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Bob Pope’s name first appears in 1923 as the trumpet player with the Arcadia Peacock Orchestra of St. Louis. He remained with this group until mid-year 1925 when he joined the Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra as their “Hot” trumpeter.


In late 1935, Pope left the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he began auditioning and recruiting musicians for the new band he was forming.


His new Orchestra consisted of the following musicians:

Bob Pope – Leader, Trumpet, Vocals

Howard Gaffney - Trumpet

Tommy Hatcher - Trumpet

Howard Gibeling - Trombone and arranger

Sonny Thorpe - Reeds

Vic Christenson - Alto

J.V. Johnson - Tenor Sax

Nolan Canova (Cousin of comedienne, Judy Canova) - Tenor Sax and Vocals

Mac McGowan - Piano

Fowler Hays - Bass

Johnny Blowers - Drums

Dixie Lee Southern - Vocalist


In February, 1936, the band left Atlanta for a string of one-nighters on their way to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they were booked to play lunch and dinner sessions at The Hotel Charlotte. They would also broadcast several times a week over WBT, the local CBS affiliate and soon made Charlotte their band headquarters.

At this point, the band became known as Bob Pope and His Hotel Charlotte Orchestra.


During this period, Pope signed a contract with RCA Victor for three recording dates. The recordings were made in an old Charlotte building which was rigged up as a studio. The sides were released on the Bluebird label.


In April 1937, during their stay in Birmingham, The Bob Pope Orchestra made their final recording session for the American Record Company.


Pope’s musicians knew him to be a very difficult and intimidating individual, especially as a result of his excessive drinking. He was extremely distant with everyone of his musicians and never reflected on his long affiliation with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra. He was considered to be a very poor manager of the band.


The members of the Pope Band, all agreed that the Orchestra’s greatest assets were the extraordinary arrangements, which were charted by their trombonist, Howard Gibeling. After Gibeling left the Pope Band, he went on to arrange for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.


In September of 1937, as Pope’s drinking worsened and was often deplorably displayed on the bandstand, his band members began to give their departure notices and shortly thereafter; the Bob Pope Band was no more.


Dixie Lee Southern returned to her hometown of Atlanta, where she resumed her singing career with a local band. In early 1938, she suffered severe despondency and as a consequence ended her own life, by taking poison.


Vague information has surfaced that Bob Pope died, on stage, during a performance in Indianapolis, in the early 50’s; but extensive investigation regarding his passing is still a mystery.


Auditioning the Pope Orchestra recordings today, verifies that it was truly a very fine Band and should have rightfully garnered greater prominence and acclaim then it achieved during it’s very brief musical existence.



1.    The information for these liner notes emanates from Johnny Blowers, drummer with the Bob Pope Hotel Charlotte Orchestra. Our telephone conversations, his vivid memories and his wonderful book, “Back Beats And Rim Shots” by Warren W. Vache have been the source for this enlightening history.


Johnny Blowers was born in 1911 and as of this writing, is still very active as a Drummer in the New York City Area. Truly an amazing individual!


2. The Bob Pope Orchestra Discography source is Brian Rust’s Jazz Records – 1897-1942


3. The recordings used in this CD are from the collections of William Weicker, Ed Noble and Kenn E.   



4. The superb restoration process of transferring these 78 RPM recordings to Compact Disc is the genius of Ed Noble.


Kenn E. Vitek

September 1, 2003



Bob Pope And His Hotel Charlotte Orchestra, 1936 – 1937


Bob Pope – t – v - dir.

Nolan Canova – v

Dixie Lee Southern – v

Johnny Blowers – d – v


 February 13, 1936 – Charlotte, North Carolina.


 94695-1 West Wind – v NC BB B-6283,  Vic  JR-54,  RZ  MR-2081
 94696-1 The Bug# BB B-6300,  RZ   MR-2105
 94697-1 Early Bird – v BP BB B-6283,  Vic  JR-54


February 16, 1936 – Charlotte, North Carolina


99153-1   Green Fields And Bluebirds   v NC BB B-6286
99154-1   Saddle Your Blues To A Wild Mustang   v NC (T1) BB B-6284 ,  RZ  MR-2078
99155-1   Moon Rose   v BP (T1) BB B-6284,   RZ  MR-2078
99156-1 Breakin’ In a Pair Of Shoes   v DLS BB B-6285
99157-1 Wah-Hoo   v DLS, BP, NC BB B-6285,   RZ  MR-2080
99158-1 Shoe-Shine Boy   v DLS BB B-6286
99159-1 That Lovely Night In Budapest   v NC BB B-6299
99160-1 That Never-To-Be-Forgotten Night   v NC BB B-6299
99161-1 Stop That Dog (He’s Goin’ Mad) – v DLS **# BB B-6300


June 21, 1936 – Charlotte, North Carolina


102749-1 There’s A Small Hotel – v NC BB B-6453,  Vic  JR-74
102750-1  Take My Heart – v NC BB B-6454,  Vic  JR-64,  RZ  MR-2194
102751-1   On Your Toes BB B-6453,  Vic  JR-74,  RZ  MR-2320
102752-1   Big Chief De Sota – v BP BB B-6452
102763-1   These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You – v NC BB B-6452
102764-1   Let’s Get Hot And Truck BB B-6471
102765-1   Let’s Sing Again – v BB B-6454,  Vic  JR-64,  RZ  MR-2194
102766-1   Madhouse BB B-6508
102767-1   On The Alamo – v NC BB B-6502
102768-1   When My Baby Smiles At Me – v NC BB B-6502
102769-1   Swamp Fire  BB B-6471





April 11, 1937 – Birmingham, Alabama.


B-117-1    When My Dreamboat Comes Home * ARC 7-07-12
B-117-1    Blue Skies ARC 7-06-16
B-119-1    Marie ARC 8-02-06
B-120-2    Rockin’ Chair – v BP-JB ARC 8-02-06
B-121-1    I’ll Always Be In Love With You ARC 7-07-05
B-122-1    Whoa Babe! – v BP ** ARC 7-07-05
B-124-1    The First Time I Saw You – v NC ARC 7-06-16
B-128-1    Nero** ARC 7-08-15
B-129-1    Washington Squabble ARC 7-08-15
B-130-1    Always* ARC 7-07-12


*   This record ARC 7-07-12 has yet to be located.

** These tunes were not included because the time limit of the CD precludes their inclusion. It is hoped that none of these excluded tunes are your special favorite.

#  The four tunes from BB 8284 and BB 6300 are available onlt from first generation reel-to-reel master tape, rather then direct digital transfers. Thus the three from these records inclided on this CD are not direct digital transfers.


For your convienence, the following track list of the Bob Pope CD is as follows:


                   Bob Pope and his Charlotte Hotel Orchestra



01 94695-1 West Wind   v Nolan Canova 2:59 2/13/1936
02 94696-1 The Bug (T1) 2:59 2/13/1936
03 94697-1 Early Bird   v BP 2:48 2/13/1936
04 99153-1 Green Fields And Bluebirds   v NC 3:02 2/16/1936
05 99154-1 Saddle Your Blues To A Wild Mustang   v NC (T1) 3:07 2/16/1936
06 99155-1 Moon Rose   v BP (T1) 2:24 2/16/1936
07 99156-1 Breakin’ In a Pair Of Shoes   v DLS 2:38 2/16/1936
08 99157-1 Wah-Hoo   v DLS, BP, NC 2:58 2/16/1936
09 99158-1 Shoe-Shine Boy   v DLS 3:29 2/16/1936
10 99159-1 That Lovely Night In Budapest   v NC 3:09 2/16/1936
11 99160-1 That Never-To-Be-Forgotten Night   v NC 3:13 2/16/1936
12 102749-1 There’s A Small Hotel   v NC 2:50 7/21/1936
13 102750-1 Take My Heart   v NC 3:14 7/21/1936
14 102751-1 On Your Toes 2:21 7/21/1936
15 102752-1 Big Chief De Sota   v BP 3:12 7/21/1936
16 102763-1 These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You    v NC 3:22 7/21/1936
17 102764-1 Let’s Get Hot And Truck 2:19 7/21/1936
18 102765-1 Let’s Sing Again   v NC 2:44 7/21/1936
19 102766-1 Madhouse 2:10 7/21/1936
20 102767-1 On The Alamo   v NC 2:21 7/21/1936
21 102768-1 When My Baby Smiles At Me   v NC 2:25 7/21/1936
22 102769-1 Swamp Fire 2:35 7/21/1936
23 B-118-2 Blue Skies 2:54 4/11/1937
24 B-119-1 Marie 2:29 4/11/1937
25 B-120-2 Rockin’ Chair   v BP, Johnny Blowers 2:39 4/11/1937
26 B-121-1 I’ll Always Be In Love With You 2:36 4/11/1937
27 B-122-1 The First Time I Saw You   v NC 2:57 4/11/1937
28 B-129-1 Washington Squabble 3:10 4/11/1937


        Total Time  - 79:26

        T1 = first generation transfer from reel-to-reel master