Thursday, September 8, 2022

Friday Fun - Hartford's State Theatre

One of the best "side benefits" of modeling a particular time and place is opportunity to really get into and absorb that time and place - everything from the music, to the movies, the cars, what going on in the world at the time. In fact, I embrace this aspect of the hobby explicitly when I share what I've learned in the Crew Calls I send out before my operating sessions.

It really creates the closest thing to a time machine that I can imagine - and it's a great way to get my operators to join me on my journey into the past.

The only downside I can imagine is that there's no "new" old stuff being created - it's all back there in the past, and not being added to. But some of it is still waiting to be (re)discovered - and every once in a while, just when you think you know everything there is to know about your chosen era, you discover something new.

That happened to me this week.

I was listening to Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall recording of Sing, Sing, Sing for about the millionth time, and was mesmerized my Jess Stacy's piano solo toward the end. That sent me down a rabbit hole to learn more about Jess Stacy (which is a really interesting story, btw) and the BG band of the late 1930s.

Other than the time traveling aspect, what does all this have to do with the Valley Local? Well, this site isn't just about the model railroad I'm building in my basement - it's as much about the time and place that sets the stage. And while it predates my chosen era by about 10 years, for one brief, shining moment, the famous Benny Goodman Band played at the State Theater in Hartford, CT - only a few blocks from the Valley Line - and BG even performed a special song for the occasion called The Hartford Stomp.

Here's the full broadcast:

And you can hear The Hartford Stomp below:

Another fun find down that rabbit hole was a series of programs broadcast by Hartford's WTIC radio that focuses on that golden era. Click here for that. And for more about Hartford's State Theater (which, at the time, was New England's largest theater, with almost 4,000 seats), click here. If you want to learn more about the Big Bands that used to perform in Connecticut, click here.

As you can probably tell, these little research rabbit trails can be an especially enjoyable part of this great hobby. I thought I had heard everything that Benny Goodman ever recorded, and now - thanks to following one of those trails - I've discovered a lot of new music that will provide the perfect background and soundtrack for a day operating on the Valley Line.

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