Since "The Duke - Where and When" has grown very large, I have moved some material to supporting webpages.
This webpage concerns Ellington's four week residency at The Lincoln Tavern near Chicago in the summer of 1931.

The Duke – Where and When

A Chronicle of Duke Ellington's Working Life and Travels


The 1931 Lincoln Tavern Residency

This webpage was created and
is maintained by,
David Palmquist,
with considerable input
from fellow researchers,
primarily Steven Lasker
and Ken Steiner
Last updated
2021-09-11

Date of event Ending date
(if different)
City/
Other place
Venue Event/People Primary/
reference
New
Desor
reference
DEMS
reference
Other
references
Contact
person
Date added
/ updated

July - August 1931

1931 07 14
Tuesday
1931 08 10
Monday
1931 08 13
Thursday
Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln Tavern
Four miles west of Evanston on Dempster Road

Morton Grove is north-northwest of Chicago
Lincoln Tavern opening night ad in Chicago Daily Tribune, July 14, 1931,p21
Lincoln Tavern opening night ad
Click to Enlarge
Beginning of four-week "roadhouse" residency with nightly W-G-N broadcasts.
  • The broadcasts were listed each day in the Chicago Daily Tribune, W-G-N's owner. It isn't clear if they were carried over the NBC Red network, but they were listed in out-of-state newspapers. A sampling of the distant newspaper radio listings finds the broadcasts listed as originating with W-G-N rather than the network.
  • A four-week residency starting Tuesday should end Monday. An ad in the August 9 Chicago Sunday Tribune says "last two nights," indicating Ellington would be playing Sunday and Monday (August 10), but a column on the radio page of the same edition says Earl Burtnett's band would return to the Lincoln Tavern the next day, suggesting Ellington's residency finished Sunday. Unlike every other day of his orchestra's residency, Ellington is not shown in the Monday radio schedule, but Burtnett is.
  • Chicago Sunday Tribune July 19:

    'Duke Ellington, the Harlem maestro, made his bow over W-G-N from the Lincoln tavern, last Tuesday evening, a hot night. Ellington fights fire with fire–hotter fire. No matter what the thermometer may read his audience sinks into comparative coolness after a half hour of his oxy-acetylene outbursts. '

  • Broadcasts gleaned from the Chicago Daily Tribune and Chicago Sunday Tribune daily radio schedules:
    • Tuesday July 14:
      8:30 (30 minutes), 12:00, 1:00 (11:30 to 1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
      (Ellington's photo shown)
    • Wednesday July 15:
      8:00 (30 minutes), 12:00 (30 minutes) (11:30 to 1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Thursday July 16:
      9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Friday July 17:
      7:45 (15 minutes), 8:45 (15 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Saturday July 18:
      7:30 (30 minutes), 9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Sunday July 19:
      2:00 (30 minutes), 7:30 (30 minutes), 8:45 (30 minutes), 12:00 (30 minutes)The matinee was described as a piano concert with Ivy Anderson singing
    • Monday July 20:
      10:40-1:30 Duke Ellington's Orchestra and Bill Donahue's Orchestra
    • Tuesday July 21:
      8:45 (15 minutes), (11:30 to 1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Wednesday July 22:
      8:00 (30 minutes), 1:00 (30 minutes) (11:30 to 1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Thursday July 23:
      9:00 (30 minutes), 1:00 (30 minutes) (11:30 to 1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Friday July 24:
      7:45 (15 minutes), 8:45 (15 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Saturday July 25:
      7:30 (30 minutes), 9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Sunday July 26:
      2:00 (30 minutes), 7:30 (30 minutes), 8:45 (30 minutes), 12:00 (30 minutes)The matinee was Duke Ellington and Ivy Anderson
    • Monday July 27:
      10:40-1:30 (Duke Ellington's Orchestra and Bill Donahue's Orchestra)
    • Tuesday July 25:
      8:45 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Wednesday July 29:
      8:00 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Thursday July 30:
      9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Friday July 31:
      7:45 (15 minutes), 8:45 (15 minutes), 12:00-1:00 Duke Ellington and Bill Donahue's Orchestras (also shown as 11:30-1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Saturday August 1:7:30 (30 minutes), 9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Sunday August 2:
      2:00 (30 minutes), 7:30 (30 minutes), 8:45 (30 minutes), 12:00 (30 minutes)The matinee was Duke Ellington and Ivy Anderson
    • Monday August 3:
      10:40-1:30 (Duke Ellington's Orchestra and Bill Donahue's Orchestra)
    • Tuesday August 4:
      9:00 (15 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Wednesday August 5:
      8:00 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Thursday August 6:
      9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30 to 1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Friday August 7:
      7:45 (15 minutes), 8:45 (15 minutes), 12:00-1:00 Duke Ellington and Bill Donahue's Orchestras (also shown as 11:30-1:30 Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Saturday August 8:
      7:30 (30 minutes), 9:00 (30 minutes), 11:30-1:30 (Bill Donahue's Drake Hotel Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Orchestra from Lincoln Tavern)
    • Sunday August 9:
      7:30 (30 minutes), 8:45 (30 minutes), 12:00 (30 minutes)
      Announcement: Earl Burtnett and his dance band, returning to the Lincoln tavern tomorrow, where they supplant Duke Ellington...
    • Monday August 10:
      Ellington is not mentioned; Burtnett and Donahue have the 10:40-1:30 time slot.
  • Ken Steiner:
    Cliff Mackay, Atlanta World:

    '...His debut at the exclusive Lincoln Tavern Roadhouse on the Gold Coast of the Illini Metropoll's for 4 week [sic] of the finet [sic[ music that resort has ever had. And through it all the same Duke. Never changing. Always working–for the original.
         ...Four weeks at the Lincoln Tavern...Watched the Duke work. His enthusiasm, his fore, his drive, all forged into those torrid tunes, which only he can dispense. When he comes off the stand, he's wringing wet all over from persperation. A shower, a change of clothing and he's ready for another go-round. His office hours at the Tavern put to shame the fourteen hours daily labor of a steel worker. The band was on the air every night on WGN at 7 p.m. and then intermittedly four times during the night. When Ellington's weary musicians were permitted to sign off it was usually after 5 o'clock in the morning. But they were weary in body only. Their music never grew that way. It always bore the scorching stamp of Ellington.
         After returning to the Hotel Trenier where Duke was making his headquarters, he would stay up until late in the day arranging and composing numbers that would help sell his organization. "I just can't sleep," he told Your Scribe on one occasion. "The music just keep [sic] running through my head." It was seldom that he slept four hours out of the twenty-four.
         Never will '

  • Steven Lasker:
    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-07-11:

      'You radio bugs who want to warm a tube, tune your sets to WGN at 720 kilocycles at 9 p.m. (central standard time) and catch Duke Ellington's band direct from the Lincoln tavern, West Chicago roadhouse, any night. The Duke began his engagement July 6 [sic] and will stay at the Chi stand until Aug 10 [sic].'

    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-07-18:

      'Duke Ellington's long stand at Jack Huff's Lincoln Tavern, Chicago, is drawing the femmes of his band members to the Windy City. Mrs. Minnie Guy, who lives at 381 Edgecombe Ave., New York, and is a member of the Cotton club revue, arrived in the city Monday to be with her husband, Fred Guy, a member of Ellington's combo. Mrs. Guy will work in the floor show at the tavern. '

    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-07-25, p. 5:

      'So swift is the competition between the Lincoln Tavern, who placed Duke Ellington Tuesday, and its neighbor, The Dells, that the latter has engaged none other than Ted Lewis' band to combat the Duke's onslaught. Ellington's band is staying in Evanston during their Tavern engagement.
           Irving Mills, Duke's personal representative, who was in the city on business relative to the date, has nothing to say regarding the Tavern booking, which was executed by NBC against his will. Mills wanted the Duke in at $5,000 per week but NBC sold him for $3,500. He confirmed the report that Cab Calloway leaves the Cotton Club on July 24 for a barnstorm and Publix tour, and said that Carol [sic] Dickerson and the new band, Mills' Blue Rhythm Boys, are to take the Cotton Club stand.'

