“For Your Dining And Dancing Pleasure . . . ” – Sweet Bands Of 1953 – Past Daily Artifacts
Chuck Cabot and His Orchestra – Live from The Empire Room, Rice Hotel Houston – April 11, 1953 – CBS Radio Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
They were called Sweet Bands because what they played was uncomplicated, simple-straightforward and were there for no other reason but to entertain.
They were around from post World-War 1 until the late 1950s when a combination of things; Rock n’ Roll, Youth Culture, changes in social customs rendered the Sweet Band a relic of a bygone age.
There was nothing wrong with them, but they were representing a time rapidly passing by – a time of Cold War, and in the time of this broadcast, the Korean War. Mid-way through there is a plug for an upcoming radio program; Bomb Target U.S.A. – a semi-documentary about a fictional (presumably Russian) fleet of nuclear bombers, flying over the major cities in the U.S., potentially turning every City in America to radioactive rubble. Scary stuff – and the carefree strains of Chuck Cabot and His Orchestra or the hundreds just like him, playing in hotel ballrooms and swank supper clubs from Bangor Maine to Chula Vista California, just didn’t seem something America wanted to do much anymore. There was also the Baby-Boom and nights out for new parents was a rarity and getting rarer as time went on.
That’s not to say all Big Bands, or even Sweet Bands disappeared from the scene. But if you were a working musician and your bread and butter was playing these gigs regularly, it signaled it was time to either get out of the business or join the ranks of the fiercely competitive for the lucrative studio sessions that were springing up, primarily in major cities.
This isn’t music that’s going to change your life, just like it wasn’t going to change your life in 1953. It was there to get you dancing and enjoying an evening out. Simple as that.
And radio factored in there too, as all the networks ran the gamut of music programs during this time – it was a staple in the musical diet. This was, after all Mainstream Pop Music – along with the Patti Paige’s, Perry Como’s and Giselle McKenzie’s of the world.
So toss your brain back to 1953 and imagine you’ve never heard anything vaguely resembling Rock n’ Roll, weren’t a fan of Be-Bop, and Country-Western just wasn’t you.
Come back in a half-hour. Here is Chuck Cabot and his Orchestra with Lyn Avalon on vocals as they held court at The Empire Room of the Rice Hotel in Houston Texas on April 11, 1953 and broadcast nationwide over CBS.
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