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|
|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-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-129-1||Washington Squabble||ARC 7-08-15|
* 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|
|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|
|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|
Total Time - 79:26