By Christopher Wilkinson
The coal fields of West Virginia would appear an not likely marketplace for tremendous band jazz through the nice melancholy. wealthy African American viewers ruled by way of these concerned with the coal was once there for jazz excursions would appear both inconceivable. Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942 exhibits that, opposite to expectancies, black Mountaineers flocked to dances through the loads, normally touring substantial distances to listen to bands led via count number Basie, Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, and Chick Webb, between various others. certainly, as one musician who toured the country could bear in mind, "All the bands have been goin' to West Virginia."
The comparative prosperity of the coal miners, because of New Deal commercial rules, was once what attracted the bands to the country. This research discusses that prosperity in addition to the bigger political surroundings that supplied black Mountaineers with a level of autonomy no longer skilled extra south. writer Christopher Wilkinson demonstrates the significance of radio and the black press either in introducing this song and in retaining black West Virginians modern with its most up-to-date advancements. The publication explores connections among neighborhood marketers who staged the dances and the nationwide administration of the bands that performed these engagements. In reading black audiences' aesthetic personal tastes, the writer finds that many black West Virginians most well-liked dancing to a number of track, not only jazz. ultimately, the booklet indicates bands now linked virtually solely with jazz have been greater than keen to fulfill these viewers personal tastes with preparations in different sorts of dance music.
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Extra resources for Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942
36, 2/7). In September 1940 a crowd “estimated at close to 4,000 people turned out ... 40, 20). Hall’s association of this lively culture of big band jazz and dance music with an active mining industry is corroborated most convincingly by a diary kept by Paul Barnes, who for several months was a clarinetist/saxophonist in Joe “King” Oliver’s dance band. As will be discussed in detail in chapter 3, Barnes’s “gig book” listed, among other items of information, the money paid to each player at the end of each of the band’s engagements between October 1934 and the end of June 1935.
All of the available evidence indicates that many other black bands including those mentioned above did at least as well, if not better. The musical culture upon which this study is focused was ultimately dependent upon enormous deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the Mountain State (the existence of which became known a few years after it achieved statehood on June 20, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War). Understanding the history of the development of the coal industry in West Virginia is key to understanding why the state later proved to be so attractive to touring black dance bands in the 1930s.
Huntington instructed his brother-in-law, Delos W. Emmons, to acquire five thousand acres on which to construct the railroad’s western terminus. The community that formed adjacent to this facility was later named Huntington and would become the largest city on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and a regular destination for black dance bands in the 1930s (Eller 1973, 42). That African American laborers built the C&O was noted in 1873 by the journalist Jedidiah Hotchkiss, who wrote frequently about the potential wealth to be found in West Virginia’s coalfields (Williams 2002, 183–84).
Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942 by Christopher Wilkinson