Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942 by Christopher Wilkinson

By Christopher Wilkinson

The coal fields of West Virginia would appear an not likely marketplace for massive band jazz in the course of the nice melancholy. wealthy African American viewers ruled through these concerned with the coal was once there for jazz excursions would appear both inconceivable. Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942 indicates that, opposite to expectancies, black Mountaineers flocked to dances by means of the masses, typically touring massive distances to listen to bands led through count number Basie, Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, and Chick Webb, between various others. certainly, as one musician who toured the nation might keep in mind, "All the bands have been goin' to West Virginia."

The comparative prosperity of the coal miners, due to New Deal commercial guidelines, used to be what attracted the bands to the country. This examine discusses that prosperity in addition to the bigger political surroundings that supplied black Mountaineers with a level of autonomy now not skilled extra south. writer Christopher Wilkinson demonstrates the significance of radio and the black press either in introducing this track and in preserving black West Virginians modern with its newest advancements. The publication explores connections among neighborhood marketers who staged the dances and the nationwide administration of the bands that performed these engagements. In interpreting black audiences' aesthetic personal tastes, the writer unearths that many black West Virginians most popular dancing to various song, not only jazz. ultimately, the booklet indicates bands now linked nearly solely with jazz have been greater than keen to fulfill these viewers personal tastes with preparations in different kinds of dance music.

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2008). One important genre of folk music was surely the blues, a tradition many would associate first with the Mississippi Delta and later with Chicago’s South Side but which is known to have flourished widely among southern blacks, including those residing on the eastern side of the central Appalachians in the Piedmont of Virginia and the Carolinas, the ancestral home of many black Mountaineers. A lifelong African American resident of Blue-field at the eastern edge of the Pocahontas coal field, Sam Bundy reported that while blacks living in his town gravitated to big band jazz and dance music, those living west of Bluefield in McDowell County favored the blues.

What brought them to the Mountain State, and why did they stay? How did they become part of the national audience for big band jazz, and how did they stay up to date with its latest developments? What sort of music did they like to hear during a dance, and how did the bands satisfy those preferences? In what ways, if any, does the reception of this music in West Virginia enlarge previous understandings of the connections between a band, its style and repertory, and the audiences it encountered while touring the country?

Tennessee? Yes. Kentucky? Yes. Virginia? Yes. West Virginia? In response, Hall made the statement quoted above. One does not associate the idea that “everyone was employed” with the Great Depression; massive, persistent unemployment was one of the defining characteristics of that period. One does not associate West Virginia with the comparative prosperity that steady employment might bring, particularly in a period of the nation’s history when so many were in desperate economic straits. It was certainly not that way in the spring of 1960 when John F.

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