Cedar Falls
The Iowa Collegians dance band

Author's collection

Post card, postmarked June 2, 1927

About This Image

The sign on the spare tire cover reads "The Iowa Collegians from ISTC, Cedar Falls." ISTC stands for Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa.), which suggests that the membership was drawn from the student body of the college. The automobile used as a prop, on the other hand, attests to the band's mobility. Newspaper accounts show the band playing dates in Iowa, Wisconsin, and the upper pennisula of Michigan in 1927, although there are indications that by the late 1927, Kipp was no longer a student at ITSC and that his band had become a professional "territory band" (i.e., a band that is active in a particular region of the country).


History of the Iowa Collegians

References to the "Iowa Collegians" in jazz history books and online are mostly to refer to an earlier band - an Iowa City-based band led by Merton "Bromo" Sulser from 1924-25. Sulser's band is remembered because Bix Beiderbecke played with the ensemble briefly in 1925 when he enrolled came of the road and enrolled as a student at the University of Iowa. (Beiderbecke quickly dropped out of college and out of the band.)

The first references that I have located to "Roy Kipp & His Iowa Collegians" date from 1927. Therefore, it is possible that this is the same band under different leadership, although I have found no evidence that that is the case so far.

Newspaper ads and announcements from the late 1920s show the band performing in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the upper pennisula of Michigan. A reference from the February 29, 1928 edition of ISTC's College Eye describes Kipp as a "former student and New York City Orchestra leader." This reference, along with the bands' relatively far-ranging travel itinerary, are the evidence that by late 1927, Kipp had probably graduated and was pursuing a career as a professional band leader. I have yet to uncover any evidence that Kipp was active in the New York City area.

Starting in 1930, one begins to find newspaper references to "Roy Kip and his Recording Orchestra," suggesting that Kipp dropped the "Iowa Collegian" name around this time. Nevertheless, much more research on my part is necessary for a clearer picture of the history of this group.