The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Saluting Louis Armstrong with a Favorite Song on a Special Day

Saluting Louis Armstrong with a Favorite Song on a Special Day

#93 / July 8 Podcast

In the genesis of American popular music, few moments are as important as one that occurred exactly 100 years ago tonight.

Louis Armstrong was just 20 years old — nervous and apprehensive — when he stepped off a train from his New Orleans hometown into Chicago’s Illinois Central Station just before midnight on July 8, 1922.

“Anybody watching me closely could have easily seen that I was a country boy,” Armstrong wrote in his first memoir, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans (1954). “I thought to myself: ‘Huh. I don’t think I am going to like this old town.’” But that old town certainly would like him.

Louis might never have gotten on that train in the first place — after all, he already had seen so many talented musicians come back to New Orleans broke and licking their wounds — but he had been called to the windy northern city to play second cornet with his long-time idol, the legendary Joe “King” Oliver in his Creole Jazz Band.

We’re all so lucky the wide-eyed young man made that trek. It was the first step in Louis Armstrong’s birth as America’s first music superstar.

In Chicago, Armstrong would steadily outshine the rest of King Oliver’s band. Before long he created his own Hot Five and Hot Seven bands. Their records throughout the 1920s and ‘30s document jazz’s rapid early evolution, and they fill hundreds of pages in The Great American Songbook.

What Song to Feature?

So many great songs! It was hard for us to choose just one we to play to celebrate this momentous centennial.

After all, many tunes in The Flood’s repertoire are ones that we first heard on an Louis Armstrong recording, ranging from “St. Louis Blues,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Sunny Side of the Street” to “All of Me,” “Basin Street Blues” and “Wonderful World.”

We finally settled on one of the Louis’s own favorites.

“Dinah,” the biggest hit for Tin Pan Alley composer Harry Akst, was just five years old when Louis Armstrong recorded it for Okeh in 1930. The trumpeter’s love the tune is apparent in the fact that for the next 40 years, he would perform it in most of his numerous live shows and on his radio appearances.

The ultimate anthem to the sweetheart of the Roarin’ 20s, “Dinah” was introduced by singer Ethel Waters at the Plantation Club on Broadway within a year of its composition in 1925. It then went on to be recorded by everyone from Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker to Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers and the Boswell Sisters to Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk and Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

Curious Footnote

Incidentally, one singer — Fanny Rose Shore — became so identified with the song in the late 1930s that when radio DJ Martin Block could not remember Shore’s name one night, he called her “that Dinah girl.” The label stuck and became her stage name; she would be “Dinah Shore” for the next 50 years.

Our Take on the Tune

On this track, as we’re sitting with “Dinah,” we bet you can hearing the grins going around the room!

Listen to all the musical bantering, from Veezy playfully comping behind the vocals to Danny’s happy passing chords under the solos.

As Louis himself might say, joy comes in many forms — and some of them you can hum!

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: