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Drew's Blues

A Sideman's Life with the Big Bands

240 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Music

  Paperback / 9780807124963 / March 1999

“Congratulations on a much needed book on the Big Band era, especially from the viewpoint of the ‘side man’. Having been one for about eight years before becoming a ‘leader’ I can really appreciate your approach. A bandleader is no better than the men behind him and I have had some great ones, including of course Drew Page.” —Freddy Martin

Having lived behind the scenes during the Big Band era of the thirties and forties, Page invites us to share that era with him. An instrumentalist or sideman, in many touring bands, he recounts friendships with now-famous as well as unknown musicians who made American dance music. Like them, Drew Page loved his music and the road.

He did not want to stay in one place and one job for thirty years, repeating one year or experience thirty times. He wanted to see things, to observe people and places. After a lifetime of traveling and music, “every town began to seem like home.”

Page’s life was touched with humor, disappointment, triumph, and some tragedy. “ Perhaps it’s the variety of my experiences, none seeming to relate to the others, that has given my life its discontinuity.” Certainly, discontinuity characterized his daily life, but continuity–his music–characterized its essence. Brought together by their art, the traveling bandmembers were apt to encounter each other any place, any time, and so they avoided goodbyes. “I’ll be seeing you.’ That’s the way I left Harry James and the boys in the band,” recalls Page.

In this well-illustrated autobiography, he tells us what it was like to travel in the days before paved roads, and how the Great Depression, the death of vaudeville, and World War II affected the music business. He gives us anecdotes about the famous musicians he worked with–Harry James, Red Nichols, Freddy Martin among others–and he talks about his fellow sidemen. His narrative unrolls like a scroll inscribed with the names of those who made American dance music and jazz famous. Every music lover, nostalgia seeker, and student of American culture will want to own this book. 

Drew Page has traveled with Harry James, Scat Davis, Jack Crawford, Ben Pollack, the Russ Morgan band under Jack Morgan, among many. He has played state fairs, ballrooms, jazz concerts, and radio broadcasts from Dallas to Miami, New York, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas and has toured with Hello, Dolly and Cabaret.

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