I have been a long-time subscriber and speaking as the leader/trombone player with the Tarnished Six, we have have all been appreciative of the info that we find in your RAG. I also played in Rent Party Revellers and for the last 14 years I have been teaching an Elderhostel in Jekyll Island, Georgia, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Penn State University with Tex Wyndham. I copy your RAG's schedule of band performances and pass them out to the class which averages about 28 people each session. I am also trying to keep alive our great heritage in music.

Your efforts are commendable, and I must admit that the reminder that we get by e-mail helps us remember the monthly publication. Anybody interested in attending our ragtime and jazz classes at Penn State will be treated to a Thursday night performance of the Tarnished Six which just celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a sell-out performance at the State Theatre in State College, Pa., last November.

Roger Munnell
      Bellefonte, Pa.


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I was shocked to learn that the City of Bowling Green, Ky.,  is planning to have a celebration and place a historical marker to honor the Father of Ragtime, Ernest Hogan. This has floored me. Have any of you ever heard of this guy? Please see if anyone can shed some light on this. I imagine Ben Harney is doing flip-flops in his grave by now.

Vernon L. Johnson, Jr.
    Frankfort, Ky.

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The musical quiz in the April "Rag Bag" certainly does bring back memories. I once heard the two whistlers, Elmo Tanner, with Ted Weems, and Fred Lowery, with Horace Heidt. I also recall hearing Shep Fields, and his Rippling Rhythm. Of course, the "sweetest music this side of heaven" emanated from Guy Lomardo, and Bon-Bon sang "It's a Wonderful World" with Jan Savitt. Joe Reichman was the "Paliacci" of the piano, and Dick Contino played accordion for Horace Heidt before going on his own.

I know that Skinnay Ennis' wife, Carmine, sang with his band, as I met her and she still lives in Palm Springs. I also met a dancer with the Palm Spring Follies, who was introduced as the former wife of Bobby Sherwood and that she sang with his band. One of the first bands I heard at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City in 1936 was Red Norvo. His wife, Mildred Bailey, made "Old Rocking Chair" famous. I know that Louise Tobin sang with her husband, Harry James, and later with husband Peanuts Hucko's group in Denver. Georgia Carroll was wife and vocalist for Kay Kyser, succeeding Ginny Simms.

Johnny Long became famous with his band's rendition of "Shanty in Old Shanty Town." He was also referred to as "the old Left-handed Fiddler." I assume the famous blind pianist must have been Art Tatum, but there was also the blind Alec Templeton, who came to the United States when Jack Hylton brought his big band across the pond. I recall the band broadcast from the ocean liner as the band arrived in New York. The piano player with a movie made about his life, played by Tyrone Power, was Eddie Duchin, whose son, Peter, now leads a prominent society orchestra. As far as the outstanding leader and drummer who first attended a seminary, I've read that Gene Krupa's mother insisted that he pursue the priesthood and that Krupa attended a preparatory seminary for a year.

Bill Smith
   Palm Desert, Calif.


ED. NOTE: Bill Smith did amazingly well in the musical quiz posed by reader Ed Cecchini in the April "Rag Bag." Here are the official questions and answers:

  1. What two whistlers performed with the Big Bands in the 1930s and '40s?
    Elmo Tanner with Ted Weems, Fred Lowery with Vincent Lopez
  2. Who was the left-handed fiddler who led his own band?
    Johnny Long
  3. Who was the well-known accordionist who performed with the Horace Heidt Orchestra and later struck out on his own?
    Dick Contino
  4. Who was the famous blind pianist who was active during the Big Band era?
    Alex Templeton
  5. What band was associated with the Shuffle Rhythm style?
     Shep Fields
  6. What band played "the sweetest music this side of heaven"?
      Guy Lombardo
  7. Who was "Bon-Bon"?
    He was a male singer with the Jan Savitt band
  8. There were at least four well-known orchestra leaders who had their wives as featured vocalists with their bands. Can you name these bandleaders and their wives?
    Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard, Red Norvo and Mildred Bailey, Louis Prima and Keeley Smith, Abe Lyman and Rose Blane
  9. Who was known as the "Pagliacci" of the piano?
    Joe Reichman
  10. Who was the well-known performer who first attended a religious seminary before leaving it and becoming an outstanding leader and drummer?
    Gene Krupa
  11. What piano player had a movie made about his life with his part being played by actor Tyrone Power?
    Eddie Duchin
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May 2008 issue | © 2008 The Mississippi Rag

P.O. Box 19068, Minneapolis, MN 55419.