Series: Dance Bands

It might be argued that the dance bands that emerged in the late 1910s and 1920s do no properly belong in a collection of images of Iowa's town bands insofar that they did not necessarily represent specific towns and that they represented a subsequent musical tradition that supplanted the town bands. However, they are included here precisely because their rising popularity arguably contributed to the decline of the local town band. Hence, they are part of the town band story.

Regional dance bands emerged at the same time that Iowans were becoming increasingly mobile due to improved roads and widespread automobile ownership. The better musicians were no longer tied to their immediate community, but could drive to a common location to meet a gig. Likewise, the audience for these bands were also able to drive thirty miles or more to hear these bands and dance to their music.

Musical taste was also rapidly evolving, facilitated by the new sounds that were available on records and the radio. Young people were particularly enamored of jazz, a new musical style that town bands were ill-equipped to imitate.

To the extent that the dance bands began to claim the talent and energy of the best young musicians of the 1920s, these same musicians were less engaged with the activities of the town band.

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