TRACING LINDA KEENE, PART 2: THE MOMENT IN MY LIFE

 

    Welcome to the second in a series of blahgs where I try to trace musical star Linda Keene through the media.  Early Photo of Linda KeeneIf you haven’t read my two previous blahgs about Linda then you really should because it will give you context.  In my first blahg, Down A Rabbit Hole With Linda Keene, I talk about how I became fascinated with Linda Keene.  After that blahg, I noted that I couldn’t get Linda Keene off my mind and I wanted to find out more.  I decided that other than the two articles, one by Prof. Eves Raja and the other by Opal Nations, I needed to see if I could trace her through old newspapers and magazines and find out what happened in her life.  In the last blahg, TRACING LINDA KEENE, PART 1: THE FLORENCE SUTTLE YEARS I traced Linda from her first newspaper appearance under her original name as Florence McCroy through her years under her married name of Florence Suttle.  At the end of that blahg, she had made the transformation to Linda Keene. 

   Although my last blahg was detailed in some aspects, I believe it was lacking in others.  It is very difficult now 80 years later to try and trace Linda’s movements.  There are some good resources online and a number of websites where you can search through old periodicals.  The difficulty comes if some newspapers do not have searchable text.  Also, that says nothing of newspapers that are not available to review at all.  I’ve tried to expand my scope to include magazines of the time like Variety and Billboard but these do not always have searchable text options therefore I’m bound to miss something and have to resort to scanning page after page trying to catch her name.  In this Part 2, I am now going to try and piece together her movements from late 1937 through 1945. 

   It is not without design that I chose to focus on these particular years.  In 1937, Florence Suttle made the change to Linda Keene; naming herself after Ginger Rogers’ character in 1937’s “Shall We Dance”.  By 1945 she had made the last of her officially released recordings.  Her star appeared to be on the rise and she was seeking fame and recognition.  There is a line in her recording of “You’re The Moment In My Life” that goes “You’re the moment in my life that comes and goes, but then again, I don’t suppose, you were ever meant to stay.”  She might have been singing about fame in those lyrics.  That’s why I chose it as part of the title of this blahg.  1937 to 1945 was the moment in her life.  Clever?  I have my moments too. 

   In my two previous blahgs dedicated to Linda Keene, I reprinted articles about her by Opal Nations and Prof. Eves Raja.  Prof. Raja also produced the wonderful CD “Linda Keene – Recordings and Soundies.”  I finally located a copy of this excellent CD and found that the booklet included in the CD was another source of information produced by Prof. Raja.  Here are reprints of the booklet which I will refer to throughout this blahg. 

Linda Keene Booklet Page 1

Linda Keene Booklet Page 2

Linda Keene Booklet Page 3

I won’t revisit the early years when she was appearing around the USA as Florence Suttle but will draw on this booklet and the other article by Prof. Raja and the one by Opal Nations, along with my own research, to try and chronicle Linda Keene’s movements beginning with 1937. 

1937

   When I last left off my previous blahg, Florence Suttle is Linda KeeneFlorence Suttle had made her transformation to Linda Keene and was appearing with Nye Mayhew’s band in Boston, as evidenced in the article from Birmingham News on December 4th, 1937.
Linda Keene with Nye Mayhew September 1937 To be accurate however, Linda Keene had been appearing with Nye Mayhew since September 30th.   
The article to the left from The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), September 25th, 1937 states “Nye Mayhew and his orchestra will open at the Hotel Statler, Thursday evening,” which would make the opening on September 30th, 1937.  Linda received her first media mention, that I could find, under her new name with the compliment that she was a “charming girl from New Orleans, who combines a soft, mellow contralto voice with an ability to hit a falsetto range.”  She was in reality from Mississippi but maybe this was part of her reinvention. 

   On the first page of the CD Booklet, Prof. Raja provided the following information:

“When Linda Keene arrived in Boston in the fall of 1937, she had convinced all those in the entertainment circles that she was 19 when her true age was actually 25. She was determined to succeed in the highly competitive world of professional singers despite the constant flow of new young talent.”

Was changing her age along with her name, another part of her transformation?  I find it unlikely that she would not try to build on the reputation she had made while singing as Florence Suttle with George Duffy’s orchestra in 1935 or her appearances at the Mayfair Room in Detroit in 1936, and subsequent appearances with Coleman Sachs in Birmingham for six weeks at Club Rex and her stint in Atlanta at the ill-fated Casa Loma.  Okay, maybe she might have left the Casa Loma off her résumé but you’ll have to read my previous blahg for details on that.  Suffice it to say, she had a good history and lying about her age would have eroded that history…unless Nye Mayhew believed she was performing with George Duffy when she was 16 or 17 in order to keep up with the change in her age. 

   It has been difficult to determine how long Linda stayed with Nye Mayhew in Boston.  Prof. Raja’s booklet states “a very promising seven week stand at the Statler in Boston and her first job as a band singer with Nye Mayhew moved her up to the next level.”  Seven weeks would have put her stay with Mayhew around the end of November.  The notice below from Billboard Magazine November 27, 1937 traces acts and notes where they are appearing.  According to this, Linda was still at The Statler with Mayhew as of the time of this notice:

Billboard 1937-11-27

Ads like the one to the right from the Boston Globe, October 14, 1937, ran throughout October and November but none mentioned Linda Keene.  In fact Mayhew’s band was still playing at the Statler up to April 29, 1938.  There was a small mention of Mayhew and his orchestra in the Boston College Heights newsletter from May 6, 1938 stating Mayhew had finished up at the Statler the previous Friday, being April 29.

Nye Mayhew at Statler in 1938

I can find nothing that mentions when Linda took her departure as vocalist with Mayhew’s band.  I can also find no other mention in print for Linda Keene in 1937.  

1938

   1938 was a significant year for Linda.  After the last notice regarding Linda in the Birmingham News in December of 1937, I found nothing in print for her until the end of October 1938 (more on that later).  It wasn’t until I expanded my search that I actually came across an article that mentioned what we long heard and suspected of Linda Keene in 1938.  In The Times Record (Troy, New York) from February 25, 1954 there was an article about ‘local boy’ Al Masten who had performed with Glenn Miller’s Orchestra from 1938 to 1941.  The article, besides carrying a picture of Masten, also highlighted the picture below of the band at  Hamid’s Million Dollar Steel Pier in Atlantic City: 

Linda Keene with Glenn MillerLinda Keene is mentioned as Linda “Keane” but it’s a wonderful photo, which you can click on to get a larger image, that proves that Linda Keene was with Miller’s Orchestra in 1938.  A very similar picture to the one above is to be found in the book “Chattanooga Choo Choo: The Life and Times of the World Famous Glenn Miller” by Richard Grudens:

Linda Keene with Glenn Miller 1938The photo also includes signatures of everyone in the photo, including Linda’s, but furthermore narrows down the date of the Steel Pier engagement to August 1938. 

   There are other books and articles that talk about Glenn Miller and the summer of 1938.  From John Flower’s book, “Moonlight Serenade A bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band”, Flower discusses 1938 and we learn the following: 

During the summer the female vocalist position had a turnover: Virginia Vonne replaced Gail Reese and Linda Keene replaced Virginia Vonne.

September 1938: Sometime during this month Glenn signed a recording contract with RCA Victor…also during this month Marion Hutton joined the band replacing Linda Keane as vocalist.

Flower mentions Linda once as “Keene” and then as “Keane”.  Keane was how she was represented in the 1954 article in The Times Record (Troy, New York).  Flower’s work also includes an itinerary of dates from 1938 including recording sessions and concert appearances.  Unfortunately none of the concert appearances note the date that Linda Keene joined with Miller.  There exists a few radio transcriptions of Glenn Miller’s Orchestra from 1938 and the one from June 27th, 1938 still has Gail Reese singing with the band.  So, Linda Keene would have had to become the female vocalist after that but before the appearance in August at Hamid’s Million Dollar Pier.  Glenn Miller at Atlantic CityThe advertisement on the left is from The Morning Post (Camden, New Jersey) August 19, 1938.  If Glenn Miller was appearing for a week, ending August 26, then it is likely the appearances at the Pier began on August 19th.  There would be other advertisements similar to this one but Linda Keene’s name is not mentioned.  

   I have tried to follow the itinerary in John Flower’s book by checking periodicals starting with Glenn Miller’s appearance at Beach Point Club, Mamaroneck, Long Island on August 13th, through the band’s appearance at Hamid’s Million Dollar Pier, and on into September ending with the band at the Memorial Auditorium, in Raleigh, North Carolina September 9th and 10th, 1938.  I have found one advertisement and two articles for some of those dates: 

Glenn Miller August 15, 1938

August 15, 1938, Lakewood Park, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania

Glenn Miller August 27, 1938

August 17 – September 2nd, 1938, Guy Hunt’s Ocean Pier, Wildwood, New Jersey

Glenn Miller September 9, 1938

September 9/10, 1938 Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, North Carolina

None of these articles or advertisements mention Linda Keene.  We can only assume that Marion Hutton replaced Linda Keene in late August or early September.  Glenn Miller was looking for a sound and Marion Hutton would be his female vocalist on and off from 1938 until 1942.  Linda Keene gets credit for working with MillerWith any other singer, you could say singing with Glenn Miller’s Orchestra was the height of fame.  With Linda Keene, she came and went too quickly with the band.  She was still getting credit as late as November of 1938 for the time she served with Miller.  The article to the left is from the The Journal (Meriden, Connecticut), November 25th, 1938 and Linda Keene was still being associated with Miller’s name.  Miller’s Orchestra wouldn’t really make it big until 1939 and become the Glenn Miller Orchestra we know today. 

   Although 1938 appeared to be short on mentioning Linda Keene in the media, the year was still a success.  She had a short run with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and by the end of the year had made her first recording.  Linda Keene is with Bobby Hackett at Nick'sShe may have left Miller in September but by the end of October she had hooked up with Bobby Hackett and was appearing with him at Nick’s in New York.  The article to the right was a wire service article that ran in several papers on October 30th, 1938.  On November 4th, 1938 Linda Keene entered the studio for the first time with Bobby Hackett for her recording “Blue and Disillusioned”, first issued on the Vocalion label:

Blue & Disillusioned - Vocalion

  Then issued on the cheaper OKEH label:

Blue & Disillusioned - Okeh

I have not been able to find any information about how Linda ended up performing with and recording with Bobby Hackett and his Orchestra.  It is possible her reputation had grown through her appearances with Nye Mayhew and then with Glenn Miller. 

   The song, “Blue and Disillusioned” is a solid blues effort from Linda.  Back when she was appearing under her married name, Florence Suttle, the Clarion-Ledger ran ads on July 2nd and July 3, 1933 for her appearance in the Midnite Frolic at the Majestic Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi and dubbed her “Blues Singer.”  Five years later, with Bobby Hackett, she made it official.  The label categorizes the song as a Fox Trot and Linda’s first attempt is soulful and full of her southern intonations. review of Blue & Disillusioned  I could find only three reviews of “Blue and Disillusioned.”  The first one appeared in the New York Columbia Spectator, New York, New York from December 15, 1938.  “Hampered by a long vocal by Linda Keene” was all it said about Linda but that had to be damaging to read that. Second Review of "Blue and Disillusioned"The second was from the Barnard Bulletin (New York, New York) on January 10, 1939 where the vocal is reviewed as “competently done by Linda Keene.  The third was from the Review of Blue and Disillusioned from Virginia-PilotVirginia-Pilot from Norfolk, Virginia where the article from January 29, 1939 failed to mention Linda’s vocal at all.

   Linda must have taken the poor review in stride or maybe there were better reviews by the end of 1938 because she was still working by the end of 1938.  Jumping ahead a bit, a very strange little picture and article ran in many newspapers in January of 1939.   The one below, exactly like all the others, ran in the The Cushing Daily Citizen (Cushing, Oklahoma) on January 25th, 1939:
Linda is in BermudaThe notoriety of this picture and caption was really more for Lefty Gomez, the star pitcher with the New York Yankees.  It mentions that Linda Keene is a soloist with an orchestra at a Hamilton hotel.  I was able to access the archives for The Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily, Hamilton, Bermuda and found this article from the December 20th, 1938 issue:

Linda Keene in Bermuda 1938

Linda was now appearing with Scott Fisher and his Orchestra starting on December 19, 1938.  Fisher and his Orchestra had also recorded for Vocalion in the 1930s.  I wonder if there was any connection?  The following favorable article about Linda’s appearance appeared in The Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily on Christmas Eve, 1938: 

Article about Linda in Bermuda Christmas Eve 1938

This review was a better way to finish out 1938 than the poor review of her first recording.

1939

 What a great way to start off 1939, working in Bermuda.  Ads such as the two below began appearing in The Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily as early as January 3, 1939 and continued until nearly the end April: 

Linda Keene in Bermuda January 1939

Ad for Linda Keene in Bermuda

The last advertisement mentioning “Songs by Linda Keene”, exactly like the one above appeared Wednesday, April 26, 1939.  On April 27th, Linda’s name was noticeably absent: 

Linda Keene has left Bermuda

Even the Arthur Murray Dancers seemed to be gone.  Scott Fisher would close out  the season at The Bermudian on May 10th as noted in the final advertisement from The Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily on May 8th, 1939: 

Scott Fisher closes out the season

   We next pick up Linda Keene’s trail on May 5, 1939 when she’s in New York and records the “B” side of a 78 with Jack Teagarden’s “Octoroon” on the “A” side.  This time it’s Linda’s second recording and she’s the “girl” with Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra “Featuring 16 men and a girl” and her vocal on “White Sails”

White Sails with Linda Keene

WHITE SAILS –LINDA KEENE with JACK TEAGARDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Just a week prior to this recording, on April 28th, 1939 Teagarden had been in the studio recording with Jean Arnold.  We know that Linda Keene last performed in Bermuda on April 26th.  Was she called up by Teagarden?  By 1939, both Brunswick and Vocalion were owned by Columbia Records.  Again, was this the connection?  Reviews were favorable but of the handful of reviews that I found, none mention Linda Keene’s vocals:

Teagarden was fronting a new band and he had a new girl singer.  Linda’s vocal on “White Sails”  is a wispy perfect song for dancing.  It’s not the blues like her first recording and it doesn’t hamper the band’s music.  It’s a nice compliment and she seems confident. 

   On June 4, 1939, there was a small notice that ran in newspapers announcing that Jackson Teagarden’s band would be the guests on the “Fitch Summer Bandwagon” that day.  Fitch Bandwagon Ad June 4, 1939There’s no mention of Linda Keene in the notice but the program survives as a radio transcription and from it, three vocals by Linda Keene who was now well established with the band. 

FITCH SUMMER BANDWAGON JUNE 4, 1939 WITH JACK TEAGARDEN AND LINDA KEEN

The significant track here is of course “Tears From My Inkwell,” as the other two only have brief lines sung by Linda.  I want to give a shout out to Greg Poppleton out in Australia, which is as far away from Canada as you can get unless you loop over the top.  Greg, among other things, hosts a podcast called “Phantom Dancer” https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/Jack Teagarden Birth of a BandBack on June 23, 2015 Greg’s podcast included the live track of “Tears From My Inkwell” from the Fitch Bandwagon program.  Unfortunately I could not find an archive of Greg’s 2015 podcast so I could hear the song but when I reached out to him through Facebook he got my request.  Exactly five years later, on his recent June 23, 2020 podcast, Greg included the track again and I was able to hear it for the first time.  The entire June 4, 1939 Fitch Summer Bandwagon program was issued on the LP “Birth Of A Band” in 1985 on the Giants of Jazz Records label.  If you want to find out more about Greg Poppleton you can also check out his website:  https://gregpoppleton.wordpress.com/

   The other takeaway from the the Fitch Summer Bandwagon program was hearing that Teagarden and band including Linda Keene were appearing at the Blackhawk Restaurant in Chicago. At some point, prior to entering the Blackhawk, Teagarden’s Orchestra with Linda Keene were appearing at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.  In George T Simon’s 1971 book, “Simon Says : The Sights and Sounds of the Swing Era, 1935-1955” he republishes a June 1939 review of Teagarden and Keene at the Roseland:

1939-06 Simon Review of Teagarden 2Simon Review of Teagarden 31939-06 Simon Review of Teagarden 4Jack Teagarden starting May 18, 1939

   There is no telling when Linda Keene joined up with Teagarden but in Simon’s article he states that Teagarden was at the Roseland for almost two months before appearing at the Blackhawk.  Teagarden with his “16 Men and A Girl” started at the Blackhawk on May 18th, 1939 as can be noted from the ad from the Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) on May 14, 1939.  1939-06-02 Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois)Linda Keene left Bermuda in late April while Teagarden was still at the Roseland so it is likely she got her start there and then moved into the studio for the May 5th session.  Appearing at the Blackhawk, however, Linda Keene is officially recognized as the girl in in the “16 Men and a Girl” in the June 2nd advertisement. 

   It wasn’t difficult to track Jack Teagarden and his orchestra in the week leading up to his premiere at the Blackhawk.  The band played several one-nighters throughout Pennsylvania, probably after leaving the Roseland in New York, but none of the advertisements that I came across mentioned Linda Keene or the tag line of “16 Men and a Girl.”  Linda was probably travelling with the band as they made their way from New York to Chicago.  Linda is only mentioned with Teagarden during their run at the Blackhawk with some very good notices especially this one from the Chicago Tribune on June 25, 1939: 

Linda Keene at the Blackhawk June 25, 1939   Build up for Teagarden started on May 14th, 1939.

Build Up for Jack Teagarden May 14, 1939

There was some other good press throughout their run at the Blackhawk:

Linda Keene review at the Blackhawk

Chicago Daily Times, May 21, 1939

Linda Keene at the Black HawkChicago Daily Times, June 4, 1939

   The most significant thing to happen to Jack Teagarden and his “16 Men and a Girl” was that they went into the Brunswick recording studio in Chicago and recorded four songs on June 23, 1939. Two of the recordings,  contained vocals by Linda Keene, “Especially For You” and “You’re The Moment In My Life”:

Especially For You 78

ESPECIALLY FOR YOU –LINDA KEENE with JACK TEAGARDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

———————————-

You're The Moment In My Life

YOU’RE THE MOMENT IN MY LIFE –LINDA KEENE with JACK TEAGARDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA

 

A couple of articles suggest that both tunes were popular:Review of 2 78s # 2

Review of 2 78s #1

Both of these reviews ran in mid-August of 1939 but by then Linda Keene was no longer the girl singer with Jack Teagarden’s Orchestra. The last article that would appear for Linda Keene with Teagarden ran in the Chicago Daily Times on July 1st, 1939:

Linda Keeene and Teagarden at the Blackhawk

   It is difficult to speculate why Linda Keene parted ways with Jack Teagarden.  She had recorded three songs with Teagarden, totaling four when including “Blue and Disillusioned” with Bobby Hackett back in November of 1938.  Maybe Linda was ready to move on to other prospects.  Some research suggests that Teagarden’s band was having some financial difficulties in 1939 and Teagarden’s problems with alcohol were also an issue.  Did these contribute to Linda leaving the band?  The day after the July 1st, 1939 Chicago Daily Times  post with Linda and Teagarden’s pictures, a small notice ran in the Chicago Tribune on July 2nd: 

Linda Keene has left Teagarden

I can find nothing that proves the date that Linda Keene left Teagarden.  Obviously it was near the end of June or the beginning of July 1939.  One anomaly is that the following article appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Green Bay, Wisconsin) on August 8th: 

Linda Keene is mentioned for Wisconsin

I have checked ads for the engagement at the Bay Beach but none of them mention Linda Keene.  Linda Keene was not in WisconsinA review of the appearance ran in the August 7th, Green Bay Press-Gazette but there is no mention of Linda but rather Avis Kent who sang. More than likely, some advance notice included Linda while she was still with the Teagarden’s Orchestra and was not corrected in time. 

   So where was Linda?  As I said, I cannot pinpoint an exact date or reason why she left Teagarden but by the time of his Bay Beach performance in Wisconsin, Linda Keene was already back in New York.  Linda Keene with Willie FarmerAn article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) on August 11, 1939 reports that Linda Keene is appearing with Willie Farmer and his Orchestra at the Park Central Cocoanut Grove.  I could not determine a start date for Linda with Willie Farmer but a search of New York newspapers revealed in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Friday July 28th, 1939 that Willie Farmer started at the Park Central on Wednesday, July 26, 1939.  Farmer starts at the Park Central on July 26, 1938

The same edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Friday July 28th, 1939 also carried the following photo of Linda Keene:

Linda Keene appearing with Willie Farmer

This clearly establishes Linda Keene with Willie Farmer’s orchestra; suggesting she opened with Farmer on July 26th.  Linda’s name would begin appearing in the August 26th and September 2, 1939 issues of Billboard for Route information for singers and acts: 

Linda Keene Route Billboard 19-09-39

It is possible that information was not submitted for Linda Keene when she started with Farmer when they opened together on July 26th.  There was also a Billboard review of Willie Farmer and his orchestra in the September 9th, 1939 issue.  The review was not kind to Farmer but Linda received a good notice: 

Review of Willie Farmer in Billboard 1939-09-09

Another oddity is that the Billboard route information for Linda Keene on August 26th had her at the Park Central in New York but the previous night, August 25th,  she was advertised as being at the Roton Point Park in Stamford, Connecticut with Willie Farmer. The Daily Advocate out of Stamford, Connecticut ran a good size advertisement the day of their appearance:

Linda Keene and Willie Farmer at Roton Point Park

Willie Farmer and his Orchestra had been around for a few years and had released a number of sides on the Bluebird Label in 1937 and 1938.  Linda Keene would not record with Farmer.

   Willie Farmer and his Orchestra were not listed in the Billboard route information for Orchestras in the September 16, 1939 issue.  It is possible that after their bad review in Billboard on September 9th that their run at the Park Central came to a quick end.  I found no trace of Willie Farmer and his Orchestra with Linda Keene until I stumbled upon an old advertisement posted by the Albany Group Archive on Flickr: 

1939 Willie Farmer at The New Goblet, Albany

There was no indication when this advertisement appeared or in what newspaper.  I only assumed it would be Albany, New York because Farmer and his Orchestra were in New York City in September when they finished at the Park Central. Willie Farmer and Linda Keene opened October 12, 1939 in Albany I was eventually able to access the Times Union newspaper from Albany and the October 12th, 1939 edition confirmed the opening night at the Goblet was October 12th.  Review of Farmer and KeeneThe Albany Times Union on October 14th also reviewed Farmer’s opening at the Goblet on October 12th but only mentioned Linda Keene’s name briefly.  The Times Union on October 21st, 1939 Farmer and Keene at the Goblet on October 21st, 1939wrote again about Farmer and his Orchestra at the Goblet and this time noted “Linda Keene, charming song stylist.”  The article also detailed Farmer’s previous engagements at the Coconut Grove and prior to that having been at the Promenade Cafe.  I have found no evidence if Linda Keene joined Farmer at the Promenade Cafe or if she was still with Jack Teagarden.  The last advertisement for the Goblet that I have found having any further mention of Farmer and Linda Keene also appeared in the October 21st, 1939 edition of the Albany Times Union:

Farmer and Keene at the Goblet October 21st, 1939

   The Billboard Route information for Orchestras had listings for Willie Farmer and his Orchestra at the Goblet in Albany in all of the Billboard issues from November 4th, 1939 up to and including December 30th, 1939.  None of those issues mentioned Linda Keene in the Route information for singers.  It is not clear if Linda Keene was in Albany or perhaps started out in Albany but did not finish the run with Willie Farmer and his Orchestra.  One thing is clear, by the end of 1939, Linda Keene was not appearing with Willie Farmer. 

   As with her appearances with Jack Teagarden, there is another anomaly for Linda Keene in the fall of 1939. Apparently, according to The Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey), Linda Keene appeared as part of the “Vaudeville Night of Stars” at the New Deal Long Bar in Passaic on November 7, 1939:

Linda Keene in Passaic, NJ, 1939-11-07

Notice that the advertisement calls attention to the fact that Linda was “formerly with Jack Teagarden Orchestra” and does not mention any connection to Willie Farmer and his Orchestra.  I scrolled through other editions from The Herald-News but Linda Keene’s name does not appear in any subsequent ads for the New Deal Long Bar after November 7th.  This mystery doesn’t help in proving how long Linda Keene stayed with Willie Farmer and his Orchestra at The Goblet in Albany.

LENNIE HAYTON

   We do know for sure that Linda Keene was not with Farmer and his Orchestra by late November 1939. Loew's State Ad November 24, 1939 At some point, Linda took up with Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra and was appearing with him at Loew’s State theatre in New York starting November 24th.  Linda Keene is not listed in the advertisements that ran in New York papers but according to Billboard magazine she was with Hayton during his engagement at Loew’s State.  Billboard reviewed Hayton on November 24th and ran their review in the December 2, 1939 issue.  Billboard Review of Hayton November 24, 1939This time, unlike with Billboard’s review of Willie Farmer, the band is good but “Linda Keene is just fair.”  Hayton and his Orchestra would finish at Loew’s State on November 29th. 

   On November 30th, according to Billboard,  Hayton and his Orchestra were booked into Leon and Eddie’s for 4 weeks.  Hayton is booked for 4 weeks into L & E

Even the Evening Sun (Hanover, Pennsylvania) made note of it in their December 2, 1939 issue.  Billboard also made mention of Hayton and his Orchestra at Leon and Eddie’s in their Route information for Orchestras in their December 2, 9, 16, and 23rd issues.  Again, Linda Keene is not mentioned.

   Linda Keene must have been with Hayton while he was at Leon and Eddie’s because a week after they started there the Orchestra was in the Varsity Records studio on December 7, 1939 with Linda Keene.  Varsity was one of two labels that comprised the United States Record Company; Royale Records was the other. Eli Oberstein created the USRC in the summer of 1939, shortly after he left an executive position at RCA Victor. Varsity was considered a “budget” label, specializing in popular music and selling records for 35 cents each.  Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra would record four songs on December 7, 1939, “Peg O’ My Heart” backed with “As Long As I Live”, both instrumentals, and two sides with Linda Keene doing vocals on “At The Balalaika” and “The Starlit Hour”. 

Lennie Hayton with Linda Keene AT THE BALALAIKA –LINDA KEENE with LENNIE HAYTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

———————————-

Linda Keene with Lennie Hayton - Starlit HourTHE STARLIT HOUR –LINDA KEENE with LENNIE HAYTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

   There wasn’t much in the way of reviews for these two Linda Keene tracks with Hayton.  The only one I came across was this one from The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) January 13, 1940:Balalaika review 1930

The Lennie Hayton recordings are considered rare.  Varsity Records was a small label and did limited runs of their 78 records.  According to Professor Raja’s article, ‘Linda Keene – Her Elusive Fame’, “All shoe-string recording companies had to wait their turn regarding record manufacture and had a limited number of pressings. On Linda’s two records, apparently, there was very little shellac left over from a Glenn Miller hit. As a result, very few copies of these two records are known to exist.”   Many of Linda Keene’s other recordings with large Orchestras like Bobby Hackett’s and Jack Teagarden’s have been included on CD compilations of the early years of those orchestras but her recordings with Lennie Hayton remain limited to the obscure 78 records and of course Prof Raja’s CD “Linda Keene – Recordings and Soundies.”

   Hayton in his history as a band leader recorded two numbers as a leader in 1928 and then led a big band that recorded from 1937-40. When the band broke up in 1940, Hayton settled in Hollywood, where he worked for MGM as an arranger, conductor and musical director. He married the singer, Lena Horne in 1947 and thereafter served as her pianist, arranger and musical director.  Between 1937 and 1940, the Hayton band, booked by Mills Artists Incorporated, toured coast-to-coast, playing one-nighters and extended stay locations with a lineup that ranged from 12 to as many as 20 musicians.

  One of Hayton’s extended stay locations was of course Leon & Eddie’s in December of 1939.  Perhaps Linda was singing the two songs during the engagement at Leon & Eddie’s.  After that engagement ended during the last week of December, Lennie Hayton hit the road for the rest of December and into 1940.  We catch up to Lennie Hayton and Linda Keene from an article in the Irvington Gazette, Irvington, New York on December 21st, 1939.  Hayton is booked for New Year’s Eve at the County Center in White Plains, New York:

Lennie Hayton in White Plains, New York, New Years Eve 1939

Apparently Hayton and his Orchestra were part of a tour that headlined Gene Krupa and his Orchestra.  Another article announcing the appearance of the two Orchestras in White Plains ran in the  Brewster Standard, Brewster, New York on December 28, 1939: 

Another article about Hayton in White Plains

Linda Keene’s name does not appear in the advertisement:White Plains Ad 1939

    In all aspects, it appeared Linda Keene had a great year with 1939.  She had started 1939 during her engagement with Scott Fisher’s Orchestra in Bermuda and then was picked up by Jack Teagarden.  Three  recordings resulted with Teagarden and an appearance with his Orchestra on the national Fitch Summer Bandwagon program as well as appearances with Teagarden at the Roseland in New York and a five week run with Teagarden at the Blackhawk in Chicago.  She never stopped working and moved on to a hitch with Willie Farmer’s Orchestra for August through November before starting with Lennie Hayton and eventually recording two more songs with his Orchestra and then ending the year on tour with Lennie Hayton and Gene Krupa.  What would 1940 bring? Linda Keene has left Hayton for Pastor A hint came in small article in the December 27th, 1940 issue of Variety stating that Linda Keene had left Lennie Hayton’s Orchestra for Tony Pastor’s band.  Obviously incorrect as she was still with Hayton as of New Year’s Eve 1939 but a prediction of things to come?

1940

LENNIE HAYTON contd…

   Lennie Hayton and Linda Keene continued to tour in 1940.  Sometimes it was difficult to locate a listing for Lennie Hayton.  Sometimes his touring information was included in Billboard’s Orchestra Route information or other times it required scanning pages of Billboard or other periodicals that were not searchable.  Piecing together bit and pieces I was able to find some tour information for Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra in January of 1940.  On January 5, 1940 it is noted that Hayton will follow Krupa into the Roseland the following day.  This was the same Roseland where George Simon saw Linda Keene perform with Jack Teagarden in the spring of 1939 

Lennie Hayton at the Roseland

Variety mentions Hayton at RoselandVariety from January 3, 1940 also makes mention of Hayton moving into the Roseland after Georgie Auld.  The engagement at the Roseland may have lasted from two to three weeks. 1940-01-20 Billboard Billboard, from January 20, 1940 mentions that “Mal Hallett is the follow-upper to Lennie Hayton at Roseland Ballroom in another couple of weeks.”  This suggest a possible end date of the last week of January.  The January 20, 1940 Billboard article also puts down speculation that Linda Keene has moved over to the Tony Pastor orchestra.  Again the rumors were flying that Linda was considering a move to the Tony Pastor Orchestra.  New Orleans Item January 21, 1940Another article about Linda Keene joining up with Pastor would appear in the New Orleans Item on January 31, 1940.  Pastor would factor into Linda Keene’s future but in January 1940 her commitment was still with Hayton. 

   A small Billboard article from the February 3, 1940 issue noted Lennie Hayton into Boston

that Lennie Hayton was due at the Raymor Ballroom in Boston on January 27th through February 10th.  This must have been immediately following the stay at the Roseland in New York.  I could not find any advertisements in Boston papers for this engagement.  Directly after ending at the Raymor in Boston on February 10, Hayton and his Orchestra were booked into the New Yorker Hotel in New York

Hayton at the New Yorker

for a week starting February 11th.  Although Hayton’s tour was being well documented, Linda Keene’s information seemed to be lagging behind.  Linda Keane in BostonHer route information in Billboard for February 17th, February 24th, and March 2nd had her listed as still at the Raymor Ballroom; albeit with the listing misspelling her last name as “Keane”. 

   It was while Hayton was at the New Yorker Hotel that Billboard ran an interesting article in their February 17th issue on the success of “At the Balalaika” and “Starlit Hour”:

It is interesting that both songs were recorded by Hayton with Linda Keene doing vocals but neither artist is mentioned in the article.  There are other recordings of “At The Balalaika” from 1939 as well as a few for “The Starlit Hour” so the article might have been referring to the popularity of the songs and not specifically Hayton and Keene’s recordings.  Still, the fact that their record was out there in late 1939 and early 1940 might have bolstered sales by riding the wave of popularity of the two songs. 

   There is a slight gap in the route information for Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra after the engagement at the New Yorker Hotel ended on February 17th.  Linda’s own route information, as noted above, still had her at the Raymor in Boston but that must have been incorrect.  Billboard next notes that Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra were booked into the Flatbush in Brooklyn for February 22nd through the 28th.  The article below from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) February 21, 1940 notes the appearance and Linda Keene is also mentioned: 

Lennie Hayton at Flatbush with Linda Keene

The gap between the end of their appearance at the New Yorker Hotel on the 17th and the beginning of their two day showing at the Flatbush on February 22nd might have been due to Hayton and Keene preparing to return to the recording studio.  On February 20, 1940, Hayton and his Orchestra laid down four tracks at the Vocalion recording studio in New York:  “AC-DC Current”, “Square Scuttle”, “I Love You Too Much”, and “One Cigarette For Two”.  The last two songs contained vocals by Linda Keene. 

I Love You Too Much Lennie Hayton with Linda KeeneI LOVE YOU TOO MUCH –LINDA KEENE with LENNIE HAYTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

———————————-One Cigarette For TwoONE CIGARETTE FOR TWO –LINDA KEENE with LENNIE HAYTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Reviews for the two tracks with Linda Keene were generally good: 

The Times (Munster, Indiana) April 14, 1940

Madison Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin, April 21, 1940

 Billboard Review June 20, 1940

The Lennie Hayton and Linda Keene pairings on Vocalion and earlier on Varsity are, as one review puts it “not good, not bad.”  Certainly Linda’s voice is excellent but the songs are not memorable and certainly don’t seem to fit with Linda Keene with the exception of “I Love You Much Too Much”.  That song is haunting and the music and vocals are a perfect blend.  The recordings the previous year with Jack Teagarden were, as I’ve said, a compliment of the band and the vocalist.  There is a lushness in the Hayton recordings, perhaps better suited for dancing, but Linda had made and would make better recordings.  These were the last recordings by Lennie Hayton and his Orchestra.  Hayton and his Orchestra recorded 25 songs between April 1937 and February 1940.  A complete list can be found at

http://www.angelfire.com/music5/tony2003/html/lennie_hayton.htm

   Appearing at the Flatbush following the recording session, the advertisement for Lennie Hayton’s appearance from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), February 22, 1940 does not mention Linda Keene but the review from the same newspaper on February 23rd mentions her in passing:  Lennie Hayton at the Flatbush advertisement

 

Review of Lennie Hayton at the Flatbush

A scan of the movie listings in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle revealed a small ad each day ending with one from February 28th:  Flatbush, Church and Flatbush Aves…ON STAGE: Lenny Hayton & Orch.: Cass Daley, The Debonaires. Extra! Henry Armett.  Again, Linda Keene’s name is not mentioned. 

   March of 1940 presented a problem when tracking Linda Keene.  If we assume that Linda was still with Hayton then the Orchestra’s next appearance that I could trace was not until March 15th at the Fiesta Danceteria in New York.  On Wednesday, March 13th, the Daily News (New York, New York) announced “Lenny Hayton” starting on the Friday, March 15th.  Of course Hayton’s first name is misspelled.

Hayton at the FiestaThe engagement must have been for a week because an advertisement for the Fiesta ran on March 22nd without Hayton’s name.  The last advertisement with Hayton’s name, still misspelled, appeared in the Daily News on March 21st: 

Lenny Hayton March 21st Daily News

Again, Hayton is mentioned and Linda Keene is not.  After the Fiesta I could find nothing for the rest of March for Hayton and certainly nothing for Linda Keene at all.  The next mention of Lennie Hayton in the media was not favorable.  From the general news feed on April 9th, 1940, Hayton is Sickwe find that Hayton is in a Morristown, New Jersey hospital. Apparently Hayton recovered because the next article has Hayton and his Orchestra appearing on a national program on April 21st:

Hayton on the radio 1940-04-21

   There was no mention of Linda Keene in this small notice that appeared in most papers on April 20th.  Linda’s name appeared in none of the national magazines like Billboard nor in any of the newspapers in the New York area, assuming that Hayton and Keene were still performing in the area.  Billboard had no route information for both Lennie Hayton’s Orchestra and Linda Keene after the notice for the Fiesta in mid-March.  Linda Keene’s name last appeared in the review for the Flatbush in February.  Her route information in Billboard last had her listed at the Raymor in Boston in the March 2nd issue when we know in fact she was still with Hayton in February.  I have scanned through numerous periodicals, carefully line by line, and ad by ad, but Linda Keene’s name does not appear again until the summer of 1940.  As for Lennie Hayton, his prospects were brighter.  By mid-June wire services ran the following one line around June 26, 1940: 

Lennie Hayton gives up band

In fact, Hayton was arranging for Jimmy Dorsey and then was in Hollywood in the summer of 1940 arranging for Artie Shaw.  He moved on from that in 1940 and became a musical director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer until his retirement from the post in 1953.  As, I could find nothing more linking Linda Keene with Hayton I will drop that line and move on to the next phase of Linda’s career in 1940. 

RED NORVO

   From Prof. Raja’s article we learned that in the summer of 1940 Linda Keene “teamed up with Red Norvo’s band just as they were about to depart on a grueling six-month Mid-West and Southern States tour.”  This is in keeping with my research because Linda Keene’s trail was not documented, or not well documented, in the media for the spring of 1940 and nothing definitive suggests when she left Hayton or was still with Hayton when his orchestra disbanded in June of that year. 

   I want to provide some context regarding Red Norvo’s band in 1940.  There is probably a great deal of information to be found online regarding Norvo and his history but as it relates to Linda Keene, I want to back up to March of 1940.  A small notice was making the wire service news in most papers on March 23rd. Red Norvo calls it quits in March 1940
The one on the right is a sample from the Mason City Globe Gazette, Mason, Iowa.  Note, that the Red Norvo band is one of five swing bands that had folded around that time.  The truth, however, was something different.  The article below from Billboard a week later explains what Norvo was really doing:

Billboard 1940-04-30 Norvo Downsizes

  I chose not to include the second half of the article because it does not include information about Norvo.  More details on the restructuring of Norvo’s band appeared in the May 1940 issue of Metronome: 

Norvo's new band Metronome, May 1940

  My apologies for the image being cut off as that occurred at the source.  This is what I believe is the full text: 

-Norvo Brings Back
Soft Subtle Swing
Group for Hotels

Young Outfit Makes
Yelling and Snoring
Quite Unnecessary

Red Norvo has returned to his best bet: a small, soft, subtle swing
outfit. It consists of only nine men and musically and commercially it
is a potent piece of merchandise.

The band is ideally suited for hotel work, especially for rooms that cater
to the younger trade. Both the size and the style of the group result in
its playing soft music, and yet it maintains a moving swing that the
kids call for.

The instrumentation is a slight augmentation of the famous Norvo
septet of several years ago. It consists of a full, three-way sax section
one trumpet, one trombone, the usual four rhythm of piano, guitar,
bass, and drums, and, of course Norvo. He has switched from Xylophone
to marimba, the latter instrument being similar to the former
except that it has greater range. The change will give Norvo more
opportunities on the ballads especially.

The style of the band is definitely swing, but it is the classic proof of
the theory that swing can be solid and can be good that way, too
There is no blaring; instead the swing is achieved via the arrangements,
by the delicate rhythm figures, and of course by Norvo’s exciting
hammerings. There’s little danger of this group causing any
yelling or snoring on the part of patrons at dinner sessions.

Future plans of the organization are indefinite. It is being booked
by MCA, and will shortly wax disks for one of the major recording companies.

 

So the stage was set for Norvo’s next band and a tour that MCA would arrange; a tour that would include Linda Keene as vocalist with the band. 

   I began to search through posts for Red Norvo in 1940, going back to April and May to see if I could locate any reference to Linda Keene becoming Norvo’s new singer.  Linda Keene not yet singer with NorvoBack on May 22, 1940 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) ran a small article about Red Norvo’s Orchestra appearing at the Luna Park Ballroom but it was clear that Judy Abbott was the vocalist at that time.  I eventually found what I believe was the first concert where Linda Keene began with Norvo.  The list below is what I have been able to cobble together as the itinerary during Norvo’s six month tour.  It is probably by no means complete but all of these are documented.  There may have been other smaller towns or College or University campus appearances that are missing from this list:

  • Roton Park, Amusement Park, Stamford, Connecticut, June 30
  • Potomac Cruise, Washington DC, July 3-9
  • Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, –Unconfirmed date ending July 12
  • Moonlite Gardens Dance Pavilion of Coney Island, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 19 – 25
  • Crystal Beach Park, Vermilion, Ohio, July 28
  • Terrace Grill, Hotel Muehlebach, Kansas City, Missouri, August 2-22
  • Robinson Memorial Auditorium, Little Rock, Arkansas, August 23
  • Shreveport Country Club, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 24
  • Piatt County Fair, Cerro Gordo, Illinois, September 2, 1940 (cancelled)
  • Plantation, Dallas Texas, August 25-September 7
  • Eta Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Pi, Lake Worth Casino, Fort Worth, Texas, September 9
  • Turnpike Casino, Lincoln, Nebraska September 14
  • Terp Ballroom, Austin, Minnesota, September 25
  • Surf Ballroom, Mason City, Iowa, September 26
  • Palais Ballroom, South Bend, Indiana, September 28
  • The Rink Ballroom, Waukegan, Illinois, September 29
  • New Moon Theatre, Vincennes, Indiana, October 6
  • Tune Town Ballroom, St. Louis, Missouri, October 15 – 20
  • Crystal Palace, Paw Paw Lake, Coloma, Michigan, October 26
  • Wisconsin Roof Ballroom, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 27
  • Turkey’s Nest Club, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, October 30
  • Valley Dale, Columbus Ohio, November 2
  • The Cathedral, New Castle, Pennsylvania, November 5-6
  • The Graystone Ballroom, Detroit, Michigan, November 7-12
  • Trianon Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio, November 11 (Cancelled?)
  • The Grotto Ballroom, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 13
  • Kenyon Dance, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, November 15
  • Castle Farm, Cincinnati, Ohio, November 16
  • Trianon Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio, November 21
  • Annual Homecoming Dance, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, November 22
  • Union Theatre, New Philadelphia, Ohio, November 24
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 29-30
  • Apollo Theater, Oberlin, Ohio, December 4
  • Roseville Pottery 50th Anniversary Party, Hotel Rogge, Zanesville, OH, December 7
  • Liberty Theater, Zanesville, OH, December 11
  • All College Christmas Formal, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, December 14
  • Meyers Lake, Canton Ohio, December 29

For the sake of brevity I will detail the dates on the tour that include only those advertisements or articles that are significant or include Linda Keene.

  • Roton Amusement Park, Stamford, Connecticut, June 30

Roton Park in Connecticut Red Norvo and Linda Keene in Stamfordwas the first reference that I found for Linda Keene appearing with Red Norvo.  As far as I can tell, this was a single night appearance.  I am not sure if this was the official kick-off to the six month tour but I have found no other documented appearances earlier in June.  Linda had last played Roton Park in August of 1939 with Willie Farmer.

  • Potomac Cruise, Washington DC, July 3-9

 Red Norvo on the Potomac AdLinda Keene is not mentioned in any of the ads or the article that ran in the Evening Star, Washington, D.C.,  on July 4th, 1940 but I thought it was interesting to mention this week long engagement.Norvo on the Potomac Article  Imagine, Norvo and the band, along with Linda Keene, cruising up and down the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. every night supplying music for dancers under the stars.  I hope it didn’t rain.

 

 

  • Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, –Unconfirmed date ending July 12

Variety says Norvo was at Steel PierThis is an unconfirmed engagement.  Variety made a note in their July 17th issue that Raymond Scott’s orchestra was alternating with Alex Bartha’s orchestra at the Steel Pier and that Red Norvo had ended his engagement there on Friday July 12th.  TAd for the Steel Pier July 7, 1940he advertisement to the left is the one that ran for the Steel Pier from July 7th to 12th, 1940 and it notes the two alternating bands being Will Bradley’s Orchestra and Alex Bartha’s orchestra.  There is no mention of Red Norvo.  I have checked the advertisement for the Steel Pier Ad for July 14, 1940following week and indeed the alternating bands were Raymond Scott’s orchestra and Alex Bartha’s.  Norvo’s name was big enough around this time that if he played at the Steel Pier then he should have appeared in advertisements.  There remains a gap in the itinerary between the end of the Potomac cruises in Washington on July 9th and the beginning of the next engagement on July 19th.  The Steel Pier performances would have filled that gap but I have found no evidence that Red Norvo and his band were at the Steel Pier or any other venue in Atlantic City during that week.  Too bad, it would have been significant for Linda Keene because it would have confirmed this as her second engagement in Atlantic City with the first being with Glenn Miller three years earlier at Hamid’s Million Dollar Steel Pier in August of 1937.

  • Moonlite Gardens Dance Pavilion of Coney Island, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 19 – 25, 1940

Red Norvo and Linda Keene at Coney Island in hio   On July 21, 1940 the Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) ran an article where it mentioned that Norvo and his band opened at the Moonlite Gardens Dance Pavilion of Coney Island in Cincinnati on July 19th and his new singer Linda Keene was introduced. We know that this was not the first appearance of Keene with Norvo’s band but maybe he made it official during this engagement.  Ad for Coney Island July19, 1940 None of the advertisements that ran that week included the name of Linda Keene but there was an advance article Advance article about Norvo and Keene at Coney Islandthat ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer on July 18th and included Linda in the details.

   The reviews for Norvo at Coney Island were good and Linda’s name was mentioned in both articles that appeared on July 22nd and 23rd in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

 

 

  • Crystal Beach Park, Vermilion, Ohio, July 28, 1940

   The first  announcement that Norvo was coming to the Announcement for Norvo at Crystal BeachCrystal Beach Park in Vermilion appeared in the Sandusky Register (Sandusky, Ohio) on July 20th while the band was still appearing at Coney Island in Cincinnati.  Linda gets a nod as a “charming ballad singer.”  The last time Linda Keene played Crystal Beach, Vermillion, was five years earlier in 1935 when she appeared for one-nighters in June and September under her married name Florence Suttle. Oddly, her appearances in 1935 both times at Crystal Beach were with the George Duffy Orchestra who would follow Linda and Norvo in August at the same venue.

Norvo and Keene Crystal Beach, Vermillion, July 28, 1940

   There was a great review of Norvo’s Vermilion concert that ran in syndicated papers on July 31st of 1940 even though it failed to mention Linda Keene:

Review of the Vermilion concert

  • Terrace Grill, Hotel Muehlebach, Kansas City, Missouri, August 2-22, 1940

   Norvo’s appearance in Kansas city started with a small announcement in the The Kansas City Star on July 28th;Norvo announced for Kansas City the same day he and Linda were playing Crystal Beach in Vermilion, Ohio.  Almost 800 miles west of Vermilion, Ohio, Red Norvo, Linda Keene and the band settled in for a three week stay beginning August 2, 1940.  Triweeker for Norvo in Kansas CityEven Billboard ran a small notice about the “tri-weeker”. Norvo and Keene in Kansas City Linda Keene’s name had been in the small announcement on the 28th and the advertisements that appeared during the three week run.  I believe, at this point, this was the furthest west that Linda Keene had appeared either under her new name or her married name of Florence Suttle.  

   Other smaller notices also appeared in the Kansas City Star and Linda Keene’s name was still being mentioned.  Most of the praise was for Norvo and the band but Norvo and Keene in KCthe appearance of Linda’s name even in small articles meant she was being noticed.  Near the beginning of the run, on August 4th, the Kansas City Star put Linda Keene front and center by including her picture: 

Linda Keene is front and centre

Variety would offer up a good review of Norvo in Kansas City in the August 7, 1940 edition: 

Variety review of Norvo in Kansas City

   In addition to the appearances at the Terrace Grill, there were several radio remotes of Norvo from the Hotel Muehlebach.  I do not know if any of these remotes survived as radio transcriptions.  These would be the only way for us to hear how Linda Keene performed with the newly structured Norvo band.

  • Robinson Memorial Auditorium, Little Rock, Arkansas, August 23

   This performance was for a dance for the Delta Phi Omega Fraternity.  None of the ads or articles mentioned Linda Keene.

