Greg Poppleton

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27 June 2023

(Until 27 June)

Australian Jazz. 1920s-40s Dance Bands – Phantom Dancer

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

Australian jazz from the 1920s-50s is this week’s Phantom Dancer feature.

The Phantom Dancer is your weekly non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week.

LISTEN to this week’s Phantom Dancer mix (online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 27 June) and weeks of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

PASSION

My passion for jazz and swing from the 1920s, 30s, 40s at age 3 when I first saw Louis Armstrong on TV playing a cornet solo, just him, his cornet, and his white hankie.

Now, I’m Australia’s only authentic 1920s-30s singer playing festivals including Sydney Festival, Art & About, hotels and private events.

My weekly radio show, The Phantom Dancer, is a non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV heard on 107.3 2SER Sydney and 30 radio stations across Australia – and online.

Kate Dunbar, a blues and jazz singer told me that Joan Clarke, a former dancer at The Booker T Washington Club, a recreation club for US Black Servicemen in Surry Hills, was trying to raise money to have a plaque commemorating the club attached to the building that housed the club.

Joan had written a book about her years there called All On One Good Dancing Leg. I said I’ll approach ABC Radio about making a half-hour documentary, I’d already made two others, one about the German Swing Youth in the Nazi era, and one on Body Scars and the Skin Ego, and that I’d donate the fee to the cause.

DANCING LEGS

The ABC gave me the green light, and Joan introduced me to Aunty Pansy Hickey who danced at the club in her mid-teens.

Pansy then introduced me to Aunty Christine Hinton who also danced at the club in her teens and met her husband there. She remembered dancing to a piano accordion trio at a hall in Oxford St then running to the Booker T. where women guests were given a corsage, she was introduced to potato salad and dancing where women where thrown in the air.

Social dancing in Australia at the time was very much under the guidance of English dance teachers and New Vogue dancing: the barn dance, waltzes, foxtrots, quicksteps all strict tempo and strictly regulated as to what order songs were played was the go.

Pianist, Jimmy Somerville, noted that very few of the black service personnel were into jazz but apart from jitterbugging they were very much into slow drags so that the band would play Honeysuckle Rose for as long as an hour and when one female dance partner got tired, the soldier would ask another.

AUSTRALIAN JAZZ

Sydney had a lot of small bands, trios and quartets, that played for new vogue dancers in suburban dance halls across Sydney like Keatings above Newtown Railway Station. I remember the Albert Palais in Leichhardt still had its pink, scalloped band shell on the stage when I went there as a kid in 1970.

The standard of jazz musicianship in Sydney was high, trombonist Frank Coughlan and clarinettist Abe Romaine had played around the world, a 16 year old Don Burrows played at a Sydney club, Ray Price who played guitar and occasionally electric guitar at the Booker T. became double bassist for the Sydney symphony Orchestra. Jim Davidson lead the ABC Dance Band that broadcast across Australia. US bands visited. Artie Shaw played in Sydney during the war and sat in with a local all-women band he said were best local musos he’d heard. Bob Hope hailed local Roy Rene as one of the world’s greatest comedians.

Bumper Farrell policed Kings Cross with his boots and fists. There was 6pm closing and sly grog shops run by friendly gangsters. Romano’s was the smartest dining out spot in Sydney, playing host to socialites, politicians, and Hollywood stars. Princes in Martin Place regular ignored state liquor laws.

POETRY

The poetry of Kenneth Slessor sums up Sydney life in the 30s and 40s.

At that time indigenous singer Georgia Lee got her start singing for US troops in Queensland. She went on to an international career singing with Duke Ellington, Geraldo in London and Nat King Cole on his Australian tour. Nellie Small recorded in the 1950s. On the B side of one her records was Torres Strait islander singer George Assang who made Australia’s first rock’n’roll record in 1955.

BODGIE

A youth tribe grew up in Sydney and other cities imitating the visiting Americans. The Bodgies and their female Widgies dressed American, hung out in places like Wynyard railway tunnel looking sneering, and danced wildly to jazz whether swing or the dominant improvisational jazz in Australia post war, trad. And the way they wore their hair, you couldn’t tell who were boys and who were girls! And that was the Sydney Nellie knew.

