Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines: The Riverboat Shuffle

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Today is the birthday of jazz coronetist (and piano player) Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931). A native of Davenport, Iowa, he was a product of private schools who found himself irresistably drawn to the hot new music that was then igniting all across the country. In 1922, he was thrown out of Lake Forest Academy for sneaking out after curfew to go to speakeasies to listen to, and sometimes play with, jazz bands. He became a full time professional immediately thereafter. While his most famous affiliation was with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra from 1927 until his death in 1931, he was already making waves in 1923 with his first band the Wolverines. Here they are in 1924 performing “The Riverboat Shuffle”. Bix starts to take over at about 1:04.

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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