Peanuts Hucko

Picture of Peanuts Hucko

Michael Hucko, known to the Big Band World as "Peanuts", started his career playing saxophone with the bands of Will Bradley, Joe Marsala and Tommy Reynolds in the late 1930's and early 40's.  He spent a short time with Charlie Spivak's Orchestra but left to enter the military during World War II.  While in the service, Peanuts joined Glenn Miller's famed Army Air Force Band.  It was also during this time that Hucko began playing the clarinet, the instrument he is now most associated with.

After the war, Peanuts played in the bands of Benny Goodman, Ray McKinley and Jack Teagarden.  In the 1950's he spent time as a sought out studio musician and spent a couple of years playing with Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars.

The 1960's saw Hucko finally lead his own band and also do some notable work with Frank Sinatra. The 1970's were filled with appearances on the popular Lawrence Welk television show and he also led the Glenn Miller ghost band during the 70's as well.

Note: Peanuts was married to vocalist Louise Tobin.

Listen to: "Blintzes Bagel Boogie" by Peanuts Hucko on V-Disc

You can hear the playing of Peanuts Hucko right here on Swing City Radio. 

Yank Bandstand

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Yank Bandstand was an Armed Forces Radio Services show that was solely focused on what we call today, The Service Bands.  A few of these bands featured some pretty big names, but most were made up of lesser known servicemen and women who happened to be musicians and singers.  Yank Bandstand provided a platform for some of these groups to be heard and included bands from the Army, Navy Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. 

Over the next month, I will be adding many songs from these great shows to the Swing City Radio playlist. Some of them need to be cleaned up and shown some love, but many were well recorded and the audio remains in good condition.  I think you are really going to enjoy this music.  There was some true talent in many of these bands.

Keep an ear out for the music of Joe Stabile who led the Air Transport Command Band from Hamilton Field in California.  Great stuff.  Joe was the brother of bandleader Dick Stabile and a cousin of vocalist Dolly Dawn.


Podcast: Show 113 - Swinging In The Service

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Swinging In The Service - Show 113 - 

Ronnaldo pays tribute to Memorial Day by featuring vintage music from some of the best bands that made recordings while serving with the military during World War II.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

Listen to: Swinging In The Service (Show 113)
Podcast Episode

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Return To the Big Skies: Miss Montana To Normandy

Pic of Return To the Big Skies: Miss Montana To Normandy

So I had the pleasure of view a great documentary the other night called "Return To the Big Skies: Miss Montana To Normandy".  What a great film!  It was directed and edited by one of our Hepcats - Eric from Montana - and he and his team did such a great job, I was really impressed.

In a nutshell, it's a film about a community coming together to restore an old plane from the World War II era named "Miss Montana".  The mission: To get this old DC-3 all fixed up and fly it over to Europe in time for the 75th Year anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.

With all of the negativity you see everyday on the news, it was REFRESHING to watch something positive.  So if you want to take a break from all the craziness going on in the world, check this film out, I really enjoyed it.

It's available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

Here's a copy of the official movie poster:

Return To the Big Skies: Miss Montana To Normandy

What a great looking poster!  I can promise you that once I get a copy of this, it's going right up on the Swing City Studio wall.  So check out this film, I highly recommend it.

Bon Bon

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George Tunnell, known simply as Bon Bon, was a popular lead vocalist for Jan Savitt and His Top Hatters.  Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, which is located near Swing City Studios, he was among the first African American vocalists to perform with a white band.  

Bon Bon started out in the early 1930's fronting a vocal quartet called "The Three Keys".  He had some success with the quartet and even charted a hit with "Fit as a Fiddle", but it was with Jan Savitt's band that Bon Bon left his mark.  He recorded a number of tracks as a member of The Top Hatters and even managed to land a handful of hits.  Savitt's best selling songs, "Hi-Yo Silver", "720 In The Books" and "Make Believe Island", featured Bon Bon on vocals.

He left Savitt's band in 1941 to pursue a solo career and recorded songs like "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" and "Blow, Gabriel Blow" and enjoyed some moderate success.

Bon Bon went on to front the Tommy Reynolds Band in the 1950's but his career had slow down quite a bit by then.  He called it quits shortly after that and retired from music.  Bon Bon returned to live out his days in Pennsylvania and passed away at the age of 62 in May of 1975.

Listen to: "720 In The Books" by Jan Savitt featuring Bon Bon from 1939.

You can hear Bon Bon, as a member of Jan Savitt's band, right here on Swing City Radio. 

Playlist: Recent Song Additions

Picture of Les Brown

As you know, I'm constantly adding new music to the Swing City Radio playlist to keep the programming as fresh as possible.  Here are some new additions that I dug out of the archives of AFRS Transcriptions and cleaned up just for you to enjoy:

Les Brown - One Night Stand (1957)
Les Brown was still swingin' strong in the late 50's and these tracks recorded at The Hershey Ballroom are a perfect example of that.  Songs include: "At Sundown", "Lulu's Back In Town" and more.

Charlie Barnet - One Night Stand (1959)
These tracks were recorded at the Hollywood Palladium in December of 1959.  Barnet had slowed down quite a bit by this point but his music still sounds great.  Songs include: "Lemon Twist", "Moonglow", "Moten Swing" and others.

Eddy Howard - One Night Stand (1955)
These songs by Eddy Howard were recorded at the Aragon Ballroom in 1955.  Tracks include: "Caravan", "Love Every Moment You Live", "Easy To Love" and many more.

Also, keep an ear out for other tracks added to the Swing City Radio playlist this month by: Kay Starr, Johnny Richards, Ray Sinatra and Corky Corcoran.


