Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Earl Russell and his Big Band

Can it really be almost nine years since Conrad Russell died?

In October 2004 I wrote:
Conrad Russell died last week, an irreplaceable loss to the Liberal Democrats and to Liberalism in general. There were worthy obituaries in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. I remember his saying once, rather overgenerously, that I did for the party what Matthew Parris does for the country. 
I also remember his asking me, as his wife had always wondered, why Lord Bonkers talked about Earl Russell and his Big Band. I explained that as there were band leaders called Count Basie and Duke Ellington... When I was studying philosophy as an undergraduate, I never dreamed that I would have this conversation with Bertrand Russell's son.
I also recall that David Boyle found the exchange inordinately amusing.

My reason for recalling it - apart from urging anyone who has joined the party in the last nine years to read that Guardian obituary - is that today I discovered there really was an Earl Russell and his Big Band. Or at least an Earl Russell Orchestra.

Harlan Online recalls:
In the 1940s, swing dancing was sweeping the nation. With people flocking to dance halls, bands began springing up, including the Earl Russell Orchestra. Led by George Stoltz, the Earl Russell Orchestra, made up of people primarily in the Shelby County area, played big band and swing music throughout Iowa and parts of Nebraska.
And thanks to that website for the loan of the photograph above.

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Manfarang said...

And long may the Expedient Brass Band march on.

Judith said...

I was surprised to find this image on your blog. My dad played in the Earl Russell Orchestra (he's in the front row, playing sax, on the right). From what I understand (and this is only from oral history), they just came up with the name "Earl Russell" out of the blue. There never was a person of that name in the orchestra or associated with the orchestra. They played a lot of dances in the small towns around the area. Very popular.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Judith!

Anonymous said...

I'm George Stolz's youngest granddaughter. You are correct on the name. I remember my grandpa telling me all the stories. He played the big stand up bass. I miss him dearly.