 

  • Shreveport Country Club, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 24, 1940

   About 550 miles due south of Kansas City, Missouri lies Shreveport, Louisiana.  On August 24, 1940 Red Norvo and his band along with Linda Keene performed at a dance for the Emanon Club at the Shreveport Country Club. 

Norvo and Keene in Shreveport

This was a private affair so there were no advertisements or reviews.

  • Piatt County Fair, Cerro Gordo, Illinois, September 2, 1940 (Cancelled?)

Norvo at Piatt County FairOn August 8th the Farmer City Journal, Farmer City, Illinois, announced Red Norvo as part of the lineup for the Piatt County Fair in September. Norvo and his band were to play on the Tuesday night, September 3rd, Ben Pollack at the Fairthe night after Raymond Scott and his Quintet played there. Two weeks later on August 22nd, the Gibson City Courier, Gibson City, Illinois, announced that Ben Pollack and his group would instead appear on September 3rd. For the record, Red Norvo and Linda Keene were playing at the Plantation in Dallas, Texas on September 3rd.

  • The Plantation, Dallas Texas, August 25-September 7

   I’ll be honest, I almost missed this one.  Even though the articles by Opal Nations and Prof. Raja mention that Down Beat interviewed and photographed Norvo and Keene, I was thinking October when the issue of Down Beat with their coverage would hit the newsstands.  Probably because The Plantation was not mentioned, it did not occur to me that the Dallas engagement was in late August/early September and furthermore that it ran for two weeks.
Norvo going to DallasWhile researching the performance for the 
Emanon Club at the Shreveport Country Club, I first found the reference to the Plantation in the August 20th, Shreveport Journal.   A couple days before the Shreveport Journal article, another article ran in the Dallas Morning News on August 18th.  The same picture used to promote Linda Keene in Kansas City was paired with one of Red Norvo:

Norvo and Keene in Dallas

   The advertisement that would run in the Dallas Morning News Ugly ad for Norvo openingannouncing the opening on the evening of August 25th wasn’t as flattering.  It was in fact one of the plainest advertisements for any of their stops on the six month tour and it did not mention Linda Keene.  Even the review below, appearing a couple days later on August 27th in the Dallas Morning News, was a mixed bag:  

Review of the Plantation

At least the article referenced Linda Keene’s short time with Glenn Miller even though it noted she was “somewhat lacking on the showmanship or personality side.  Perhaps things were better for her as things went on over the two weeks.   The Dallas Morning Star at least gave her praise and published a picture of her with Norvo in their August 28th edition:

Linda Keene at the Plantation

   As I said earlier, the Down Beat review of Linda Keene and Red Norvo in Dallas appeared in the October 15th edition of that magazine with both of them sharing the cover: Down Beat Cover Like all other Down Beat magazines that may have mentioned or featured Linda Keene, I could not find access to this issue.

 

  • Eta Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Pi, Lake Worth Casino, Fort Worth, Texas, September 9

Red Norvo in Fort Worth   The article to the right from the September 6th Fort Worth Star points out that even college dances were part of Norvo’s itinerary in September of 1940.

 

  • Turnpike Casino, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 14

The Turnpike Casino appearance was also one of Norvo’s performances Norvo at the Turnpikethat received favorable reviews.  Billboard actually posted two articles in their September 28, 1940 issue.  Norvo grosses $750 at TurnpikeThe first was to note that Norvo grossed $750 for his appearance that night.   Apparently he was competing against four other dances in Lincoln that night; one of which waNorvo grosses $750 at Turnpikes free.  The second article in the Billboard issue was a review which also had kind words for Linda Keene.

 

 

 

  • Terp Ballroom, Austin, Minnesota, September 25

    There is a gap in the itinerary between the the Turnpike Casino on September 14, 1940 and the Norvo at the Terp BallroomTerp Ballroom in Austin, Minnesota on September 25th.  I have found nothing that fills that gap but it is possible that Norvo was playing one-nighters in small towns or college dances and these events were not covered by some of the local newspapers.  I thought the Turnpike Casino engagement might have been an extended stay performance rather than one night but I could find no evidence of that.  I did find that Herbie Kay and his Orchestra opened there on September 20th.  There were no reviews for the Terp Ballroom performance.

  • Surf Ballroom, Mason City, Iowa, September 26

    Two notices for the Norvo at the SurfSurf Ballroom, both with mentions of Linda Keene, but no reviews.

Norvo at the Surf

  • Palais Ballroom, South Bend, Indiana, September 28

    Norvo at the PalaisThere was no Norvo at the Palaismention of Linda Keene at the Palais.

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Rink Ballroom, Waukegan, Illinois, September 29

    Red Norvo at the Rink Ballroom Red Norvo at the Rink BallroomTwo advertisements with Linda Keene’s name included.  No reviews.

 

  • New Moon Theatre, Vincennes, Indiana, October 6

   Norvo in VincennesHere’s another one I almost missed.  The small article to the right appeared in the Evansville Press (Evansville, Indiana) on October 4th, Red Norvo and Linda Keene in Vincennes1940.  The focus was mostly on the Ossenberg Brothers who also appeared at the New Moon Theatre so I almost didn’t notice that Red Norvo was mentioned.  At least the advertisement from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial on October 6th mentioned both Norvo and Linda Keene.

  • Tune Town Ballroom, St. Louis, Missouri, October 15 – 20

    Red Norvo on the radio in St. LouisThe concerts in St. Louis follow another gap from October 6th in Vincennes, Indiana to the Tune Town Ballroom on October 15th.  The six day run at the Tune Town also included broadcasts over the KXOK radio station.  I have not found any radio transcriptions of these performances.Norvo at the Tune Town Ballroom

 

  • Crystal Palace, Paw Paw Lake, Coloma, Michigan, October 26

    Another small gap from October 20th to October 26th, 1940.

Red Norvo at Crystal Lake

Red Norvo at Paw Paw Lake

 

  • Wisconsin Roof Ballroom, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 27

   Skipping over to Wisconsin, Red Norvo and Linda Keene are on the roof…the  Wisconsin Roof Ballroom in Milwaukee.Red Norvo on the Roof Ad 2

 

  • Turkey’s Nest Club, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, October 30

   Norvo opens the Turkey's nestIn Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Red Norvo opened the Turkey’s Nest Club on October 30th, 1940 and Linda Keene received a mention in an article and an advertisement from the Monessen Daily Independent, Monessen, Pennsylvania.Norvo opens the Turkey's nest

 

  • Valley Dale, Columbus Ohio, November 2Red Norvo plays for football game

   Another College dance appearance for Norvo and the band.  This time it’s for the Red Norvo plays for football gameOhio vs. Indiana Football party but there’s no mention of Linda Keene.

 

 

  • The Cathedral, New Castle, Pennsylvania, November 5-6

Linda Keene at The CathedralNow in Pennsylvania, Linda gets her picture back in the paper for the two day, three shows an evening,  run at The Cathedral in New Castle.

 

  • The Graystone Ballroom, Detroit, Michigan, November 6-12

    Norvo played the Graystone in Detroit for a Norvo at the Graystoneweek starting November 7th. Big city. Small ad. No mention of Linda Keene.

 

  • Trianon Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio, November 11 (Cancelled?)

   This is an oddity.  The Plain Dealer from Cleveland, Ohio Red Norvo for ClevelandNovember 10th, 1940 ran the article to the left in which Norvo is mentioned for an appearance at the Trianon Ballroom the next night, the 11th.  I checked the Plain Dealer on the 11th and there was no advertisement for Norvo at the Trianon but there was mention of a dance at the Trianon sponsored by the American Legion County Council as part of Armistice Celebrations.  In fact, Norvo and the band were scheduled for the week at the Graystone in Detroit.

 

  • The Grotto Ballroom, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 13

On October 25th, the Pittsburgh Press announced that Red Norvo would be in PittsburghLinda Keene in Pittsburgh at The Grotto Ballroom on November 13th for a special benefit sponsored by the Yugoslav Dapper Dan Club.  Linda Keene’s picture was used as part of the announcement.  Announcing Norvo in Pittsburgh on November 13Another announcement would appear in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on November 4th and Linda’s name would also be mentioned.  The articles gave a significant build up to the event but the actual advertisement that appeared in Pittsburgh papers was rather small.Ad for the Grotto

 

  • Kenyon Dance, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, November 15

    Not all of Norvo’s appearances on college campuses received small coverage.  His appearance at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on November 15th received a nice build up in the Gambier Kenyon Collegian:  Norvo gets the build up for Kenyon College

Norvo gets the build up for Kenyon College

 

  • Castle Farm, Cincinnati, OH, November 16

Norvo at Castle FarmThe first announcement for Red Norvo’s Band at Castle Farm was the last line in an article, from the Cincinnati Enquirer on October 30th,  about other acts appearing ‘down on the farm’.  Norvo at Castle FarmNorvo had looped back to Cincinnati on his tour almost four months since he had opened at the Moonlite Gardens Dance Pavilion of Coney Island on July 19th.  Although Linda Keene was mentioned in articles related to the Moonlite Gardens appearances, there would be no reference to her in November.

 

  • Trianon Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio, November 21

    Norvo didn’t get to Cleveland earlier in his tour but made up for it Norvo double billby being part of a jitterbug’s double bill dream.  Norvo would appear November 21st at the Trianon Ballroom with Charlie Barnet’s orchestra.  With two giant bands like that, it’s no wonder that Linda Keene’s name wasn’t mentioned.  Both advertisement and article came from the Plain Dealer, in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

  • Annual Homecoming Dance, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, November 22

   Still in Ohio, Norvo played another University dance in Columbus, Ohio.  Norvo at the homecoming danceThis time it was the Annual Homecoming Dance at Ohio State University.  The article above from the Columbus Dispatch focused more on the chaperones for the dance than the entertainment that would be present.  At least the “Sundial”, the student newspaper of Ohio State University ran an advertisement that ran over two pages:

Sundial advertisement for Norvo

 

  • Union Theatre, New Philadelphia, Ohio, November 24

Red Norvo at the Union Theatre   Red Norvo and the Band with Linda Keene next played the Union Theatre in New Philadelphia, Ohio on November 24th for four shows.  The feature film also playing was “Girls Under 21” with Bruce Cabot and Rochelle Hudson.  What do they expect from life, these Girls Under 21?

 

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 29-30

    Skipping over to Michigan, Norvo played for another University. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Norvo and band played November 29th and 30th.  The following articles come from The Daily Michigan, the student newspaper of the University of Michigan:

Norvo at University of Michigan

 

This time there would be no review of the concert by The Daily Michigan but rather Red Norvo gave a review of the dancers who attended and the contract disputes with ASCAP and BMI:

Norvo reviews the dancers

 

  • Apollo Theater, Oberlin, Ohio, December 4

    This would be the first of two appearances that Ad for the Apollo in OberlinNorvo would make in Oberlin Ohio in December of 1940.  The second would be for the All College Formal at Oberlin College on December 14th.  Oberlin not happy with NorvoThe Oberlin College social committee was not happy about the appearance at the Apollo because they thought it would cut down on revenues for his appearance at the College on the 14th.  Despite the objection, the Oberlin Review, the student newspaper of Oberlin College, in which the ad and article above appeared, did offer up a fairly decent review of the Apollo concert.

Review of the Apollo

 

  • Roseville Pottery 50th Anniversary Party, Hotel Rogge, Zanesville, OH, December 7

More than three months after Red Norvo and his Band played for the Emanon Club on August 24th, 1940 in Shreveport, he performed another private party.  Red Norvo in ZanesvilleThe Roseville Pottery Company was celebrating their 50th anniversary in 1940 so they booked in Red Norvo for the affair.  Linda Keene is mentioned as “nationally known songstress.”

 

  • Liberty Theater, Zanesville, Ohio, December 11

  Red Norvo at the Liberty in ZanesvilleFor those who could not attend the Roseville Pottery Company 50th anniversary party where Norvo appeared on December 7th in Zanesville, they didn’t have to wait long for another chance to see him in concert.  Only Advertisement for Red Norvo at the Libertya few days later, on December 11th, Red Norvo and his band appeared at the Liberty Theater.  This time Linda Keene is billed as “one of the finest girl vocalists with any orchestra.”

Red Norvo coming to the Liberty

 

  • All College Christmas Formal, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, December 14

This was Red Norvo’s second appearance in Oberlin, Ohio, after playing the Apollo Theater on December 4th.  Interview with Norvo in OberlinThe Oberlin College social committee were worried that the earlier appearance at the Apollo would impact attendance at the All College Christmas Formal.  An interview with Red Norvo appeared in the Oberlin Review on December 10th and it highlighted the hectic schedule Norvo and the band had been keeping.1940-12-10 Oberlin Review, Oberli  Norvo is quoted as saying “we really were stepping lively a couple of days last week.”  His reference to Cleveland doesn’t make sense if it was the day before Kenyon College.  They played Kenyon College on November 15th but there is no record of Norvo in Cleveland on November 14th.  I have checked the Cleveland Plain Dealer for November 13th and 14th but there were no articles or advertisements for Norvo playing in Cleveland.  We do know that Red Norvo was at The Grotto on November 13th in Pittsburgh.  It’s possible he played a College or University dance in Cleveland or another private party on November 14th but I could find no record of that either. 

  As for a review of the dance, the Oberlin Review had this to offer:The Oberlin Review review

 

 

 

 

  • Meyers Lake, Canton Ohio, December 29

A small article appeared in the Canton Repository, Canton, Ohio, on December 29th, 1940.Norvo at Meyer's Lake  It mentioned a live broadcast from Meyers Lake and that Red Norvo would be the band for the initial broadcast.  Red Norvo at Myers LakeThis was the last reference that I could find for Red Norvo in 1940 and a full two weeks afer the All College Christmas Formal at Oberlin College.  I could find nothing else for the two week gap.  I checked the listings for Meyers Lake and Red Norvo only appeared December 29th.  There was no mention of Linda Keene. 

   The appearance at Meyers Lake marked the last engagement, I believe, of the six month tour started in June.  Red Norvo in Boston January 1941I checked into early 1941 and found that Norvo, by the end of the first week of January, was playing the Hotel Brunswick in Boston without any mention of Linda Keene.  It is highly unlikely that Linda Keene was still appearing with Norvo when he was in Boston.  With the end of 1940 it is more likely that the tour with Linda ended.  According to Professor Raja “when the band returned to the Big Apple to record, Red’s wife Mildred Bailey was waiting, thus denying Linda of an earned recording session.” 

   What happened to Mildred BaileyAn interesting article appeared along the wire service in September of 1940 around the time that  Linda Keene and Red Norvo were appearing at the Turnpike Casino in Lincoln Nebraska.  The article concerned Mildred Bailey, Red Norvo’s wife, and why she wasn’t touring with Norvo.  His answer was simple that Mildred Bailey could make more on her own, sometimes up to $3,000 a week, and that was more than he could pay a girl singer.  It was clear that Mildred Bailey was still in Red Norvo’s life and by the end of the tour, Linda Keene was on to her next adventure.  She wasn’t, however, completely finished with Red Norvo.

1941

TONY PASTOR

   It isn’t clear where Linda Keene was in January of 1941.  The previous year had been a busy one continuing with Lennie Hayton’s Orchestra and recording two songs in February of 1940.  More  dates followed with Hayton in February and early March but by June she had hooked up with Red Norvo for the six month tour.  Oh, and there were those rumors that Linda Keene had left Hayton’s Orchestra in January of 1940 for Tony Pastor and his Orchestra.  Finally, in 1941 those rumors came true.

   I could not find an exact start date for Linda Keene with Tony Pastor’s Orchestra.  She certainly was appearing with him in February of 1941 and was in the studio with his Orchestra the same month.  It would take newspapers and magazines a few months to catch up with the change.  Linda Keene is with Tony PastorIt wasn’t until March 2nd that the Pittsburgh Press reported that Linda Keene was now with Pastor.   Linda Keene with Pastor in Movie-Radio GuideIt would take until the April 19th issue of Movie-Radio Guide before they made note of the change.  In their “Vocalistings” article, they made note of Tony Pastor acquiring Linda Keene and made reference to her history with Red Norvo and Jack Teagarden. 

