movie itself should manage to keep you entertained for about an hour, but it's the music that shines in this film.  I've just watched it again recently and it gets a little better every time.  Let me sum it up by describing it as "brain candy" with a great soundtrack.

Songs by The Andrews Sisters dominate this 1942 release including hits like "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree", "Six Jerks in a Jeep", and the song I included below, "Three Little Sisters".  Altogether, the film features six songs by Patty, Laverne and Maxene.  Harry James plays a large part in the movie as well and his trumpet playing can be also heard throughout.

Watch: The Andrews Sisters perform "Three Little Sisters" from Private Buckaroo

Also, I can't forget to mention that Shemp Howard's role as Sgt. Muggsy had me looking up old classic Three Stooges clips afterwards.  Enjoy.

Shemp Howard

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Podcast: Episode 72 - Exploring The Cafe Rouge

Picture of Big Band Podcast Logo

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Exploring The Cafe Rouge - 

Episode 72 includes vintage performances from Glenn Miller, Woody Herman and Artie Shaw. Ronnaldo dusts off the ol' Time Machine and takes you back to 1943 to visit the iconic Cafe Rouge.

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Happy Birthday: Buddy Clark

Picture of Buddy Clark

Today we celebrate the birthday of a true crooner - Buddy Clark.  Buddy was born on July 26th, 1912 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Buddy Clark and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 26: Buddy Clark




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The Jingle Maker

Picture of Raymond Scott and Dorothy Collins

Raymond Scott is best known for his classic recordings of songs like "Powerhouse", "Twilight in Turkey" and so many more.  Personally, he is one of my favorite artists from the Era.

Throughout the 1950's and well into the 60's, while other bandleaders were fading into the past, Raymond Scott pursued another of his many passions, the commercial jingle. 

During a span of roughly 15 years, Scott and his then wife, Dorothy Collins, recorded dozens and dozens of commercial jingles for products like Listerine, Sprite, Hamm's Beer, Tareyton Cigarettes, Vicks Medicated Cough Drops, and many others!

I'm telling you, the more I learn about Raymond Scott over the years, the more he just simply amazes me with his creativity and versatility.  I've included a couple of samples below for you to enjoy.

By the way, I found a very funny line in one of the descriptions describing the collection of these recorded jingles.  It simply states, "Products may contain soy, wheat, dairy, or Mel Tormé." - Enjoy!


Listen to: RCA Victor TV - "New Sensations in Sound"


Listen to: "When You Shop at a Food Town Store"

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Watch the Soundie: Tampico

Picture of June Christy

Today's Soundie features Stan Kenton and His Orchestra. "Tampico" was a Top 10 Hit for the band and just happened to be the first Kenton song to feature the vocals of June Christy.  Christy later commented, "She had been disappointed that her first recording with Kenton was 'Tampico', but was fortunate that it was a hit and established her right away."

The Soundie was released to the Panoram Nation in November of 1945.  The song pokes fun at the Mexican city of Tampico suggesting it had become more Americanized than the United States itself.  There are many lines of the song that point out that most of the "Mexican" souvenirs which could be bought in Tampico had been ironically manufactured in the U.S. 

Also, I just have to add that June Christy is by far, my favorite Kenton vocalist. Enjoy!

Watch: "Tampico" by Stan Kenton with June Christy on vocals.

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Happy Birthday: Bob Eberly

Picture of Bob Eberly

Today on Big Band Birthdays we celebrate the birthday of the talented and popular male vocalist of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra - Bob Eberly.  Robert was born on July 24th, 1916 in Mechanicville, New York.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Bob Eberly and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 24: Bob Eberly


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Podcast: Episode 71 - Linda and the Dipsy Doodle

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Linda and the Dipsy Doodle - 

Episode 71 includes some music from Benny Carter, Anson Weeks, Ray Noble and more.  Ronnaldo plays tracks from old AFRS Radio Shows including Command Performance, Jubilee and One Night Stand.  But hey, he always does that.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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Happy Birthday: Kay Starr

Picture of Kay Starr

Today we celebrate the birthday of a great female vocalist of the 1940's and 50's - Kay Starr.  Kay was born on July 21st, 1922 in Dougherty, Oklahoma.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Kay Starr and hear a couple of her songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 21: Kay Starr




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Wild Bill Davison: That's A Plenty

Wild Bill Davison on Swing City Radio

Awhile back, I was performing my monthly ritual of browsing the local used record shops looking for music to feature on the station.  Truth be told, many times I come back empty handed.  That's just how it goes.  However, on that particular quest, I did find a good bunch of interesting records.  

