The country was worn and weary from the devastating weight of the Great Depression and two World Wars. Our victorious soldiers were returning home, and the mood was right for big celebrations with energetic music in grand ballrooms. Swing was the thing and folks up for “cutting a rug” sought the right music to jitterbug, foxtrot, jive, or waltz.
The Big Band Era helped buoy the national morale.
Old Orchard Beach was a premier stop of most major acts’ road tour itineraries, drawing eager audiences from throughout New England and even Canada. The Beach’s two elegant venues, the Pier Casino Ballroom and the Palace Ballroom hosted performances by the colossal talents of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington Cab Calloway, Guy Lombardo, Rudy Vallee, Jimmy & Tommy Dorsey, Frances Langford, Lawrence Welk, to name a few. In addition to the nationally renowned bands, Old Orchard Beach native son and trumpeter John Trull led the Palace Ballroom house band, the Lee Russell Orchestra.
This summer 2017, the Old Orchard Beach Historical Society will launch its Big Band Era exhibit at the Harmon Museum, highlighting the historic role Old Orchard Beach played.
The Museum is located at 4 Portland Avenue, Old Orchard Beach (at the top of Main Street). For more information, visit their website or call (207) 934-9319.