   Despite not knowing the official start date for Linda Keene with Tony Pastor, it certainly became official with their one and only recording together.  On February 18, 1941, almost a year after her last studio session, Linda Keene recorded “Number Ten Lullaby Lane” with Tony Pastor and his Orchestra.  It would be her only recording with Tony Pastor.  Dorsey Anderson and Tony Pastor were also heard on the recording.

NUMBER TEN LULLABY LANE –LINDA KEENE with TONY PASTOR AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Personally, I like the song and Linda’s singing on it.  It’s more of a gimmick song and not a solo Linda Keene effort, which is too bad because her vocal is very charming.  Dinah Shore would also record it as a solo effort as did Eddie Duchin’s Orchestra, Martha Tilton, and Harry James’ Orchestra.    Here’s an interesting article about the composer of “Number Ten Lullaby Lane”: 

Lullaby Lane WriterAccording to the article, Bob Carlton who composed the song also wrote “Jada” which would also factor into Linda Keene’s career later on.  With all of the different versions of “Number Ten Lullaby Lane” out there, it was difficult to find any reviews specifically mentioning the version by Tony Pastor.  I found one that mentioned Linda Keene from the Syracuse Herald American, Syracuse, New York, on May 25th, 1941

Number ten lullaby lane reviewAnother review of number 10 lullaby laneIt’s sad that neither of the reviews mentioned Linda’s splendid singing. The article to the right from the Houston Chronicle on March 16th at least gave credit to the vocalists.

 

 

   After the recording session on February 18th,
Tony Pastor at the RitzI was able to begin tracking Linda Keene again in her appearances with Tony Pastor.  On February 24th, 1941 they played one night at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh, New York.  Tony Pastor at Paramount for 3 weeksA couple days after that, on February 26th, according to the January 1941 edition of Variety, Pastor and his Orchestra started a three week engagement at the Paramount Theatre in New York City.  What I find most odd is that a few articles mention a seven month stay for Pastor at Hotel Lincoln in New York.  I have found some ads for Tony Pastor and his Orchestra at the Hotel Lincoln in the fall of 1940 and some continuing into the spring of 1941.  Here is the advertisement that ran in The Daily Princetonian, Princeton, New Jersey on February 28th, 1941: 

Tony Pastor at Hotel Lincoln

There is no mention of Linda Keene although she appeared with Pastor on February 24th at the Ritz Newburgh.  Also strange, is that this advertisement bills Pastor at the Hotel Lincoln on February 28th but he was supposed to be on a three week engagement at the Paramount Theatre in New York as of February 26th.  Here is the advertisement that ran in the New York Daily News on February 26th: 

New York Paramount Ad

There is no mention of Linda Keene in the ad Ella Logan is vocalist with Tony Pastoror the small notice that also ran mentioning that Ella Logan was the vocalist. 

   It is possible that Linda Keene was part of group that was with Tony Pastor and she wasn’t mentioned in the ads.  The show at the Paramount was reviewed in the March 8th, 1941 Billboard but again, there was no mention of Linda Keene.  My apologies for the poor scan which comes from the source.  This is essentially the review of Tony Pastor’s Orchestra:

  The Preston Sturges pic, “The Lady Eve” (Paramount), plus a fairly stage bill with Tony Pastor’s ork, Ella Longa, Ben Blue, and Toy and Wing, should give the house plenty of magnetism for weeks.
  The Pastor aggregation makes lots of noise and knocks off some passable arrangements, but didn’t draw too many hands. Band features the drum beating of Johnny Morris and vocalizing of Johnny McAfee, both lads being very capable at each. Pastor himself sings and tootles his tenor sax.
  Toy and Wing open up with a neat and effortless soft-shoe number, then heat it up with a little jitterbugging. Got a nice hand and closed with Miss Toy’s fast toe number and some good novelty acro turns by both.
  Ella Logan struck home with her original song work and had to beg off after four numbers. Gal’s mugging and strong voice stamp her song selling with a distinction which is refreshing. She stays away from pops, doing arrangements like “On the Sunny Side of the Street and The Curse of an Aching Heart.”

The rest of the article is about Ben Blue and his comedy antics.  It appears that the run at the Paramount, which was to have lasted three weeks, had been extended to five weeks.  

Tony Pastor at the Sunset

   The article to the left ran in the Altoona Mirror, Altoona, Pennsylvania, on April 5th, 1941 and pretty much explains everything. It talks about Pastor’s appearance at the Sunset Park, Carrolltown, Pennsylvania on Easter Monday which would have been April 14th, 1941.  The article also mentions the extension of the Paramount engagement by two additional weeks.  This too, is strange, because five weeks from the opening on February 26th would make closing around April 2nd.  That last advertisement for Tony Pastor and his Orchestra at the Paramount was March 17th because Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra moved in the next day with a premiere for the film “Las Vegas Nights” (which was the first on screen appearance of Frank Sinatra) followed by Charlie Barnet’s Orchestra with Dinah Shore.

   The Sunset article also addressed the issue of the appearances at the Hotel Lincoln where Pastor was broadcasting from several times a week.  He might have been pulling double duty at the Paramount and at the Hotel Lincoln.  Linda Keene is mentioned in the article for the Sunset appearance so it is natural to assume that she was with Pastor at the Paramount and perhaps at the Hotel Lincoln.  Tony Pastor going on tourAccording to the New York Daily News on April 8, 1941, Tony Pastor’s orchestra was leaving the Hotel Lincoln to tour theatres in the Brandt Theatre chain starting April 17th.  This would only be a few days after the Sunset Park appearance. 

   Billboard Magazine, during the month of April 1941 would publish Tony Pastor’s route itinerary in each issue.  Here is what most of April looked like:

  • Manhattan Center, New York City, April 12
  • Arena, New Haven, Connecticut, April 13
  • Sunset Park, Carrolltown, Pennsylvania, April 14
  • Warner Theater, Morgantown, West Virginia, April 15
  • West Side Park, Berwick, Pennsylvania April 16
  • Flatbush, Brooklyn, April 17-22
  • Windsor, Bronx April 24-30

I have checked all of these dates throughout numerous newspapers and found that some of the dates were incorrect.  For example, Louis Armstrong was playing at the Manhattan Center on April 12th and I found an ad that places Tony Pastor at the New Bradford Theatre in Bradford, Pennsylvania on April 28th when he was to be at the Windsor in the Bronx at that time.  With the exception of  the Sunset Park appearance, the only other article I could find that mentioned Linda Keene with Pastor in April was for the April 13th appearance at the Arena in New Haven, Connecticut.  The following article and advertisement both appeared in The Journal (Meriden, Connecticut) on April 8th, 1941:  Pastor and Keene in New Haven on April 13, 1941

Advertise for Pastor and Keene in New Haven on April 13, 1941

   When I checked other publications for the month of April I also found interesting information from two articles in the April 23, 1941 issue of Variety. Linda Keene with Charlie Barnet The first reported that Linda Keene had taken the vocalist spot with Charlie Barnet.  Linda Keene with Red NicholsThe other article reported that Linda Keene had been replaced as the vocalist with the Red Nichols band who were playing at the Raymor Ballroom in Boston.  The Raymor was the same venue that Linda had played with Lennie Hayton in early 1940.  I could not find any advertisements of Charlie Barnet appearances that included Linda Keene nor could I find any articles or advertisements for Nichols at the Raymor that mentioned her.  I did find something in the April 1969, Record Research magazine, “The Red Nichols Memorial Issue”, that confirmed the appearance at the Raymor but suggested something different for Linda’s departure from Nichols.  April 1969 Record ResearchTheir contention was that Linda Keene left Red Nichols to join Muggsy Spanier’s Orchestra.  If Linda was with Nichols in Boston in mid-April, it’s unclear if she was back with Tony Pastor at Sunset Park in Carrolltown, PA, on April 14th despite the article announcing her appearance there with Pastor’s band.      

   A quick note about Muggsy Spanier.  Spanier's new orchestra
Spanier’s Orchestra was fairly new, having only been established in the first couple of months of 1941.  According to Variety’s February 8th, 1941 issue, this was Spanier’s “second attempt at fronting a band of his own.”  There was no mention in the article about any singer having been signed at that time for the band.

   Moving into May, 1941, Linda Keene’s trail becomes a little more obvious if not still confusing.  Mugsy Spanier and Linda Keene in AltoonaAccording to Billboard, Tony Pastor was booked to play the Runnybrook Ballroom in Pottsdown, Pennsylvania on May 3rd, 1941.  Linda Keene was also in Pennsylvania on that date but she was appearing with Muggsy Spanier’s Orchestra at the Venetian Gardens in Altoona, Pennsylvania according to the article on the right from the May 3rd, 1941 Altoona Tribune.  If appearing with Spanier’s Orchestra, instead of Pastor’s Orchestra, wasn’t odd enough, Linda Keene was mentioned as appearing with Red Norvo’s Orchestra the next night, May 4th at Eastwood Park, Detroit Michigan according to the article below from the May 4th, 1941 Detroit Free Press.

Linda Keene in Detroit with Red NorvoNorvo in Detroit

   It appeared that Linda Keene, if she had been down with laryngitis, was making up for lost time by appearing with Muggsy Spanier and Red Norvo and Tony Pastor throughout the month of May, 1941.  Tony Pastor and Linda Keene at Hershey Park BallroomOn May 10th, supposedly Linda Keene was with Tony Pastor when he opened at the Hershey Park Ballroom in Pennsylvania on May 10th.  Tony Pastor at the Hershey Park BallroomBoth of the articles on the right appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). 

   Linda Keene back with Muggsy SpanierAn article from the Altoona Tribune on May 12, 1941 mentioned that Linda Keene was back in Altoona with Muggsy Spanier’s Orchestra on May 17th at Gable’s Department Store.  The previous article from the May 3rd Altoona Tribune mentioned that Spanier’s stay at the Venenetian Gardens in Altoona was indefinite.  While researching the May 17th appearance at Gable’s Department Store, I noticed an advertisement for Muggsy Spanier still at the Venetian Gardens.  Muggsy Spanier at Venetian GardensThis same advertisement would appear in the Altoona Tribune up to and including May 30th.  By the end of May, it appeared Muggsy Spanier was finished at the Venetian Gardens. 

   Linda Keene was by no means finished with Tony Pastor’s Orchestra.  Two days after appearing with Muggsy Spanier at Gable’s Department Store in Altoona on May 17th, Linda’s name is advertised for an appearance at the Library Theatre in Cumberland Maryland.Pastor in Cumberland, MarylandThere were in fact four shows at the Library with a fourth show added at 1:50PM according to the advertisement that ran the day of Pastor’s appearance. Pastor in Marland

   There is of course no way to verify that Linda Keene was doing all of this travelling with and between bands.  Most of the advertisements and articles had no follow-up reviews but there was one exception.  The Altoona Mirror ran an article in their May 13th edition, commenting on an event at the Venetian Gardens the night before, May 12th, and Linda Keene is mentioned as being one of the entertainers.Linda Keene was in Altoona on May 12Obviously Linda Keene was in Altoona on May 12th with Muggsy Spanier.  I have found no reviews of her appearances in May with Tony Pastor or Red Norvo.  Speaking of Norvo, Linda Keene was advertised as being with Norvo again in late May.  On May 28th, 1941 Red Norvo and Linda Keene were appearing at Enna Jettick Park in Auburn, New York.   Linda Keene at Enna Jettick ParkWhen I checked other issues of the Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, New York, where the May 28th advertisement appeared,Norvo for a week at Enna Jettick Park I found that Norvo was booked to play Enna Jettick Park from May 24th to June 1st, 1941.  In fact Linda Keene’s name was still being included in advertisements that ran June 1st: 

Linda Keene still at EJ Park with Norvo June 1st

The problem with all of this, Linda Keene and Tony Pastor in Atlantaand the most confusing, is that according to the May 31st, 1941 Atlanta Constitution, Tony Pastor with Linda Keene were playing for the Georgia Military Academy Dance on the evening of May 31st in Atlanta, Georgia.  Again, I can find no reviews to substantiate Linda’s appearance in Atlanta.    

   June 1941 would also hold some very interesting events for Linda Keene.  Linda is divorcedThe most significant was that on June 10th, she was granted a divorce from her husband Spurgeon Suttle.  If you haven’t read my previous blahg “TRACING LINDA KEENE, PART 1: THE FLORENCE SUTTLE YEARS“, then I’ll explain this quickly.  Linda Keene was born Florence McCrory in December of 1911 and married Spurgeon Suttle on September 16, 1931.  They toured both separately and together as Frank Suttle and Florence Suttle from the beginning of their marriage until 1937 when Florence made a break and changed her name to Linda Linda is divorced 2Keene.  Apparently her husband could not reconcile himself with the fact that she was making more money than him.  He had a small career for a time after they separated but it didn’t amount to much.  For more on Spurgeon Suttle you’ll just have to check out my previous blahg.  Both of the articles about the divorce come from Chicago papers so we can assume that Linda Keene was in that city around June 10th, 1941. 

   The next article in June of 1941 to mention Linda Keene was published in the Akron Beacon Journal from Akron, Ohio on June 15th. Linda Keene in Akron with Mugsy Spanier

Linda is back with Muggsy Spanier’s band at the Summit Beach Park in Akron.  Linda had last appeared at the Summit Beach park in 1935 with George Duffy’s Orchestra under her married name Florence Suttle.  The divorce five days before this new appearance at Summit Beach made it her first official appearance there as the newly single Linda Keene.  Muggsy Spanier’s Muggsy Spanier at Summit Beachappearance was such a big deal that it received a coast to coast broadcast over the entire mutual network.

   I can find no mention of Linda Keene with Spanier for the rest of June.  Spanier at the RoselandI do know that Muggsy Spanier moved into the Roseland Ballroom in Claremont, New Hampshire on June 19th but Linda’s name does not appear in the advertisement.  Spanier was also at the Lake Spofford Hotel in Brattleboro, Spanier at Lake SpoffordVermont on June 25th but again there is no mention of Linda Keene.  Following that, Spanier was at Spanier at the HofbrauWagenbach’s Lawrence Hofbrau in Lowell, Massachusetts for one night on June 29th.   I’m trying to establish a pattern that Muggsy Spanier and his Orchestra were playing venues in New England states at the end of June and early July because Billboard Review of Muggsy Spanierthe next article I could find related to Linda Keene with Spanier’s Orchestra was a review of Muggsy and Linda at the Roseland State Ballroom in Boston from the July 12th edition of Billboard.  They don’t mention the date of the performance that was reviewed but it’s possibly early July because late June had him performing at other venues in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire and before that he was in Akron, Ohio in mid-June.  It’s interesting what the Billboard review had to say about Linda as well as proof that Linda was still with Spanier in early July.  They complimented her voice but felt she was out of place with Spanier and “would be better with a sweet band or in a cocktail lounge than with this jump crew.”  Interesting indeed because Linda’s next move was along the lines of their suggestion.

   I have checked listings for Muggsy Spanier, Red Norvo, Tony Pastor, as well as for Linda Keene but nothing more appears that mentions Linda Keene for the rest of June.  Tony Pastor was in Raleigh, North Carolina in the middle of June at the Carolina Cotillion Club but nothing suggests Linda Keene was there.  Red Norvo was making a swing through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Ohio but none of his advertisements included Linda Keene’s name.  Other than the July 12th, Billboard article, the next listing I could find for Linda Keene was a small notice that ran in the July 2, 1941 issue of Linda Keene at Cafe Society Variety stating she was starting a single turn at the Uptown Cafe Society in New York City. Linda Keene at Cafe SocietyThe article to the right from the New York Age, July 19th, stated that Linda was appearing as part of a program that included “boogie-woogie piano duets.” Variety also posted smaller notices in their July 9th, 16th, and 23rd issues listing the performers at the Cafe Society Midtown, Vareity July 11, 1941 which appears to also have been called the Cafe Society Uptown, and Linda Keene’s name was published in each notice.   The small notice mentioned from the July 2nd Variety stated that Linda Keene was a “vocalist last with Muggsy Spanier’s new band.”  That is odd, suggesting she was no longer with Spanier, and stranger still that Variety had her throughout the month of July in New York at the Cafe Society Midtown, and yet, on Linda Keene with Spanier in St. LouisJuly 22nd, Linda was billed as being back with Muggsy Spanier at the Tune Town Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri.  The engagement at the Tune Town Ballroom would last until July 28th.  Muggsy Spanier at Tune TownLinda Keene at Tune TownIt’s interesting to note that the article from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) on July 20th, 1941 that Linda Keene “formerly appeared with Red Norvo and Tony Pastor.”  Was it being implied that she was no longer connected with those two bands? 