    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-08-01:

      '[....]Duke's tremendous business at the Lincoln Tavern. Last Sunday, 1,100 persons paid the $3 cover to hear the "Duke of Wails," while the Dells, across the road with Benny Meroff, a white unit, registered a paltry 28. [....] The Duke stays at the Trenier Hotel in Chi, but makes his band remain in Evanston, four miles from their Lincoln Tavern stand on Dempster Road. The Duke made his piano debut over WHN Sunday at 2 p. m. with Walt Richardson and Ivy Anderson.'

    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-08-08:

      'How would you like to work from 7 p. m. to 4. a. m. without time off and including four half-hour periods of broadcast? That's the Duke's schedule at the Tavern. And that rhythm on the number, written since his tavern date "Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got that Swing," is a wow. It was introduced on the air for the first time Wednesday night.'

    • The Chicago Defender (nat. ed.), 1931-08-08:

      'Hittin' High Notes with Walter Barnes, Jr.

      In making our weekly rounds of Chicago night clubs and roadhouses we dropped three miles past Evanston on Dempster Rd. to get a glance at the master of futuristic jazz, Duke Ellington and his New York Cotton club orchestra who are nearing the end of an eight week's engagement there.

      Duke was just coming off the stand after a half hour broadcast over WGN. We were greeted with that world-wide famous personality smile that only the Duke emulates. A few minutes passed in professional conversation in which the situation of our members, employment, and ability came up. Somehow we got around to the popularity of Duke's numbers. Duke immediately became interested. The light of a true composer came into his eyes.

      "I've just written a new number," he began. "I want your band to run over it. I'll play it on our next broadcast if you want." He then began humming over stretches of what promises to be a bigger hit than his already famous 'Black and Tan Fantasy' and 'Mood Indigo,' two numbers which made the Royal Creolians [Barnes' band] the toast of night life at Ralph Capone's Cotton Club in Chicago last year. [Ralph was the oldest of the Capone brothers. The others: Al and Frank.]

      The title of his latest composition, written and arranged during intermissions at the Lincoln Tavern, is 'Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got the [sic] Swing.' Starting off with a low jungle rumble of basses [sic] and tympani drums the tune bursts into a veritable fanfare of razor-like brass. The Duke chooses to take a few bars which ends up with Trigger Sam's famous 'Oof-goof' trombone novelty. The saxophones join into the fun, the percussion is in full sway with rhythmic regularity, while the brass section falls into line with staccato accompaniment. It's a wow of a song and in our opinion is his best number yet. '

    • Metronome, August 1931 p.15:

      'Archie Schönemann, "What Chicago Orchestra Boys Are Doing,"

      Duke Ellington, whose past invasions in Chi have been confined to variety houses with an occasional play in the cinema palaces, will do four weeks at the Lincoln Tavern, succeeding Earl Burtnett and his Los Angeles Biltmore Orchestra. The LA band, after a short road trip, is scheduled to succeed Ellington. The Tavern is going in strong for name bands.'

    • Orchestra World, 1931-09-00, p. 17:

      'Lincoln Tavern featured Duke Ellington for four weeks during a road tour of Earl Burtnett, who booked back into the Tavern later. '

