Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Glen Island, Glenn Miller

I used to listen to WNEW years ago, when AM radio still played music and when WNEW was pretty serious about what my wife now calls boo-boo-boo music -- Sinatra, Crosby, Tony Bennett, Nat Cole. WNEW's playlist was heavy on big bands like Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, the Dorseys and Glenn Miller, and its DJs (William B. Williams, Jim Lowe and especially Jonathan Schwartz) liked the music for more than just nostalgic reasons and seemed to know what they were talking about.

One recording in particular of Glenn Miller and his orchestra, broadcast on the radio probably in the early 1940s, started with an announcer introducing Miller to the listeners and the dancers and club-goers at Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, overlooking Long Island Sound. The song was probably "Moonlight Serenade," and the tone of the announcer's voice, the easy pace of the music, and the invocation of "Glen Island Casino" and "Long Island Sound" were as evocative of an era I never knew as anything in Gatsby.

If you're in the area, go to Glen Island tonight to hear our friend Barbara Davis, the New Rochelle City Historian, give a presentation about the history of Glen Island. She'll talk about the Glen Island Casino and the Swing Era, as well as the island's place in Native American and Revolutionary War history, and lots else. It's free, at the Glen Island Harbor Club (which unless I'm mistaken is the updated and tackier version of the Casino) from 7:30 to 9:30. Two County Legislators, Jim Maisano and Vito Pinto, are sponsoring the talk.

I don't know if Barbara has a copy of that Glenn Miller recording. If she does, it'd be a great way to start her talk. Here's a version that unfortunately doesn't include the radio intro that I remember.

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Blogger colter said...

Hi! I found your blog by Googling Glenn Miller and Glen Island Casino. As a recent transplant to NYC, and a fan of Miller's 1942 live recording, I want to visit Glen Island soon. Is the Harbor Club built on the same site as the casino? Do you know if any of the original structure survives?

1:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Andersen + Gina Federico said...

I'm pretty sure the Harbor Club is on the site of the old Casino, but I don't know if any of the original structure still stands. Barbara Davis, the New Rochelle city historian, would know better than I. You can probably reach her through city hall. Tell her I said hi. -- Tom Andersen

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the famous Glen Island engagement was in 1939. This engagement sky rocketed the band to it's well deserved fame. On the air check, you hear a very nerve sricken Miller announcing the number. Also, you can hear what appears to be dinner plates being tossed about. Thank you for keeping great American history alive.--Adam Finney

3:31 PM  
Blogger joel rochow said...

Glen Island performance was May 17, 1939, and Glen was introduced by Hugh James. NBC (?) went back to the vaults and issued an audio cassette begging with "Sunrise Serenade," and many other Miller band classicis. The cassette, issued by NBC International, transfers surprisingly well to CD (Acoustica Spin-It-Again software).
I "grew up" with Miller in my living room in Western Springs, IL. No choice - my brother was hooked!

6:16 PM  

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