   I want to jump ahead just a bit to the end of December 1941.  I had been looking for more listings for Linda Keene with either Spanier, Pastor, or Norvo and after the Tune Town listing there was nothing except one small notice in the December 6th, 1941 issue of Billboard.  Linda Keene back with Red NorvoThis would have put Linda Keene and Red Norvo back together again at the Blue Gardens in Armonk, New York from December 5th until mid-January 1942.  I am of the opinion that this last reunion of Red Norvo and Linda Keene did not happen.  At that time, Eddie Bert was playing trombone with Red Norvo and I came across an article on the Jazz Wax website, https://www.jazzwax.com/2007/12/eddie-bert-part.html, from 2007 where Eddie Bert talks about the engagement:

We went into the Blue Gardens in Armonk, N.Y., on December 6, 1941. The next day, of course, was Pearl Harbor. I thought, man, I finally get a gig and a day later there’s a war. We were at the Blue Gardens for a month and half after that. During that time, Benny Goodman came in to hear us, and we broadcast live.

I was already married by then—my wife’s name is Molly—and I taught her how to use the Wilcox-Gay recorder. Molly recorded me off the radio with Red at the Blue Gardens in January 1942. These recordings were released on CD in the early 1990s.

I was able to track down some information about the CD he references, “Red Norvo Orchestra Live From The Blue Gardens”.  Here’s the artwork from the back of the CD: 

Notice that vocals are attributed to Helen Ward, Kay Allen, Fran Snyder, and Eddie Bert.  There is no mention of Linda Keene in Eddie Bert’s interview or on the back of the CD.  I will mention more about Linda Keene’s whereabouts in December 1941/January 1942 later but I just wanted to highlight not just what might have been but also that I could find no other reference to Linda Keene with Red Norvo after the week at Enna Jettick Park in Auburn, New York in late May/early June of 1941.  It’s too bad that she wasn’t at the Blue Gardens in December 1941/January 1942 because the CD would have been a great opportunity to hear the combination of Red Norvo and Linda Keene. Here’s a track from the CD of Helen Ward singing “This Time The Dream’s On Me.”  One wonders what Linda Keene could have done with the song if she had appeared with Norvo at the Blue Gardens.

Red Norvo at the Blue Gardens

THIS TIME THE DREAM’S ON ME –HELEN WARD WITH RED NORVO FROM THE BLUE GARDENS

   Jumping back to the July 1941 timeline, the last media for Linda Keene was about the Tune Town appearance in St. Louis with Muggsy Spanier’s Orchestra from July 22nd to 28th.  Linda was also supposed to be finishing another week at the Cafe Society Uptown/Midtown in New York.  I cannot confirm that Linda finished out the month at the Cafe Society or was even at Tune Town.  Cafe Society Uptown reviewI did find one review for the Cafe Society Uptown from the July 12, 1941 issue of Billboard and although the review is short, it is telling that at the time of the review, Linda Keene was not there.  The previous listings by Variety for this show included everyone mentioned in this article, James Copp, Hazel Scott, Ammon and Johnson, and the bands of Teddy Wilson and Eddie South.  What is missing are the names of Linda Keene and the comic, Jack Gilford.  The last line that the “entire show Negro except for Copp,” is clear that neither Jack Gilford or Linda Keene were in the show when it was reviewed.  Remember, the July 12, 1941 issue of Billboard is the same edition that reviewed Muggsy Spanier up in Boston at the Roseland State Ballroom with Linda Keene.  Variety might have had it wrong about Linda’s start date at the Cafe Society Uptown or it’s possible that Linda simply didn’t join the show at all.  I was able to track Jack Gilford and he was performing at the Orpheum in Minneapolis, Minnesota starting July 11th, 1941 but Jack Gilford at Uptown Cafe Societya syndicated column of Jack Gaven “Up and Down Broadway” dated July 12 mentions that Jack Gilford was at the Cafe Society Uptown in New York.  This review might have been from the previous week but, like the Billboard review of the Cafe Society Uptown, it too fails to note Linda Keene as being there.

In George T Simon’s 1971 book, “Simon Says : The Sights and Sounds of the Swing Era, 1935-1955” he provides a daily diary of one week in August 1941 where he mentions seeing Linda Keene at the Cafe Society Uptown:

George Simon sees LK at Uptown

So, it might have been possible that Linda Keene was still at the Uptown in August of 1941.  By the beginning of August, and probably well into December of 1941, it appears that Linda Keene had no affiliation with any orchestra.  Linda Keene in HarrisburgThe next listing for Linda is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the week running August 12th to the 18th.  She was appearing at the Bolton Tropical Room for two shows nightly with two dancers and some Swiss-Bell-Ringers.  The only review of the show was from the Harrisburg Telegraph from August 13th and it just repeated what appeared in the advertisement.Review of HarrisburgBillboard had no route information for Linda during the month of August and Variety had no notices of her movements. 

   After the week in Harrisburg, Linda Keene at the Famous Doorthe next notice was for an engagement in New York at the Famous Door in September of 1941.  The big draw was Andy Kirk and his “Clouds of Joy” Orchestra.  I found nothing further to be mentioned about their appearance at the Famous Door and nothing for reviews of Linda Keene.  The advertisement to the upper right is from the The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, on September 19th.  Billboard has Linda Keen at the Famous DoorRoute information for Linda Keene (misspelled as Keen) from the September 6th, 1941 issue of Billboard has her at the Famous Door.  My research revealed that Andy Kirk had started his engagement at the Famous Door on September 5th so it’s conceivable that is the same start date for Linda Keene.  Unfortunately, although Billboard does mention Andy Kirk at the Famous Door in their Orchestra Route information for the entire month of September, Linda Keene’s route information was just the one from the September 6th issue.  As we saw, she was included in the advertisements up to the 19th so it’s possible she was there the whole month. Variety had no information of Linda Keene for the month of September.

   In October, neither Variety or Billboard had notices for Linda Keene.  Linda was working though because she was spotted in a revue in Newport, Kentucky at the Primrose Country Club. Linda Keene at the Primrose Country Club Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio so many of the advertisements for the show appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer like the one on the left from October 8th. Linda Keene still at the Primose The show began on October 6th and ran until October 19th with ads like the one on the right also appearing in the Kentucky Post as late as October 18th.  Review of the Primise Club showA review of sorts ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer on October 8th and mentioned Linda’s past affiliations with Red Norvo and Tony Pastor.  Unfortunately that time, it’s her first name that is misspelled. 

   November 1941 saw no notices in Billboard or Variety or other periodicals for Linda Keene.  It wasn’t until the December 3rd issue of Variety that a new notice for Linda Keene appears.  Linda Keene at Kelly's StableThis time she’s at Kelly’s Stable in New York.  This same notice would appear in the December 17th issue of Variety.  I could find no advertisements for Kelly’s Stable in December of 1941. 

HENRY LEVINE & STRICTLY FROM DIXIE

   Other than appearing at Kelly’s Stable, December 1941 saw one of the most significant events in Linda Keene’s career.  The same day, December 3rd, that Variety published a notice about Linda at Kelly’s Stable, the Jersey Journal, Jersey City, New Jersey ran this article: 

Linda Keene announced for Henry Levine

The following day the San Antonio Express, Linda Keene with LevineSan Antonio, Texas made the same announcement.  Linda Keene had apparently replaced Ella Fitzgerald to be the new vocalist on Henry Levine’s weekly show “Strictly From Dixie.”  Similar write-ups appeared in other newspapers in December: 

Linda Keene on Strictly From DixieLinda Keene on Strictly From Dixie

The one on the left is from The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey) and the one on the right is from The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania).  

   Henry Levine had previously been with NBC but his new radio show “STRICTLY FROM DIXIE” was the result of him switching from NBC’s “Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”, to ABC’s “Strictly From Dixie” show.  It was on this new show that he introduced his new vocalist Linda Keene. On his previous show at NBC, he introduced at different times, singers Dinah Shore and Lena Horne.  Now it was Linda’s turn and after a year full of touring and a connection, at times, to Tony Pastor, Red Nichols, Red Norvo, Muggsy Spanier, and supposedly Charlie Barnet, it must have been exciting for her to now be connected to a weekly radio show. 

   One other item of significance began appearing in the The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) December 13th, 1941.  It was the result of fan voting for favorite band and favorite male and female vocalists.  Here were the standings on December 13th:

Linda Keene's standings on December 13th

Note that Linda Keene was 16th in the female vocalist standings with 340 votes; ahead of some great singers like Mildred Bailey, Helen O’Connell, Ella Logan, and Dinah Shore.  By comparison, Frank Sinatra was only 24th in the male vocalist standings with only 290 votes.  Near the end of the voting, on December 27th, the standings looked like this:

Linda Keene's standings December 27th

Frank Sinatra had sunk to 26th with only 300 votes, a gain of only 10 votes in two weeks, and Linda Keene had dropped lower on the list to 21st but had gained 250 votes for a total of 590.  It was not a bad showing to end out 1941.

1942

   According to Variety, Linda Keene continued her Variety Line-Up for January 1942association with Kelly’s Stable in January 1942.  The line-up posted for the weeks of January 16th and 30th, 1942 were very similar to those posted for December.  A variation of the notice appeared in Variety up to the week of February 6.  So, Linda Keene was pulling double duty by performing at Kelly’s Stable and performing on the weekly radio show “Strictly From Dixie”.  I could find no advertisements for Kelly’s Stable in January or February 1942.

HENRY LEVINE contd…

   I do not know the exact date that Linda Keene joined up with Henry Levine on “Strictly From Dixie” or when she stopped appearing on the show.  All media point to a December 1941 start and she was still appearing on that program into February of 1942.  Linda Keene turns down Artie ShawAccording to a wire service article appearing February 1st, she even turned down an offer to join up with Artie Shaw so she could stay on the “Strictly From Dixie” radio show.  It’s a good thing, too, because as a result of her appearance on that program, she went back into the studio the first week of February to record six songs for a 78 rpm album that would also bear the title of “Strictly From Dixie.” 

   The album, “Strictly From Dixie”, Strictly From Dixie 78rpm setwhich culturally sports an inappropriate cover image, was the first and only album that Linda Keene would record.  Three of Linda’s tracks, “Mound Bayou”, “Embraceable You”, and “Somebody Loves Me” were recorded on February 2nd, 1942 and the remaining three of her vocals, “Georgia On My Mind”, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans” were recorded on February 4th.  The pairing of Linda Keene with Henry Levine and his band was the best fit that Linda had up to that time.  The songs are dixie and with her famous southern voice, the vocals and the music click, in my opinion, like none of her other band associations since Jack Teagarden. 

Mound Bayou 78

MOUND BAYOU –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

———————————-

EMBRACEABLE YOU 78

EMBRACEABLE YOU –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

———————————-

SOMEBODY LOVES ME 78

SOMEBODY LOVES ME –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

———————————-

GEORGIA ON MY MIND 78

GEORGIA ON MY MIND –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

———————————-

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

———————————-

WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS 78

WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS –LINDA KEENE with HENRY LEVINE AND HIS STRICTLY FROM DIXIE JAZZ BAND

The other two tracks in the album were instrumentals of “Shine” and “Strictly From Dixie” by Henry Levine and his Strictly From Dixie Jazz Band.  NBC Chamber Society of Lower Basin StreetNone of the tracks from this 78 rpm album would be released on any other format until the Harlequin label put out a CD in 1995 entitled “NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”.  If you look at the image to the right you will see that Linda Keene is included on the CD and there’s even a picture on the bottom right of her.  Linda’s only two tracks on the CD are “Somebody Loves Me” and “Georgia On My Mind”.  All six of Linda’s songs with Henry Levine would also be issued on “The Velvet Voice Of The Forgotten Linda Keene” compiled by Professor Eves Raja. 

   The reviews for the “Strictly From Dixie” album were generally very good.

review: 1942-05-03 Evening Star, Washington, Washington DC, US Evening Star, Washington DC, May 3, 1942

Review: 1942-05-03 The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia), May 3, 1942

Review: Jackson Advocate, Jackson, Mississippi, May 23, 1942Jackson Advocate, Jackson, Mississippi, May 23, 1942

1943-11-28 Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) review of Strictly From DixieArizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona), November 28, 1943

Another review suggested that RCA was so pleased with sales of the “Strictly From Dixie” album that a second volume was in the works:

Review: 1942-03-06 The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey)The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), March 6, 1942

There would not be another volume of “Strictly From Dixie” but, other than the 78 album and the radio program, there would be more of Henry Levine and Linda Keene to come…but in a different format.

   The January 31st, 1942 issue of Billboard published the following advertisement: 

Linda Keene is in the soundies

Minoco Productions was responsible for producing “Soundies”.  If you haven’t read my first blahg about Linda Keene, Down A Rabbit Hole With Linda Keene, then I’ll reprint from there, my explanation about Soundies:

“Soundies are three-minute American musical films, produced between 1940 and 1947, each containing a song, dance, and/or band or orchestral number. Produced professionally on 35mm black-and-white film, like theatrical motion pictures, they were printed in the more portable and economical 16mm gauge.

The films were shown in a coin-operated “movie jukebox” called the Panoram, manufactured by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago. Each Panoram housed a 16mm RCA film projector, with eight Soundies films threaded in an endless-loop arrangement. A system of mirrors flashed the image from the lower half of the cabinet onto a front-facing screen in the top half. Each film cost 10 cents to play, and there was no choice of song; the patron saw whatever film was next in the queue. Panorams could be found in public amusement centers, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, and factory lounges, and the films were changed weekly. The completed Soundies were generally made available within a few weeks of their filming, by the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America.”

There’s a great resource book titled “The Soundies Book” The Soundies Bookby Scott MacGillivray and Ted Okuda.  The book is a reference of all things Soundies and has compiled information on all these “Music Videos of the 1940s.”  Linda Keene and Henry Levine and his band would film three Soundies:  “Ja-Da”, “Frankie and Johnny”, and “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street.”  We are lucky that these all survive and even luckier that each is available for viewing on Youtube:

Ja-Da

Frankie and Johnny

When My Sugar Walks Down The Street

   According to ‘The Soundies Book’, “Minoco Productions was owned and operated by the Panoram manufacturer (Minoco stood for MIlls NOvelty COmpany)…The Minoco films were made at the former Thomas Edison studio, on Decatur Avenue in the Bronx section of New York City.”  ‘The Soundies Book’ also provided copyright dates for Linda Keene’s three Soundies.  “Ja-Da” was copyright March 2, 1942, “Frankie and Johnny” March 30, 1942, and “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street” on May 18, 1942.  “Ja-Da” and “Frankie and Johnny” would have been filmed at the Bronx location but “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street” would have been filmed in Chicago.  ‘The Soundies Book’ clarifies that Minoco was having some financial issues due to the war and in April 1942 Mills Novelty, “needing to downsize and adjust to the company’s new economics, closed its New York and Hollywood production units and sought local facilities in the company’s home base of Chicago, Illinois.”  Linda Keene would only film the three Soundies but before “Ja-Da”, Henry Levine and his band, without Linda, had filmed the Soundie “Bugle Call Rag” which had a copyright date of February 9th, 1942: 

 

MacGillivray and Okuda had favorable things to say about Linda’s last Soundie “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street.  “One of our favorite Soundies, with vocalist Linda Keene (who gets top billing).  The visuals are a little cheesier than usual, with under-rehearsed showgirls and a cardboard backdrop, but the music is tops.  This tune was part of Henry’s radio repertoire, so the band had this one down cold.”

TONY PASTOR contd…

   Just like she did in 1941, Linda Keene appeared to keep more than one band connection in the spring of 1942.  At the same time that she was appearing with Levine on the radio program “Strictly From Dixie” but apparently between the filming of the “Ja-Da” and “Frankie and Johnny” Soundies, she connected again with Tony Pastor and his Orchestra and went on tour.  Linda Keene at the Mishler Theatre in AltoonaOn March 17th, 1942, she was billed as appearing with Tony Pastor and His Orchestra at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, Pennsylvania, as noted in the advertisement above from the Altoona, Mirror.  The following month, Linda Keene is noted to appear again with Tony Pastor at the La Plaza Theater in St. Petersburgh, Florida. 

