Dance Bands in Chester & North Wales, 1930 – 1970: Revealing a Hidden History
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractDance bands in Chester and North Wales, 1930 - 1970 : Revealing a Hidden History “… the work of local amateur musicians is not just haphazard or formless, the result of individual whim or circumstance. On the contrary, a consistent - if sometimes changing - structure lies behind these surface activities. The public events … are part of an invisible but organised system through which individuals make their contribution to both the changes and the continuities of English music today.” (Finnegan, 2007) Chester (UK) in the period around World War II had a thriving live dance music scene, in which most of the music-making was done by local semi-professional musicians. Although they were busiest in the 1940s and 50s, many of the bands involved continued to operate alongside groups playing rock 'n' roll and pop, often in the same venues and sometimes at the same events, and the infrastructure which had supported the dance bands is an essential, if under-recorded, part of the history of rock 'n' roll and beat bands in the area (including the Beatles). This presentation looks at evidence from a recently-completed Ph.D. project to investigate how this local dance band scene worked, including the nature and evolution of its 'invisible but organised' underlying structure. The majority of the data was collected from private sources, with the aim of recording information which was not available in a single, academically-accessible archive. Fieldwork included over 30 recorded interviews with musicians, promoters and dancers. It also yielded more than 200 photographs and images which helped to illuminate the world of the bands, musicians and venues mentioned, and to produce a comprehensive snapshot of the local dance band scene, covering as wide a range as possible of social and musical backgrounds and experiences. Inspirations for this oral history project include The Hidden Musicians (Finnegan, 2007), Jazz Places (Becker, 2004), Rock Culture in Liverpool (Cohen, 1991), Other Voices (Brocken, 2010) and Victory Through Harmony (Baade, 2013). It is hoped that combining ideas from these and other sources with a detailed investigation of this specific local scene, as this work has done, will contribute further to a better understanding of amateur and semi-professional music-making in an urban landscape. Becker, Howard S. (2004). Jazz Places. In A. Bennett & R. A. Peterson (Eds.), Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual (pp. 17 - 27): Vanderbilt University Press. Brocken, Michael. (2010). Other voices : hidden histories of Liverpool's popular music scenes, 1930s - 1970s: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Cohen, Sara. (1991). Rock Culture in Liverpool : Popular Music in the Making: Oxford University Press. Finnegan, Ruth H. . (2007). The Hidden Musicians: Music-Making in an English Town: Wesleyan University Press.
CitationSouthall, H. V. (2015). Dance bands in Chester & North Wales, 1930 – 1970: Revealing a hidden history. Unpublished Conference Presentation
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