  • Stratemann citing
    • Variety 1931-07-11 p.52
  • Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, Ill.:
    • 1931-07-14 pp.18, 21
    • 1931-07-15 p.24
    • 1931-07-16 p.17
    • 1931-07-17 p.22
    • 1931-07-18 p.8
    • 1931-07-20 p.22
    • 1931-07-21 p.14
    • 1931-07-22 p.22
    • 1931-07-23 p.12
    • 1931-07-24 p.21
    • 1931-07-25 p.8
    • 1931-07-27 pp.17, 24
    • 1931-07-28 p.20
    • 1931-07-29 p.18
    • 1931-07-30 p.21
    • 1931-07-31 p.22
    • 1931-08-01 p.10
    • 1931-08-03 p.22
    • 1931-08-04 p.18
    • 1931-08-05 p.22
    • 1931-08-06 p.23
    • 1931-08-07 p.26
    • 1931-08-08 p.12
    • 1931-08-10 p.24
    • 1931-08-11 p.19
  • Chicago Sunday Tribune, Chicago, Ill.:
    • 1931-07-19 pt.7 p.4 N
    • 1931-07-26 pt.7 p.4 N
    • 1931-08-02 pt.7 p.4 N
    • 1931-08-09 pt.7 pp.4 N, 6 N
  • Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill. radio schedules
    • 1931-07-28 p.22
    • 1931-08-08 p.13
  • The Chicago Defender, National editions, Chicago, Ill., courtesy S.Lasker
    • 1931-07-25 p,5
    • 1931-08-01
    • 1931-08-08
  • Archie Schi??nemann:
    "What Chicago Orchestra Boys Are Doing,"
    Metronome, August 1931 p.15, courtesy S.Lasker
  • Atlanta World, Atlanta, Ga.
    1932-02-07 p.7 (courtesy K. Steiner)
  • Email Lasker/Palmquist:
    • 2020-11-27
    • 2020-11-28 with quotations as noted.
...Ken Steiner aug11; djpAdded
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2020-11-28
2020-12-01
2020-12-09
2021-09-10
1931 07 15
Wednesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 16
Thursday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 17
Friday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 18
Saturday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 19
Sunday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14

Network remotes:

Chicago Sunday Tribune:

'DUKE ELLINGTON'S ORCHESTRA
Harmonies that throb and
quiver, that shiver in mad
abandon, that break into
thousands of pieces–and
melt into a pulsating rain-
bow of color! That's Duke
Ellington's music. Saxo-
phones that sob and wail–
trumpets that laugh and
plead and weep - flutes [sic] that
cackle and whisper–music
that makes you sad-happy!
Just listen to that band
playing at the Lincoln Tav-
ern at

7:30 P.M. 8:45 P.M.
and MIDNIGHT


"Theatrical Celebrities" Party at
midnight with James Hall, movie
star, as master of ceremonies.

(Also a marvelous program
this afternoon with Duke
Ellington at the piano and
Ivy Anderson singing.)

2 to 2:30 P.M.

The Chicago Defender:

'The Duke made his piano debut over WGN Sunday at 2 p.m. with Walt Richardson and Ivy [sic] Anderson.'

  • Chicago Sunday Tribune, Chicago, Ill.
    1931-07-19 Pt.7 p.4N
  • The Chicago Defender, national edition, 1931-08-01
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1931 07 20
Monday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 21
Tuesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 22
Wednesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 23
Thursday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 24
Friday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 25
Saturday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 26
Sunday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 27
Monday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 28
Tuesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 29
Wednesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 30
Thursday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 07 31
Friday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement - see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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August 1931

1931 08 01
Saturday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 02
Sunday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 03
Monday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 04
Tuesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 05
Wednesday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 06
Thursday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 07
Friday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 08
Saturday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)
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1931 08 09
Sunday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernRoadhouse engagement -see 1931 07 14
-WGN broadcasts (details at 1931 07 14)

Lincoln Tavern closing announcement in Chicago Daily Tribune, August 9 1931
Lincoln Tavern closing announcement
Click to Enlarge
While this ad indicates Ellington's residency would end the next day, August 10, on the same page of the Chicago Sunday Tribune we see:

'Earl Burtnett and his dance band, returning to the Lincoln tavern tomorrow, where they supplant Duke Ellington, will be heard nightly from 12 to 12:30 and from 1 to 1:30...'

(emphasis added)
Chicago Sunday Tribune, Chicago, Ill.
1931-08-09 Pt.7, P.4N
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1931 08 10
Monday
.Morton Grove, Ill.Lincoln TavernClosing night of roadhouse engagement
-see 1931 07 14 and 1931 08 08

No apparent broadcast this day.

There is a possibility Earl Burtnett's orchestra replaced Ellington's orchestra at the Lincoln Tavern this day, with the activities of Ellington and his orchestra not being documented as yet. Ellington is not shown in the Chicago Daily Tribune Monday radio listings but Burtnett is, albeit without the location.
....djpAdded
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2020-12-09

Page designed by
David Palmquist
Delta, BC, Canada