27 June PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
LISTEN ONLINE Community Radio Network Show CRN #604

107.3 2SER Tuesday 27 June 2023
12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
National Program
5UV Adelaide Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4am
2BRW Braidwood Monday 3 – 4am
2YYY Young Monday 3 – 4am
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 3am – 4 and 6 -7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
and Sunday 11pm
Reading Radio (QLD) Friday 1am – 2
2RRR Ryde Friday 11am – 12
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Saturday 4am – 5am
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturday 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm
2SEA Sapphire Coast Eden Sunday 9 – 10pm

Set 1
Randy Brooks
I Never Thought I’d Sing The Blues
Randy Brooks Orchestra (voc) Lillian Lane
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Balltoom
New York City
AFRS Re-broadcast
17 Nov 1945
It’s Never Too Late to Pray
Randy Brooks Orchestra (voc) Harry Brooks and Band
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Balltoom
New York City
AFRS Re-broadcast
17 Nov 1945
That’s For Me
Randy Brooks Orchestra (voc) Billy Usher
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Balltoom
New York City
AFRS Re-broadcast
17 Nov 1945
The Main Idea + ThemeRandy Brooks Orchestra (voc) Lillian Lane
‘One Night Stand’
Roseland Balltoom
New York City
AFRS Re-broadcast
17 Nov 1945
Set 2
Sweet Music
Theme + Melody in F
Benny Krueger Orchestra
Mutual Broadcasting System
WOR NYC
28 Apr 1940
Say It
Benny Krueger Orchestra
Mutual Broadcasting System
WOR NYC
28 Apr 1940
The Girl with the Light Blue Hair
Benny Krueger Orchestra
Mutual Broadcasting System
WOR NYC
28 Apr 1940
Danny Boy + You Can’t Escape From Me
Benny Krueger Orchestra
Mutual Broadcasting System
WOR NYC
28 Apr 1940
Set 3
Australian Dance Bands
Jamboree
Frank Coughlan Orchestra (voc) Frank Coughlan
Featuradio Transcription
Sydney
Jul 1937
Mortein Ad
Rex ‘Wacka’ Dawe
Radio 5AD Adelaide
1938
Jimmy Elkins & his Wintergarden Orchestra
Jimmie Elkins & his Wintergarden OrchestraComm Rec
Sydney
28 Jan 1928
That’s How I Like ‘Em
Nell Fleming
Comm Rec
Melbourne
5 Oct 1930
Set 4
Dorsey Brothers
Open + Opus #1
Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Statler
WABC ABC NYC
1956
Always in My Heart
Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (voc) Tommy Mercer
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Statler
WABC ABC NYC
1956
Romance
Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Statler
WABC ABC NYC
1956
Moten Stomp
Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Statler
WABC ABC NYC
1956
Set 5
Hal Kemp
When Summer is Gone (theme) + You’ve Got Me Crying Again
Hal Kemp Orchestra (voc) Skinnay Ennis
‘Lavena Program’
Radio Transcription
NYC
1934
Puddin’ Head Jones
Hal Kemp Orchestra (voc) Skinnay Ennis
‘Lavena Program’
Radio Transcription
NYC
1934
Boulevarde of Broken Dreams
Hal Kemp Orchestra (voc) Deane Janis
‘Lavena Program’
Radio Transcription
NYC
1934
Nuts About Mutts
Hal Kemp Orchestra (voc) Saxie Dowell
‘Lavena Program’
Radio Transcription
NYC
1934
Set 6
Benny Goodman 1940
Let’s Dance (theme) + Big John Special + Hour of Parting
Benny Goodman Orchestra
Peacock Court
Hotel Mark Hopkins
KFRC Mutual San Francisco
28 May 1940
Sheik of Araby
Benny Goodman Sextet
Cocanut Grove
Ambassador Hotel
KHJ Mutual Los Angeles
12 Apr 1940
Star Dust
Benny Goodman Orchestra
Peacock Court
Hotel Mark Hopkins
KFRC Mutual San Francisco
4 Jun 1940
Goodbye (theme)
Benny Goodman Orchestra
Peacock Court
Hotel Mark Hopkins
KFRC Mutual San Francisco
4 Jun 1940
Set 7
Esquire All-Stars
Open + Esquire Bounce
Esquire All Star Jazz Band
‘Spotlight Bands’
Metropolitan Opera House
WJZ Blue NYC
18 Jan 1944
Rockin’ Chair
Esquire All Star Jazz Band (voc) Mildred Bailey‘Spotlight Bands’
Metropolitan Opera House
WJZ Blue NYC
18 Jan 1944
Basin Street Blues
Esquire All Star Jazz Band (voc) Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden
‘Spotlight Bands’
Metropolitan Opera House
WJZ Blue NYC
18 Jan 1944
I’ll Get By
Esquire All Star Jazz Band (voc) Billie Holiday
‘Spotlight Bands’
Metropolitan Opera House
WJZ Blue NYC
18 Jan 1944
Set 8
Miles Davis & Charlie Parker
Hot House
Miles Davis & Charlie Parker
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
WMCA NYC
12 Dec 1948
Salt PeanutsMiles Davis & Charlie Parker (voc) Charlie Parker
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
WMCA NYC
12 Dec 1948
Chasin’ the Bird
Miles Davis & Charlie Parker
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
WMCA NYC
18 Dec 1948
All Gigs
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
2SER Radio 107.3 Sydney
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