Podcast: Show 112 - Thunder Rock and The Velvet Fog

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Thunder Rock and The Velvet Fog - Show 112 - 

Features vintage music from Mel Torme with Artie Shaw, Randy Brooks, Hal McIntyre and more.  Ronnaldo also plays a classic Boogie Woogie recording from Will Bradley.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

Listen to: Thunder Rock and The Velvet Fog (Show 112)

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Charlie Christian

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Charlie Christian's career was way too short but so impactful on Swing, Jazz and music overall.  He helped raise the electric guitar from just a background, rhythm section instrument into a featured solo instrument.  Christian is also considered one of the founding fathers of Bebop and Cool Jazz.

In 1931, at the age of 15, Christian began playing guitar.  By 1936, he was playing electric guitar and already making quite a name for himself. Christian had become a regional attraction throughout the Midwest of the United States and would jam with many of the big-name performers traveling through Oklahoma City.

His playing and style was brought to the attention of Benny Goodman. Goodman was uninterested in hiring Christian at first, because the electric guitar was such a new instrument at the time and he wasn't sure if Charlie's "sound" would fit in with the band.  But after hearing him play and jamming with Christian a few times, Goodman hired Christian to play with the newly formed Goodman Sextet in September 1939. 

Picture of Charlie Christian with Benny Goodman

By February 1940, Christian simply dominated the jazz and swing guitar polls and was elected to the Metronome All Stars.  In such a short time, Christian's playing style had won over the public. He paved the way for the modern electric guitar sound that was followed by so many others.

Unfortunately, Christian contracted tuberculosis in the late 1930's.  He was hospitalized at times, but refused to slow down his hectic lifestyle of recording, touring and late night jam sessions. In March of 1942, Christian passed away in the height of his career.  He was only 25 years old!

It's safe to say that Charlie Christian elevated the electric guitar and influenced a countless amount of musicians that followed. Christian once stated that "he wanted his guitar to sound like a tenor saxophone" which was so different at that time in music.  Such a fantastic musician whose candle burnt out way to quickly.

Listen to: "Rose Room" by the Benny Goodman Sextet featuring Charlie Christian on guitar from 1939.

You can hear a lot of Charlie Christian's work with Benny Goodman right here on Swing City Radio. 

Watch: "Jack Armstrong Blues"

Picture of Jack Teagarden and His All Stars

Today's video is a Snader Telecription that was made for television in the early 1950's.  It features Jack Teagarden and His All Stars performing "Jack Armstrong Blues".

This song clip shows why many regard Teagarden as one of the best trombonists of the Big Band Era.  The Snader Telescription itself is in good quality and sounds great.


Watch: Jack Teagarden and His All Stars perform "Jack Armstrong Blues" 

Podcast: Show 111 - Swing and Inflation

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Swing and Inflation - Show 111 - 

Features vintage recordings from Bobby Sherwood, Jan Garber, Abe Lyman and many more Big Band artists.  Ronnaldo takes a closer look at the show "Treasury Star Parade".

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

Listen to: Swing and Inflation (Show 111)

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Watch: Jan Savitt and His Band

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Today's video focuses on Jan Savitt and His Orchestra.  This fantastic short film was filmed in October of 1945 and released to the general public in March of 1946 by Warner Bros.

It focuses on some of the highlights of Jan Savitt's career up to that point, describes Savitt's jump from classical music into swing, and contains some great music by Savitt and his band.  You can definitely tell this was filmed by a major studio like Warner Bros. by the very good camera work and use of sets.  A big improvement over the Soundies we are used to watching here.


Watch: "Jan Savitt and His Band" from 1946

Podcast: Show 110 - Jill and Ronnaldo

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Jill and Ronnaldo - Show 110 - 

Ronnaldo and the legendary G.I. Jill share the mic in this episode.  Features recordings by Stan Kenton, Lionel Hampton and Artie Shaw.  By the way, has anyone seen Jill's Request Book?

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

Listen to: Jill and Ronnaldo (Show 110)

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Diane Courtney

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Diane Courtney was a versatile vocalist whose singing career spanned from the early 1940's into the 1950's. Her presence was mostly felt on the radio, she didn't record many studio sides.  Courtney's two biggest radio gigs was for the "Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street" and "The Alan Young Show."  Her work and recordings on both shows were excellent and really showed off her range as a vocalist. 

Aside from her radio work, there isn't much of a catalog from Courtney to speak of.  There are some recordings she did with Nat Brandwynn and His Orchestra and a couple of songs she recorded in the late 40's as a solo artist that weren't very successful.

As far as I know, Diane Courtney turned to Film and Television in the 1950's to extend her career. She appeared in "Once Upon a Tune" in 1951 along with some smaller roles throughout the decade.  Courtney even made an appearance on "The Munsters" in the mid 1960's.

Listen to: "Magic is the Moonlight" by Diane Courtney from 1944

You can hear many songs by the talented vocalist, Diane Courtney, right here on Swing City Radio.

Soundie: "Anvil Chorus"

Picture of Al Donahue

Today's Soundie is "Anvil Chorus" by Al Donahue and His Orchestra.  This was filmed and released in 1943.  Donahue and his boys do some nice work in this one and it features some pretty good solos.  I'm not sure if Al got the memo that he was being filmed.  Throughout the majority of the Soundie he is facing the band and rarely acknowledges or interacts with the camera.

Also, Ive covered the reason that the film is in reverse in past posts.  But, in case you are newer to Soundies, this clip is from one of the original reels that was show on the Panoram.  While playing, the film images would bounce off a set of mirrors to appear on the Panoram screen in the correct direction.


Watch the Soundie: "Anvil Chorus" by Al Donahue and His Orchestra from 1943

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