Tony Pastor and Linda Keene in St. Petersburgh

 

Tony Pastor and Linda Keene in Florida

This time, I was able to verify Linda’s appearance in Florida with Tony Pastor.  Like the two advertisements above that appeared in the Tampa Bay Times on April 27th, the following review appeared in the same paper on April 28th:

Review of St. Petersburgh

Linda’s notice was very brief “Pretty Linda Keene also was well liked” but it was enough to verify that Linda Keene was indeed touring again with Tony Pastor almost a year after her last appearance with his Orchestra.   Linda Keene continued her tour with Pastor in May with an appearance at the Linda Keene and Tony Pastor in GreenvilleCarolina Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina for one night only on May 6, 1942.  After that, I could find no other listings for Linda Keene appearing with Tony Pastor.  One wonders why she was back with Pastor again in 1942. 

   Linda must have left Pastor again sometime in May after the the Greenville appearance.  Her next listing is from the Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) where Linda is appearing at the Rainbow Room atop the Albion Hotel in Asbury Park on May 23rd and 24th. 

Linda Keene at the Rainbow RoomThe New Rainbow Room was on top of the Albion Hotel, billed as entirely fireproof, finished in 1942 with all modernistic furnishings. The Rainbow Room with dancing every night proved to be Jersey Shore’s most popular rendezvous.

The Hotel Albion with Rainbow Room on top

   The question about whether Linda Keene ever toured with Henry Levine was considered in an article that appeared in the Red Bank Register, Red Bank, New Jersey on June 4th. Linda Keene & Herny Levine at the U.S.O. ClubIn a column about “Goings On About the U.S.O Club” it was noted that Henry Levine would perform at the club on June 11th and Linda Keene would be the vocalist.  Keene & Levine a no show at USOUnfortunately, a review of the event in the following week’s Red Bank Register, failed to not that either Henry Levine or Linda Keene were there. 

   The reason why Linda Keene didn’t appear in Red Bank was that she was benefitting from her radio appearances.  On June 11th, when she would have been in Red Bank, she was opening again at Kelly’s Stable in New York.  Linda Keene at Kelly'sThe notice made reference to her radio work.  Her previous appearances at Kelly’s Stable failed to mention her name in New York papers other than the personnel notices in Variety.  The New York Daily News made note of her opening,Linda Keene at Kelly's Stable however, in their June 11, 1942 edition and even carried her name in a Kelly’s Stable ad on June 18th.  Variety noted Variety week of July 10th.that she was still appearing at Kelly’s Stable through the week of July 10th. 

   In July, probably after finishing up at Kelly’s Stable, Linda Keene was out on the road again.  On July 9th, the Detroit Times ran an advertisement for Club San Diego,

Linda Keene at Club San Diego

in Detroit, Michigan, in which Linda Keene’s name was prominently featured.  Linda Keene at Club San DiegoThe same edition also carried a picture of Linda Keene in a notice on the same page as the advertisement for the Club San Diego.  Linda at Club San DiegoThe program, that also featured John Kirby and his Orchestra began on July 6th and ran until the 19th.  It is likely that Linda was also there for the full two weeks.  Her picture with a notice of her appearance at the club also appeared in the Detroit Times on July 12th as well as an interesting article that appeared on July 16th about a psychiatrist who fell in love with Linda Keene:  Psychiatrist in love with Linda

   Following the Club San Diego engagement in Detroit, another significant event happened in Linda Keene’s life.  She was asked to substitute on the daily radio program, “Club Matinee” for two weeks beginning July 20th.”  Linda Keene on Club MatineeClub Matinee was an American old-time radio variety show. It was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from 1937 to 1943 and on ABC from 1945 to 1946. Linda Keene at Club San DiegoClub Matinee featured comedy and music, with the two sometimes combined in the form of comedic arrangements of musical classics, played slightly out of tune.  The format was probably Linda Keene on Club Matineefamiliar to Linda because it was very similar to that of “NBC’s Chamber Music Society Of Lower Basin Street” as well as “Strictly From Dixie.”  Linda would appear daily for two weeks.  Unfortunately, like the “Strictly From Dixie” programs on which Linda appeared, I could find find no radio transcriptions of any of her “Club Matinee” performances. 

   Linda Keene’s appearance on “Club Matinee”, Linda Keene back on Club Matineesubstituting for the vacationing Nancy Martin was so well received that she was welcomed back in August.  Linda was asked to appear for another three weeks, this time for the vacationing Marion Mann beginning August 17th.Linda Keene gets an encore The second Linda Keene on Club Matinee againappearance on “Club Matinee” with a three week run would have ended around September 4th, 1942.  All of the notices regarding her appearance on “Club Matinee” were generally favorable.

A couple of other interesting things happened for Linda Keene in 1942 that might have been the result of her radio appearances on “Strictly From Dixie” and “Club Matinee.”  Skylark Sheet MusicSome time in 1942 Linda Keene appeared on the cover of the sheet music issued for the Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael tune “Skylark”.  We know that she didn’t record this tune but it is possible she sang it on one of her radio programs.  What a missed opportunity it would have been to have had Linda Keene record an album of Hoagy Carmichael tunes.  Her voice had already proved itself on Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” and, personally, I think other Carmichael songs like “Stardust”, “Baltimore Oriole”, Memphis In June”, “Heart and Soul” or the “Nearness of You” would have been well suited for Linda’s voice.  Also in 1942, Linda Keene appeared on the sheet music for “If Anything Happened To You.”  I could not find an image for this file but this was a tune written by Jimmy Van Heusen and was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald in 1939.  Linda must have been singing it as well on the radio in 1942.  In case you’ve never heard Ella’s version of “If Anything Happened To You” give it a listen.  I’m sure you’ll agree it would have been a song well suited to Linda’s singing style.  Maybe a radio transcription will surface one day of Linda singing the song and perhaps I’ll also find a copy of the sheet music with Linda Keene on the cover.

 “If Anything Happened To You” – Ella Fitzgerald, 1939

   After her second stint on “Cafe Matinee”, Linda Keene is advertised as performing at The Plantation in Moline, Illinois.  The ad in the Moline Daily Dispatch made reference to her appearance on “Club Matinee” and that she came direct to Moline after her three weeks on that program.  Linda Keene in MolineThe engagement in Moline ran from September 11th to 24th.  Linda even found time to make an appearance at a War Bond show on September 14th.  Linda Keene at the War Bond showLinda’s name might have been front and center in the advertisement for The Plantation but the one for the War Bond show focused more on the appearance of Griff Williams.  The War Bond Show Ad in MolineWe know that Linda was at this War Bond show because the review for the program mentions her appearance. 

Review of the War Bond Show in Moline

   Linda Keene followed up her two weeks in Moline by moving over to theLinda Keene at Club 509 Club 509 in Detroit, Michigan for a week starting October 5th.  After the Club 509, Linda was in Cincinnati at The Patio for two weeks opening on October 19th and closing on November 1st.Linda Keene at the Patio

Linda was well received at The Patio over her two weeks.

  Linda Keene at the Patio

Review of Linda Keene at The Patio

Another review of Linda Keene at the Patio

    The remainder of Linda Keene’s schedule in 1942 was very quiet.  One answer might have been due to there being a War on.  This didn’t stop Linda because Billboard noted she was joining the war effort by signing up Linda joins the USOwith the USO to perform throughout the Winter season at various camps beginning the end of November.  This would see Linda into 1943.

1943

   In addition to her radio and USO work, Linda Keene continued her club work in January of 1943.  Starting January 18th, she was featured at the Tropical Room of the Hotel Bolton in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ending on January 24th.  Once again, she is billed as a Blues singer.  Linda’s work in 1943 would be mostly club work with no connection to any Orchestra.  Most of the advertisements or reviews of her work over the next few years would fail to mention what musicians might have been backing her at the various venues. 

  In February, starting with the February 13th issue, Billboard would carry route information for Linda at the Famous Door in New York.  Linda Keene at the Famous DoorThe Famous Door was a jazz club on New York’s 52nd Street.  It opened in 1935 and among the club’s initial backers were Lennie Hayton and Glenn Miller.  Linda had since performed with Orchestra’s led by these two giants.  Billboard published the same route information for Linda at the Famous Door in their February 13th, 20th, 27th, and March 6th issue.  Variety lists Linda at the Famous DoorVariety also listed Linda Keene at the Famous Door for the week of March 5th, 1943.  This would not be the last time that Linda Keene would play at the Famous Door in 1943 but I could find no advertisements for Linda’s engagement in February/March 1943.  Red Norvo at the Famous DoorCoincidentally, Red Norvo, according to the New York Daily News advertisement for the Famous Door on February 1st, preceded Linda at the Famous Door.  The timing of Norvo’s appearance probably had Linda Keene coming into the club after Norvo closed. 

   After Linda’s February/March 1943 engagement at the Famous Door, neither Variety nor Billboard carried any route information for Linda for the next few months.  There was no information either regarding when she might have left the “Strictly From Dixie” radio program.  She might have been busy with her USO work or smaller club work through March and April. Linda Keene back at the Famous Door The next listing for Linda Keene wasn’t until the May 7th edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) where they noted she was back again at the Famous Door.  Another article, more than three weeks later, in The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) on May 30th noted she was still at the Famous Door but also clarified that she no longer had any radio program affiliation.  Linda Keene on her own at Famous DoorIt was suggested in the article that she was being pursued for a possible radio program of her own over the Blue Network.  Someone was very optimistic that they could bill her to be the female Frank Sinatra and “America’s Greatest Blues Singer.”  I can find no other references to this possible radio program deal nor could I find the length of her stay this second time at the Famous Door.  Between the two articles it is suggested a run from at least May 7th through May 30th and possibly into June of 1943. 

Linda Keene at The Glass Hat   In the month of July 1943, Linda Keene had moved over to the Glass Hat in the Hotel Belmont in New York.  The program was being billed as a Summer Revue and ads like the one on the left began appearing on July 7th and ran throughout the month.  Linda at the Glass HatBillboard listed Linda Keene at the Belmont Plaza, the location of the Glass Hat,  in their artist route section of their July 24th edition.Billboard lists Linda at Glass Hat This route information would also be repeated in Billboard’s July 31st, August 7th, and August 14th editions.   Linda also received notices out in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the Harrisburg Telegraph on July 28th:  Linda Keene at the Glass Hat was the thing to seeApparently, catching Linda Keene’s performance at the Glass Hat was the thing to do when you went into New York. Linda Keene still at Glass Hat Linda was still getting notices in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for her Glass Hat appearance as late as July 30th, 1943. 

   There was no further media coverage, that I could locate, for Linda Keene after the Billboard route information for her at the Glass Hat in the August 14th edition.  In fact neither Variety or Billboard would carry route or notice information for her until well into November of 1943.  The next newspaper coverage wouldn’t appear until October 6th in the Boston Herald noting that Linda Keene was now part of the program at the Roof and Star Bar of the Hotel Bradford. 

Linda Keene in BostonThe notice did not specify that the new program was beginning on the 6th and it wasn’t until a notice in the Boston Globe on October 8th Linda Keene at Hotel Bradfordthat we learn the opening was the night before on October 7th. It was a good notice that “more than 300 were turned away from the opening”, even if they did misspell Linda’s first name as “Linday”.  Linda Keene still in BostonNotice, too, that the venue is now listed as the Roof and Sky Garden.  Notices were still being published as of October 15th, suggesting a possible two week run.  The October 22nd, Boston Globe noted a new program began on October 21st with Rose Marie.

   In November of 1943, Linda Keene was back in Newport, Kentucky at the Glenn Rendezvous.  Linda had last been in Newport in October of 1941 when she played the Primrose Country Club.Linda Keene at Glenn Rendezvous in Newport, KY  On October 10th, the Cincinnati Enquirer carried an article about Linda being the headliner for the show opening on Friday, October 12th.  She was also prominently featured in the advertisement that appeared on October 11th, in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the day before the opening.

Linda Keene at the Glenn RendezvousLinda was now “The Mistress of Blues”.  A subsequent advertisement on October 13th in the Cincinnati Enquirer had her name prominently featured but not her image: 

Lidna Keene In Name OnlyNote the billing as “Year’s Singing Star” and “that gal from N’ Or’luns.”  Review of the Glenn RendezvousThe same day the second advertisement appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, October 13th, they also published a small write-up about the show. Here, we learn that Linda has added the song “Jenny” from the Broadway musical “Lady In The Dark” to her repertoire.  The song was written in 1941 and was made popular by Gertrude Lawrence.  A nice write up about Linda Keene at the Glenn RendezvousLinda Keene also received a nice notice on October 14th in the Cincinnati Enquirer.  This would not be the last notice about Linda Keene at the Glenn Rendezvous because the Cincinnati Enquirer noted her singing on another song in their November 21st edition.  This time their review was for Linda Keene sings Unlucky Womanher singing the song “Born On A Friday” which is actually correctly titled “Unlucky Woman” which Linda Keene would eventually record…but more about that later.  The final advertisement that mentioned Linda Keene was the one that appeared for her last night at the Glenn Rendezvous on November 25th.

Linda Keene's last ad at the Rendezvous

      In late November 1943, Linda Keene was back in Cleveland, Ohio.  The last time she had played in Cleveland was two years earlier on November 21, 1940 at the Trianon Ballroom with Red Norvo.  This time she was performing in the Vogue Room of the Hotel Hollenden for two weeks from November 29th to December 12th.  Below is the advertisement that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on November 28th: 

Linda Keene in the Vogue Room

A similar advertisement would appear on December 5th but in the bottom left corner, Roy Davis has been replaced by the Silver Cyclones, a roller-skating act. 

2nd Linda Keen ad for the Vogue Room

In both advertisements, Linda Keene is compared to the 1800s Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind by parodying her name as “Jenny Linda.”  Review of Linda Keene in the Vogue RoomThe advertisements for the show might have been kind but the review that also ran in the December 5th issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was not.  This must have been devastating for Linda.  The only good takeaway we have from this review is that it notes two of the songs she was singing, “Basin Street Blues” and “You Let Me Down”.  The latter song, “You Let Me Down” was written in 1935 by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and was popularized by Billie Holiday’s recording in 1936.  Give a listen to that version: 

“You Let Me Down” – Billie Holiday

It is probably likely that Linda Keene’s version was inspired by Billie Holiday’s version.  I just want to make note of another beautiful version of that song recorded in 1960 by Sylvia Syms for her excellent album, “Torch Song.”  If you have never heard it, by all means, treat yourself: 

“You Let Me Down” – Sylvia Syms

I could find no other references to Linda Keene for the rest of December of 1943.  Hopefully audiences received her better at the Vogue Room than the reviewer.  Still, the review was not a great way to end out 1943. 

1944

   An interesting notice appeared in the January 1st, 1944 edition of Billboard.  It was an announcement that Paula Victor and Linda Keene had been set for the new Lee Mortimer show scheduled for that month.  Linda Keene set for Lee Mortimer showOn further research I discovered that the Lee Mortimer show was a program called “Around The Town” at the Folies Bergere in New York.  Billboard reviewed the show in their January 8th edition: 

Review of Lee Mortimer show

There is no notice of Linda Keene in the review and it appears singing by a female vocalist was left up to Bea Saxon.  Any other articles that I found regarding the show failed to mention Linda Keene or Paula Victor but did note the singing by Bea Saxon.  It would have been an interesting start to 1944 for Linda Keene but I doubt it happened. 

   After an absence in postings for the first two months of 1944, Linda Keene’s name was mentioned in the Linda Keene going into the Little ClubFebruary 26th Billboard issue noting she was now in Hollywood going into the Little Club.  This puts Linda Keene solidly on the West Coast after working out of New York and the Ohio region.  Despite intense research, I could not locate anything regarding Linda’s engagement at the Little Club. 