One of those records was "That's a Plenty" by Wild Bill Davison.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with Davison, he was a fantastic cornet player that started out in the 1920's but didn't start to make an impact until the early 40's.  He is best known for his work with bandleader Eddie Condon, but still managed to do many projects of his own.  Davison also had a reputation for heavy drinking and womanizing, hence the nickname "Wild Bill."

This album features many great musicians including Pee Wee Russell and Eddie Condon.  Davison plays both the cornet and trumpet on different tracks on this album.  If you like your Big Band music more on the Dixieland side, then you'll enjoy this record.  


You can hear the songs "That's A Plenty", "Panama", "Muskrat Ramble" and "Clarinet Marmalade" right here on Swing City Radio.

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Stringy: The Talking Guitar

Picture of Stringy

Alvino Rey was a decent bandleader, but he is best know for his work on the Talking Pedal Steel Guitar and his visionary work in electronics.  I'd also add that it's quite impressive that he landed himself a King Sister too.  :)

When Ray was only 15 years old he had built himself his very own Electrical Guitar Amplifier.  In 1930, Rey became the first guitarist to electrify the guitar, so the guitar could be heard in a band performance setting.  He even helped develop a prototype pickup for Gibson Guitar in 1935.  Let's just say that Alvino knew knew a thing or two when it came to electronics.

That brings us to Stringy The Talking Guitar.   In 1939, Rey had figured out how to use a carbon throat microphone to modulate his electrified pedal steel guitar sound, in a unique way.  During a performance, his wife Luise (the King Sister who I referred to above) would wear the mic and stand behind the curtain and sing along with Rey's guitar lines. It was called a "singing guitar" and that is what gave Stringy his strange voice.  This setup is credited as the first-known talk-box.  What's a talk-box?  Just think Peter Frampton in the 1970's.  He loved using that thing.

Check out this video of Rey and "Stringy" performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1944.  I'm quite sure Luise is somewhere behind the curtain.  Also, please don't hold me responsible if "Stringy" shows up somewhere in your dreams.  Enjoy!


Watch: Alvino Rey and Stringy performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1944.

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Podcast: Episode 70 - Tonight is Your Lucky Night

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Tonight is Your Lucky Night - 

Episode 70 features vintage recordings from Erskine Hawkins, Boyd Raeburn and Harry James. We also learn a little bit about Lucky Lager.

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Freddie Slack

Picture of Freddie Slack

Freddie Slack was simply one of the best boogie-woogie pianists of The Big Band Era.  His piano playing in classics like "Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)", "Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat" and "Down the Road a Piece" are great examples of Daddy Slack's talent.

He started playing drums and xylophone as a young boy, then as a young teen he moved on to playing the piano.  When he was 17, Freddie moved with his parents to Chicago and soon found himself surrounded by some of the great talent of the time.  There he worked hard at perfecting the boogie-woogie style of piano playing he loved so much.  Eventually, he moved out to LA and joined Ben Pollack's band for a bit before moving on to play with Jimmy Dorsey.

In 1939, he joined up with Will Bradley and Ray McKinley in The Will Bradley Orchestra.  This is where his career really took off.  Freddie's piano playing was at the forefront of many of Bradley's hits.


Listen to the piano playing of Freddie Slack in "Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)"

In 1942, Slack formed his own band and he did quite well as a bandleader.  He even scored a few hits of his own including his recordings of Cow Cow Boogie which featured a young Ella Mae Morris on vocals and his version of a song he helped write in his Bradley days - "Strange Cargo".

Freddie slack continued to release tracks throughout the 1940's and into the early 50's.  In Aug of 1965, Slack was sadly found dead in his bedroom from undetermined causes.

You can hear Freddie Slack and his boogie-woogie style of playing right here on Swing City Radio.

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Soundie: The Cat Can't Dance

Picture of Mabel Lee

Today's Soundie features the beautiful singer and dancer Mabel Lee performing a song called The Cat Can't Dance.  Mabel is backed by Deryck Sampson and His Band in this one.  It's a very catchy song.

Mabel Lee was known as "The Queen of The Soundies".  She was featured in about fifteen Soundies and appeared as an extra in many others.  Wikipedia states that she appeared in over one hundred Soundies.  I'm not sure where they got those numbers but I don't think that is correct.  Regardless of the exact number, she was in a boatload of them.

