[78-L] What is a Savannah Band?

Rodger Holtin rjh334578 at gmail.com.invalid
Fri Dec 1 09:32:26 PST 2017

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From: 78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com [mailto:78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com] On Behalf Of Kristjan Saag
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 4:19 PM
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Subject: Re: [78-L] What is a Savannah Band?


Still I'd like to know more about why Savannah was chosen as a symbol for "music from the south". New Orleans, yes, but Savannah? What happened in Savannah? Any Georgians around?


I avoid Georgia whenever possible, but allow a Tennessean to weigh in here.
Savannah is also a town in Tennessee, not far from me, on the banks of the Tennessee River.  More generically, a savanna(h) is a grassy plain scattered with trees (eastern Africa sometimes cited), and a not-uncommon girl's name, (used more lately, by my perception of my surroundings.)

The point goes to Dr. Lennick.
Savannah as used in the 78rpm dance band/retro band context is yet another simple reference to the American South.  In the early 20th Century such references were legion, starting in the antebellum years with Stephen Foster songs or thereabouts, the old South was seen as an idyllic place and sung about in the most endearing terms.  This even rebounded after the Civil War and got a real shot in the arm about the time of WWI [I credit the Original DIXIELAND Jass Band as the re-igniter, or gasoline on the glowing ember, anyway] and was epidemic in the Roaring Twenties.  I have a list compiled from the Library of Congress 78rpm records alone showing some 300 songs using southern state names.  Dick Sudhalter covers this phenomenon in his book Lost Chords, pp 274-276.  I used it as a basis for one of my radio programs a decade ago and played all kinds of records that supported the theme.  Looking at it again last night, parts of the narrative read like an unpublished thesis paper, but it came off OK.  As usual, as soon as something "goes to press," you always find things you missed, Savannah bands being one of them for me.

New Orleans was but just one town/area of the American South to lend its name to jazz/pop music performers.  It went on into the Depression and eventually died there.  [Had Elvis Presley been a bandleader (Elvis and His Memphis Mob or something), it would have fired up again in the Fifties, I am sure.]
Here's an informal list:

Ace Brigode and his 14 Virginians
Bennie's Louisville Rhythm Kings
Bix and His New Orleans Lucky Seven
Cotton Pickers [OM5]
Dave Macon, The Dixie Dew Drop 
Dixie Jazz Band
Dixie Marimba Players
Dixie Rhythm Kings
Eddie South and His Alabamians
Florida Four
Gene Austin (The Voice of the Southland)
Henry Barth's Mississippians
Jack Wynn's Dallas Dandies
Jazz Bo's Carolina Serenaders
Joe Condulo's Everglades Orch
King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators
Louisiana Rhythm Kings
Lovin' Sam (The Sheik of Alabam')
Mason-Dixon Orchestra
New Orleans Rhythm Kings
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Original Memphis Five
Rube Bloom & His Bayou Boys
Singin' Sam from Alabam
Kate Smith, the Song Bird of the South and her Swanee Music
Southern Serenaders
Tennessee Happy Boys
The Tennessee Tooters

Billy Cotton and his London Savannah Band

Hope this helps,

Rodger Holtin
Henderson, TN

For best results use Victor Needles

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