Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fake Kentuckians of 1919

One from our Creeps Records mp3 blog:

Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders cut a lot of great early Jazz records in the 1920s, and constantly toured the USA and England with their Kentucky-themed band. A jazzed-up cover of Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" was their signature tune.

Thing is, though, the band weren't Kentuckians, as least as far as we know. There's no evidence that they even played here. Hamp himself was from Lancaster, PA.

The band predated Hamp as The Serenaders, but at some point in the late 1910s he filled in for the band's regular leader (was he from Kentucky, mayhaps?) and ended up staying on permanently. By 1919 they were touring regularly and had renamed themselves Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders, for reasons that still defy logical explanation - not that any is really needed for the nomenclature of fly-by-night dixieland orchestras.

Their biggest hit was 1926's Black Bottom" (Victor 20101-B) which started a nationwide dance craze that become associated with Kentucky to some extent, despite the apparent lack of actual connection.

From 1931 on they dropped the Kentucky Serenaders name and simply became The Johnny Hamp Orchestra, lasting a few more years before hanging it up for good as World War II loomed on the horizon.

Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders - Black Bottom

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