Three Almost Forgotten Band Leaders
Many recording artists found in the Knott family record collection were well known regionally but were never big stars. Records were rarely played on the radio until about 1940, so there was an ample need for dance bands to perform in person and on the radio.
One such artist was Fred Waring. He dropped out of engineering school for a career in music. In this number from 1928, Waring’s Pennsylvanians celebrate Montreal as a party destination during the darkness of prohibition:
Today, if Waring is remembered at all, it’s for his invention: the Waring Blender. To a slight degree his connection to popular music lingers. Linda Ronstadt mentions the Waring Blender in her 1976 cover of the Warren Zevon song “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”.
Isham Jones was one of the most influential band leaders between the wars. He composed several familiar songs of the era and many well-known performers passed through his band. This dance number “Three-Thirty Blues” from the Knott’s collection has some very nice piano work:
Finally, In the 1920s, Tal Henry performed in hotel ballrooms around the South. His recording of “My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans” is interesting because it was composed by Jimmy Rogers, the early country music artist. This cover was recorded less than six months after the song was written. One wonders if Tal Henry had heard the record or encountered Rogers on the road.
Here is Tal Henry’s instrumental version of Roger’s song:
Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians (1928)
B: “Hello Montreal”
Isham Jones Orchestra (1926)
B: “Three-Thirty Blues”
Tal Henry and his Orchestra (1928)
B: “My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans”