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Home History Rye Beach, Summer of 1937 & Les Brown

Rye Beach, Summer of 1937 & Les Brown

Ken Dutton, now 95 years young, spent the summer of 1937 playing for the big band Les Brown and His Blue Devils at Rye Beach. The Charlotte Observer had the story:

"His first paying job was in 1934 and first had to join the Musicians Union. Every Monday, he went into the union hall in Philadelphia, and anyone looking for a bass player would come there to find one. In Ken's words, "If you were lucky, you got a gig."

In 1936, he was particularly lucky, and was selected to play on tour with Les Brown and his band, known at the time as the Duke Blue Devils. In 1938, Brown reformed the band into Les Brown and the Band of Renown…

With all that driving and playing, Dutton said he occasionally "ran out of steam," so he and the other musicians in the band welcomed the summer of 1937, when they spent the whole season playing at the pavilion in Rye Beach, N.Y. Not only were they off the road for several weeks, but they did some live radio broadcasting as well.

Dutton was complimentary of bandleader Les Brown, and described Brown as a fine person, gifted composer and arranger. He said how Utica Conservatory-trained Brown could sit at dinner with a notebook and compose a song "just like you or I would write a letter." That evening, or the next day, the band would play it."

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