Lee was an established dancer and entertainer with a good voice.  When watching her clips it's not hard to notice the amount of skin she would show.  Soundies were not subjected to Hollywood censorship rules back then. 

It's true that Mabel Lee was one sexy performer, but she was also an amazing talent.  Enjoy!


Watch: Mabel Lee in "The Cat Can't Dance"

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Happy Birthday: Cootie Williams

Picture of Cootie Williams

Today marks the Birthday of fantastic trumpet player - Cootie Williams.  Cootie was born on July 10th, 1911 in Mobile, Alabama.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Cootie Williams and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 10: Cootie Williams


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Podcast: Episode 69 - Music and Pictures From The Sky

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Music and Pictures From The Sky - 

Episode 69 includes some great vintage music from Jimmy Dorsey, Ray McKinley, The Dinning Sisters and more.  Ronnaldo also discusses the differences between Snader Telescriptions and Soundies.

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Happy Birthday: Louis Jordan

Picture of Louis Jordan

Today we celebrate the birthday of The King of the Jukebox - Louis Jordan.  Louis was born on July 8th, 1908 in Brinkley, Arkansas.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Louis Jordan and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra:


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The Cafe Rouge

Picture of the Cafe Rouge

The Cafe Rouge itself was in the Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.  During the height of The Big Band Era it was one of the hottest places to be, and to play.  So many bands performed there including Count Basie, Woody Herman, The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, The Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller. The bandstand was a very nice size for an inside venue and the dance floor was simply huge.  Can you just imagine that floor just packed with jitterbugs dancing all night long?  Everyone loved the place! Glenn Miller enjoyed playing there so much that he even recorded a song about it.  Pennslvania 6-5000 was actually the phone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania.

A large amount of tables surrounded the dance floor.  You could sit and have a meal or just enjoy a bunch of drinks.  The ceiling was 22 feet from the floor and was the main reason the Cafe Rouge had such great acoustics. That feature alone made the venue such a great place to perform simply because the music would sound so darn good. 

Picture of Cafe Rouge Card

 The NBC Radio Network had a remote connection set up so they could broadcast shows live on the radio.  This is where many of those fantastic live recordings I play on The Big Band and Swing Podcast, come from.  Remember, the sound equipment at that time wasn't like it is today.  There were just a few microphones strategically placed here and there to capture the audio portion of the performances.  So a place like The Cafe Rouge, that just naturally sounded good, had good reverb, was the perfect type of place to broadcast shows.

If this topic interests you, I will be taking podcast listeners back in time to visit the famous Cafe Rouge.  I will also play a few great performances that took place there as well.  All of that goodness can be found on The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 72.  That episode is scheduled for release on July 30th, so if you have a chance, be sure to check it out!

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Soundie: Juke Box Joe's

Picture of Carol Adams

Today's Soundie features the vocals of Carol Adams with music provided by Wingy Manone.  Wingy and His band do not appear on screen in this Soundie but his trumpet playing is unmistakable.

This Soundie was released in February of 1944 and takes place in a local malt shop.  As the music picks up, the Jitterbugs just can't help themselves and that's when the dancing starts.

The beautiful, Carol Adams handles the vocals in this number.  She was known mainly for her work as an actress and was regarded as one of the best tap dance stars in the early 1940's.  Enjoy!


Watch: Carol Adams a Soundie called "Juke Box Joe's"

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Happy Birthday: Jerry Gray

Picture of Jerry Gray

Today we celebrate the birthday of violinist, arranger, composer and bandleader - Jerry Gray.  Jerry was born on July 3rd 1915 in Boston, Massachusetts.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Jerry Gray and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra:


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Podcast: Episode 68 - A Frolic and a Jam

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - A Frolic and a Jam - 

Episode 68 features recordings from Bing Crosby, Ralph Flanagan and Duke Ellington. We also listen to some more tracks from the Saturday Night Swing Club.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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Happy Birthday: Alvino Rey

Picture of Alvino Rey

Today we celebrate the birthday of bandleader and guitarist - Alvino Rey.  Alvino Rey was born on July 1st, 1908 in Oakland, California.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Alvino Rey and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 1: Alvino Rey


Podcast Extras are available for Hepcats!
To become a Hepcat, simply join our Patreon for instant access to All Types of Bonus Content, Podcast Extras, Specials and so much more.  It's also a great way to support Swing City Radio and The Big Band and Swing Podcast.


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