Linda Keene on Bob Crosby show   It isn’t until late March that we learn what Linda Keene has been doing on the West Coast.  The article on the left from the Circleville Herald, Circleville, Ohio, from March 25th makes note of Linda’s upcoming appearance on the Bob Crosby show on April 2nd.  In the article, it states that Linda is 24 years old.  In fact, by this time, she was 32.  Recall that in the booklet to Professor Raja’s cd he noted that “when Linda Keene arrived in Boston in the fall of 1937, she had convinced all those in the entertainment circles that she was 19.”  If this was true then seven years later in 1944 she would have been 26 and not 24 by that estimate.  Her age was reversing even more by that rate.  More importantly, the Circleville article references that she had been in Hollywood to make a screen test. It also references her previous engagements at “The Famous Door” and “Cafe Society”.  By the way, I could find no radio transcription for her performance on the Bob Crosby program.

  There would be no further Variety notices for Linda Keene for the remainder of 1944 and nothing new in Billboard until September of that year.  A little over a week after her April 2nd appearance on the Bob Crosby radio program, she is, however, listed in local media as appearing in Las Vegas.  This was the early days of Las Vegas and not the glitz and glamor of today with huge hotels and casinos.  Linda’s appearance was at the Nevada Biltmore Hotel which was more like a motel with a number of bungalows:

Nevada Biltimore HotelIt is likely that Linda Keene opened on April 10th and performed through April 23rd.  Below is the advertisement than ran in the Las Vegas Review Journal on April 11th, 1944: 

Linda Keene is in Las VegasIf you click on the above advertisement to make it larger, you will notice that Linda Keene is billed as “Famous Singer Direct From Bob Crosby’s CBS Show!”  Below that, the tag reads “Has made over 1,000 Victor Recordings!”  What an amazing statement to make.  Linda had only recorded six songs for RCA Victor and those were the tracks included in the “Strictly From Dixie” 78rpm album.  If she had made over 1,000 Victor recordings then her fame would have been phenomenal and there would be no need for this blahg. 

   Other advertisements for Linda’s engagement at the Nevada Biltmore Hotel included this one on August 18th: 

Linda still in Las Vegasand this final one on August 22nd: 

Linda Keene closing in Las VegasAgain, by clicking on both of the advertisements from above, you will notice the tag line appears in each, stating “has made over 1,000 Victor records.”  I only wish that were true. 

   I could find no further notices for Linda Keene until September of 1944.  She may have been performing on the west coast but nothing popped up when searching for her name during the months April through August.  It wasn’t until a notice in the September 15th New York Daily News that we discover she is back on the east coast and performing again at Kelly’s Stable. 

Linda Keene at Kelly's StableBy all accounts, this was Linda Keene’s third time at Kelly’s Stable in New York.  The notices that I have uncovered had her first appearing there in December of 1941 and then for a second time in most of June of 1942.  More than two years later, she was back at the same club.  Note that Charlie Shavers was also appearing at Kelly’s Stable with Linda Keene.  In less than a year, Linda would be in the studio with Shavers laying down the last of her official recordings. 

Billboard notices for Linda Keene at Kelly's StableBillboard would include Linda Keene in their route information, for her appearances at Kelly’s Stable, in their September 23rd, September 30th, and October 7th editions.  This would have been another good run for Linda at Kelly’s Stable, opening on September 15th and closing sometime during the first week of October. 

Another odd thing happened while Linda Keene was appearing at Kelly’s Stable.  By the end of September, wire services were all running the same article:  Linda Keene married and then divorced

This article appeared in several papers on September 28th, 1944 and variations of the article were appearing as late as the first week of November: 

Linda Keene is divorcingI could not find anything about Harrison Bryon White III.  I suspect that Linda married him when she was on the West Coast and separation from him might have been another reason for her return to the East Coast.  The late October/early November notice was deliberately set to coincide with Linda returning again in late October to Kelly’s Stable. 

   Although Billboard listed route information for Linda Keene at Kelly’s Stable in their October 7th issue, it certainly wasn’t correct or may have been for the week previous.  An advertisement in the October 2nd, New York Daily News showed that Linda Keene was now appearing again at The Glass Hat: 

LInda Keene at The Glass HatLinda was part of an “All Star Fall Revue”.  Her last appearance at The Glass Hat was in July 1943 when she appeared in a Summer Revue.  Linda Keene revue at the Glass HatLinda received a favorable mention in an article following Miss America of 1943 and 1944 who had attended the performances at that club.  The highlight was that Linda was still singing “Unlucky Woman” when she appeared at The Glass Hat. 

   It is likely that Linda’s engagement at The Glass Hat was for two weeks Linda Keene at Kelly's Stable again October 1944because by October 14th, the New York Daily News was advertising Linda back at Kelly’s Stable again. Once more, Linda was appearing on the same bill with Charlie Shavers.  Similar advertisements would appear over the next two weeks with the last one appearing in the New York Daily News on October 27th.  If Linda Keene remained in New York in November of 1944, there were no advertisements for her appearances after The Glass Hat.

   The only news we have of Linda Keene from November of 1944 was that she returned to the recording studio on November 29th to record two tracks with the Joe Marsala Band.  After singing “Unlucky Woman” for over a year in various clubs, she recorded that song, along with “Blues In The Storm.” 

Unlucky Woman 78

UNLUCKY WOMAN–LINDA KEENE with JOE MARSALA AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Blues In The Storm - Linda Keene with Joe Marsala

BLUES IN THE STORM–LINDA KEENE with JOE MARSALA AND HIS ORCHESTRA

It had been more than two years since her last studio session with Henry Levine’s band in February of 1944 but her club work had indeed strengthened her voice.  Shades of Blue LP“Unlucky Woman” became the tag name for Linda Keene in Opal Nations’ article ‘Unlucky Woman-The Story of Linda Keene.’  It was this recording which would later be included on the compilation LP “Shades of Blue”, that made Opal Nations sit up and take notice of Linda Keene for the first time: 

Just a while ago I managed to snag a copy of the album ‘Shades of Blue’ on the Al-Fi label.  In among the distaff delights…was an exquisite reading of Carl and Leonard Feather’s torchy Unlucky Woman, originally waxed on Paul Reiner’s Black & White label on November 29th, 1944.  “Who in the world is this extraordinary gal!?” I exclaimed,.  “And how come I have passed on this sensuous diva, full of soulful feeling and exquisite understanding for the low-down, dark-corner blues?”

Both “Unlucky Woman” and “Blues In The Storm” were written by Leonard Feather whom both Opal Nations and Professor Raja maintain was a good friend and influence for Linda Keene.  Leonard Feather also played piano on both tracks. 

   The main problem with “Unlucky Woman” and “Blues In The Storm” was that they were issued on a 12 inch 78rpm record.  This limited hearing the track to home gramophones because commercial units in bars and restaurants could only play the normal 10 inch 78rpm record.  Here’s what Billboard had to say about the record in their February 10, 1945 issue:

Billboard reviews Blues In The StormIt’s too bad that despite the glowing review, Billboard felt it necessary to add the disclaimer that “unfortunately, this is a 12-incher and cannot be fitted for the music machines.”  Another review of Unlucky Woman & Blues In The StormAs late as August 13, 1945, positive reviews were still being published like the one on the right from the San Francisco Chronicle on that date: 

 

   The recording session with Joe Marsala was not Linda’s last hurrah for 1944.  By the middle of December, Linda Keene was appearing on the radio and a nightclub in Boston.  Linda Keene on Everything For The Girls

The radio appearance was on a “weekly New England WAC Show” called “Everything For The Girls!” that aired on December 16, 1944.  Sorry, I could not find a radio transcription for this one either.  Linda Keene New Year's Eve Boston 1944Further searches through Boston newspapers revealed that Linda Keene was also appearing at the Fox and Hounds Club in Boston as noted in the article to the left from the Boston Globe on December 20th, 1944.  An article about  New Year’s Eve programs in various clubs in Boston, from the Boston Globe on December 27th, revealed that Linda Keene woud be part of the program at the Fox and Hounds. 

LInda Keene at the Fox and Hounds on New Year's Eve

1945

   It is likely that after Linda Keene’s New Year’s Eve appearance at the Fox and Hounds Club in Boston, she finished her engagement there.  New shows primarily began on a Monday and New Year’s Eve 1944 was on a Sunday evening.  There were no further mentions of Linda Keene, at least, in Boston in January of 1945.  The next notice for Linda Keene to start off 1945 came as a notice in The Evening Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, on January 25, 1945.

Linda Keene in BaltimoreLinda Keene was scheduled to appear as part of the entertainment for the President’s Birthday Ball at the Armory in Baltimore on January 29th, 1945.  She was chosen with other performers from Baltimore night clubs but my research could not find at what night club Linda Keene had been appearing. Another article about the President’s Birthday Ball appeared two days later in The Evening Sun, Baltimore on January 27th:

Linda Keene to appear in BaltimoreOn January 29th, The Evening Sun published a thank you advertisement in which Linda Keene was mentioned:

 Linda Keene among those who gets thanks in BaltimoreWhat is interesting to note from the above notice was that other artists were listed and the club at which they were performing.  Nothing was noted for Linda Keene except “Singer of Songs”.  The subsequent reviews of the event noted that then President Franklin Roosevelt was not in attendance but the event was attended by Senator George L. Radcliffe as the Governor and Mayor were also not available. 

Review of President's Ball in Baltimore

Review of the President's Ball

   In February of 1945, Linda Keene returned to the recording studio again to produce four more tracks on the Black and White label.  This was the same label she recorded for with Joe Marsala in November of 1944 but this time she would be recording with Charlie Shavers who had been on the bill with her at Kelly’s Stable in the fall of 1944.  The session on February 16, 1945 would also be supervised by her good friend Leonard Feather and Red Norvo would play vibes.  Obviously this was a contingent of friends and playmates supporting Linda on what would turn out to be her last official recording session. 

I DON’T STAND A GHOST OF A CHANCE WITH YOU–LINDA KEENE WITH CHARLIE SHAVERS & RED NORVO

I MUST HAVE THAT MAN 78

I MUST HAVE THAT MAN–LINDA KEENE WITH CHARLIE SHAVERS & RED NORVO

I do not have images for the 78rpm record of the next two recordings.  The image would be similar to those above listing the same personnel but having a different song title on each side.  For the record, pardon the pun, “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” and “Blues On My Weary Mind” were 19A and 19B on the Black & White Label. 

GEE BABY, AIN’T I GOOD TO YOU–LINDA KEENE WITH CHARLIE SHAVERS & RED NORVO

———————————–

BLUES ON MY WEARY MIND–LINDA KEENE WITH CHARLIE SHAVERS & RED NORVO

A review of sorts was published on the website, https://www.allmusic.com by Arwulf Arwulf upon the release of the CD set “The Chronological Charlie Shavers:  1944-1945” in 1997. The Chronological Charlie Shavers 1944-1945 Arwulf wrote, “The mood shifts down to first gear for Linda Keene’s session for Black and White Records. Shavers is able to relax and provide easygoing support for this pleasant vocalist.” 

   The four tracks with Shavers are, in my opinion, a good example of a more mature singer.  Linda Keene was 33 when she recorded these songs.  She had been the girl singer with big bands and orchestras, appeared in Soundies, performed a number of times on radio but by 1945 she was relegated to nightclub work.  There was still a war on but of the orchestras that were still performing in the United States, few had female singers.  It was the dawn of the singer as solo vocalist.  Take Frank Sinatra, for example, he had left Dorsey in September of 1942.  He’d been performing to sold-out shows, had his own radio show, and was now making a name for himself in motion-pictures.  Linda, had none of this.  Despite her nightclub work, she had no regular radio show and her screen test in Hollywood failed to produce any results.  The moment in her life was fading. 

   I didn’t want to end off this blahg with just a note on her final recordings in 1945.  I believe a natural break would be to follow her career, at this point, to the end of 1945.  After her recording session with Charlie Shavers and company, she had no idea that she wouldn’t continue to make good.  She kept on working.  Linda Keene USO show in TexasThe spring of 1945 might have been sparse, however, because I could not find any further media notices for Linda until June of 1945.  Variety carried nothing for Linda Keene for all of 1945 and Billboard wouldn’t Linda Keene in Right About Rhythm in Victoriareport next on Linda until December of that year.  It appears that by June of 1945 Linda Keene was performing again with the USO.  The Victoria Advocate, out of Victoria, Texas made note in their June 22, 1945 issue that a new USO stage show was set for July 3rd at the Aloe Army Airfield.  Linda Keene review of USO in Victoria, TexasLinda Keene was part of the new “Right About Rhythm” USO show.  The June 29th Victoria Advocate highlighted Linda Keene for the USO Show.  The July 6th edition of the Victoria Advocate noted there was a packed house for the performance. 

   The “Right About Rhythm” show probably played a number of military bases not covered by local media. Lidna Keene at Barksdale Air Force BaseThe next regular media notice was in the July 7th Barksdale’s Bark (Barksdale Field, Louisiana) for an appearance of the USO show at the Barksdale Air Force Base.  Linda received another good billing with a nod to her previous connection with the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street.  The  July 7th Barksdale’s Bark also featured a small advertisement for the USO show carrying Linda Keene’s name.

Linda Keene in the Right About Rhythm Show

    Later in July, there was another media notice for the show coming to the Linda Keene in the Rigth About Rhythm ShowSmyrna Army Air Field in Nashville, Tennessee.  LInda Keene Right About Rhythm in NashvilleThe Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) from July 23rd provided a nice notice for the show on July 26th with Linda Keene’s name getting prominence.  Linda was also mentioned in a subsequent article advertising the show in the July 25th Tennessean.  There was one more performance of the show in July on the 30th at Camp Breckinridge in Morganfield, Kentucky.  The LInda Keene & Right About Rhythm at Camp BreckinridgeEvansville Courier and Press, Evansville, Indiana,  ran a notice about the show  in their July 22nd, 1945 edition.  There may have been other shows throughout the summer of 1945 but only Camp newspapers or military newspapers would have published notice of these shows. 

   The “Right About Rhythm” show continued into August with an appearance at the Camp Gruber military base in Oklahoma.  The camp newspaper, The Gruber Guidon, on August 10th, 1945, carried a two-part article about the show that would be performed on the base on August 15th and 16th. 

Linda Keene and Right About Rhythm at Camp GruberLinda Keene at Camp Gruber Part 2

This was the last appearance for the “Right About Rhythm” USO that I could find that mentioned Linda Keene’s name.  I have found some notices for the show in the early months of 1945 but none of the articles mentioned Linda Keene among the performers.  The first article was the one on June 22nd in the Victoria Advocate and that last being the article above for the Camp Gruber appearances in August. 

   Linda Keene’s notices were quiet for the rest of the summer and into the fall of 1945.  In fact, the next notice about Linda Keene wasn’t until the Linda Keene at the Village VanguardDecember 29th issue of Billboard where a small article mentioned that Linda Keene had started at the Village Vanguard in New York on December 18th.  The same issue of Billboard also carried a review of Linda Keene’s performance at the Village Vanguard on December 19th:

Review of Linda Keene at the Village Vanguard

 

Linda Keene was back in New York at the end of 1945, performing in a nightclub again.  This was her strength at that time although the article wasn’t flattering on her gestures and manners, the reviewer had nice things to say about her voice and delivery.  Notable in the article was the mention of two songs she performed.  “Frim-Fram” was of course “Frim-Fram Sauce” made famous by Nat King Cole’s October 1945 recording.  The other song was another Leonard Feather composition, “Blow Top Blues”  that Etta Jones with Barney Bigard and His Orchestra had recorded on December 29th, 1944 for the Black & White label with Leonard Feather playing piano.  This was the same label that Linda Keene had recorded for in February of 1945 under the supervision of Leonard Feather.  Here’s Etta Jones’ recording of “Blow Top Blues”:

Blow Top Blues - Etta Jones

BLOW TOP BLUES–ETTA JONES with BARNEY BIGARD AND HIS ORCHESTRA

It would have been interesting to hear Linda Keene take a turn on the song at the Village Vanguard.  No doubt, her friend Leonard Feather probably had his hand in her performing the song at that time.

   Linda Keene’s engagement at the Village Vanguard probably closed out 1945 for her.  It also closes out this blahg.  This blahg has been extensive in the amount of work I have chosen to put into it.  Linda Keene was in her prime in the late 1930s and into the mid 1940s.  I wanted to include as much information as I could to cover this prime period that included all of her official recordings.  Part three, I hope will be just as detailed following Linda Keene into the twilight of her career.  It will be interesting, to say the least, and will include an amazing surprise.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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