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Playing this Summer: Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 24, 2011 - PROFILE: Looking for music that harkens back to an earlier era - a much earlier era? We're not talking the '80s ... even the '60s. We're talking the 1920s through the early 1950s - before rock and roll turned the music world upside down. Several St. Louis bands mine those rich musical decades, from the eclectic approach of Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three to the bluesy, acoustic groove of the Rum Drum Ramblers. But if you want to hear classic sounds with irresistible grooves hot enough to propel you to the dance floor and shake it, you need to hear Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers.

Think Louis Jordan ... Wynonie Harris ... Big Mama Thornton ... Etta James. The Humdingers - led by vocalist Valerie Kirchoff (aka Miss Jubilee), who also plays ukulele and kazoo - lay down hot jazz, swing and rootsy R&B with style and energy. The rest of the band includes: Dan Conner - drums, Eddie Clayton - piano, Mike Thomas - guitar, Lawrence Welby - upright bass, Chloe Feoranzo - tenor sax and clarinet, Lew Winer III - tenor and soprano sax and Jason Torrey - baritone sax. They've become favorites at the Casa Loma Ballroom for swing dances and are now at work on a CD as well. But you can catch them in a free concert this Thursday at Grand Center - followed by the film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou."

Here's some more info on the band - provided by vocalist Miss Jubilee herself:

HOME: St. Louis

AGE: The band formed five years ago.

INSTRUMENTS: Vocals, saxophones, piano, guitar, upright bass, drums, ukulele

HOBBIES: Swing dancing, seeing great live music, searching for more St. Louis music history, finding vintage clothes.

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: Blues City Deli's StreetFest

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Bringing hot jazz into the Band.

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: We started as a band for people to swing dance to and it's grown into a larger audience. There is so much amazing music from the 1920s - '50s that we feel people should still get out to hear live! Most of the music we play was well known in its day and just faded through time. In fact, we've started to do songs from some St. Louis female singers. It's great to see people that get the whole idea behind this band.

QUOTE: "If ya ain't got it in ya, ya can't blow it out!"

--Louis Armstrong

For more info on Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers, and the band's upcoming schedule, go to their website: www.missjubilee.com.

Thursday @ The Intersection

This new free concert series takes place in the heart of Grand Center at Strauss Park - located right across the street from the Fox Theater and in front of Jazz at the Bistro and the Kota Grill. Sponsored by Boeing and booked by KDHX (which will move its headquarters to Grand Center just east of jazz at the Bistro in the coming year), the series features live music from 6-8 p.m. followed by the screening of a classic film at approximately 8:30. After you check out Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers this Thursday night, stick around to see "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Free popcorn is available, and there's certainly plenty of food and drink available from nearby restaurants. Folding chairs will be set up on the patio of Strauss Park, near the fountain. Or bring blankets or chairs if you want to sit on the grass. This is the final concert of the 2011 series.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who has long covered music. 

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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