Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I am not the only professional musician in the family. My Grandpa Joe was a trumpet player in Big Bands back in their heyday. I love playing jazz piano and singing with Big Bands, but can you imagine what it would have been like to play those great swing standards as they were being composed. I can hear it now: "Hey guys, did you hear the new Duke Ellington tune?" I hear people say they wished they'd been alive during the 60s to hear the great music then, but I would have liked to have been around during the 30s and 40s.

My grandpa joined the army like everyone else during World War II, but he was in the army band. So while others were flying planes and dropping bombs, he was playing showtunes where he was stationed: Palm Springs. He played parties for celebrities in support of war bonds. Kind of a nice way to spend a war, don't you think?

After the war, he returned to Louisville, got married, and started having babies. Music was put on the back-burner for just long enough to drive him crazy, I imagine. So he started playing with bands again. I can understand this need to play music; it's genetic.

Joe was playing a party in Southern Indiana on the evening of July 14, 1951, when he got word that his wife Evelyn had gone into labor across the river in Louisville. After finishing the first set, he hopped in his car and rushed to the hospital just in time to hear word that he had a daughter, premature but breathing. He asked the doctor what he should do.

"What were you doing before?" the doctor asked my grandfather.

"Playing a gig in Indiana," he replied.

"Well, go back to the gig then."

So Joe hopped back in his car and rushed across the river and got back to the venue just in time to start the second set. A true professional musician.

And that's the story of how my mom was born during intermission.

Happy Birthday, Mom. (Did I make you cry?)

1 comment:

  1. My Grandfather was in the Navy band during the war, and his Dad played in the military band in a war before that. Both drummers. My last boyfriend was a drummer. I am the only serious singer in my family.