Jesse Cloninger and the Festival big band welome a parade of Shedd vocalists for a 2-set re-creation of choice moments from G. I. Jive
and Command Performance
, two of the Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) radio programs designed for the entertainment
Dick Tracy In B flat
is one of 7 OFAM 2023 concerts presented twice:
Evening: Sat, Aug 5, 7:30 pm
Matinée: Fri, Aug 11, 1:30 pm
and support of American soldiers throughout the world. The evening will include songs, jokes, and “requests from the field” skits from each program, with a full recreation of the special February 15, 1945 episode of the Command Performance
radio drama Dick Tracey in B flat
, or "For goodness sakes isn’t he ever going to marry Tess Trueheart?”
G. I. Jive was a 6-day per week 15 minute jukebox-style jazz program that played 4 to 5 popular songs and instrumentals in response to servicemen requests. The program soared in popularity when Martha Wilkerson, a breezy blonde with a girl-next-door voice, took over hosting in late 1943 using the handle “G. I. Jill”. Wilkerson opened each show with some variation of “Hiya fellas! This is Jill again inviting you to join me at the jukebox for another session of G.I. Jive!”
The 30-minute weekly program Command Performance followed much the same format, filling service men's requests for one or another song, or a skit featuring Hollywood personalities. On February 15, 1945 Command Performance featured a radio theatre special created by the show's music director Meridith Willson: Dick Tracy In B Flat. Willson (who would later create the legendary musical The Music Man) filled Dick Tracy In B flat with a wonderful assortment of song parodies old and new, all sung by a renowned assortment of actors, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, The Andrew Sisters, Jimmy Durante, Cass Daley, Frank Morgan and Harry Von Zell.
Founded in early 1942 as a quasi-governmental organization within the Army’s Special Service Division, the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) was responsible for boosting the morale of servicemen through a variety of radio programs offering the types of news and entertainment they were used to back home. These programs were produced in Los Angeles because of its proximity to the entertainment industry and were distributed weekly in the form of transcription discs to cooperating overseas radio stations (most notably the BBC) and the Army’s own network of 800-odd shortwave radio stations associated with the Armed Forces’ theatres of operation throughout the world. Although not heard in the States, AFRS programs were very similar to home front commercial programs with the added special focus on servicemen themselves. Many of the programs, like G. I. Jive, Command Performance, and Mail Call encouraged servicemen to write in with requests and were called out and even bantered with “on the air”.
G. I. Jive was a 6-day per week 15 minute jukebox-style jazz program that played 4 to 5 popular songs and instrumentals in response to servicemen requests. Initially run by a rotating series of disc jockeys, G. I. Jive soared in popularity when Martha Wilkerson, a breezy blonde with a girl-next-door voice, took over hosting in late 1943 using the handle “G. I. Jill”. Wilkerson opened each show with some variation of “Hiya fellas! This is Jill again inviting you to join me at the jukebox for another session of G.I. Jive!”, filled 15 minutes with notably knowledgeable comments on the music and playful banter with her fans on all sorts of subjects, and ended, very fetchingly, with "Good morning to some of you, good afternoon to some more of you, and to the rest of you…good night."
Among the most popular of the 70-odd programs that the AFRS distributed each week to its 800 armed forces broadcast facilities worldwide were 3 variety shows: Command Performance, Mail Call, and Jubilee. Recorded to transcription discs from performances presented to live audiences in Los Angeles, these 30 minute shows featured a constantly-rotating parade of stars serving both as emcee and guest artists, including many regulars like Bob Hope (the few times he wasn’t on tour with his USO unit), Kate Smith, Bing Crosby, and Judy Garland, and just about any entertainer who could be pulled in quickly from their studio work in order to fill a request for a song or just about anything else that reminded the soldiers of life back home or gave them a great laugh: the sound of Lana Turner cooking up a porter house steak, Ann Miller tap dancing in army boots, a sigh from Carol Landis, Bing Crosby mixing a bourbon and soda for Bob Hope. Filled with easy banter, plenty of vaudeville comedy, great songs by top artists, fun responses to requests, and plenty of calls outs and words of encouragement to servicemen in the field, these programs did much to boost morale.
|SET I G. I. Jive with G. I. Jill|
|SET II "Dick Tracey in B flat"|