Cover for SENGSTOCK: That Toddlin' Town: Chicago's White Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1900-1950. Click for larger image

That Toddlin' Town

Chicago's White Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1900-1950

The business behind the bands and how music became an industry

In the 1920s and 1930s, Chicago became a center for jazz and blues, vaudeville, and a budding recording industry. Not surprisingly, the city and its environs spawned and nurtured a sprawling scene of nationally recognized dance bands and orchestras.

That Toddlin' Town focuses on the untold history of Chicago's white dance bands, theater orchestras, radio studio ensembles, and nightclub bands. Charles A. Sengstock Jr. draws on monumental research to portray the bands not only in terms of their music but also in the context of the venues in which they played and Chicago's volatile economic and social climate. Viewing the bands as parts of an economic system, he analyzes them as businesses facing all the usual pressures brought on by ambition, personality clashes, financial realities, and the overriding need to serve clients. He also examines how the bands--along with their charismatic leaders, powerful booking agencies, and the Chicago Federation of Musicians--impacted the music industry at large and influenced other entertainment media.


"That Toddlin' Town is clearly a labor of love. Its detail and research is generally as dependable as an old dance partner."--Chicago Sun-Times

"There's a tremendous amount of information in this book, which serves both as a history of the band business and a story of the individual bands and the places they played."--Jazzbeat


Charles A. Sengstock Jr. is the author of Jazz Music in Chicago's Early South-Side Theaters.

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