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June 14, 2007
SMALL TOWN LIFE
The night 'The Duke' played in Lovell
LOVELL, Wyoming (STPNS) -- A family puzzle was solved recently when local Chronicle readers responded to a May 24 letter to the editor from Greg Taggart, who wondered if anyone remembered when the legendary Duke Ellington big band played at the LDS Stake Center.
In his letter, Taggart, of Orem, Utah, the son of Hal Taggart and the nephew of Cal Taggart, said he recalled family stories about the time Duke Ellington played in Lovell many years ago, but unfortunately, he wrote, ?nobody I?ve talked to seems to know when.?
He said his Aunt Kay remembers being invited on stage behind the curtain to meet The Duke during intermission, recalling that she found him sitting at one of the old church upright pianos improvising an arrangement of the Mormon standard ?Come, Come Ye Saints.?
Taggart said he wanted to write the story of that night, but he needed help from anyone who could remember the concert, find a journal entry or produce a newspaper clipping.
Chronicle readers Shirley Doerr and Sylvia Crosby remembered the concert and came in to report their memories to the Chronicle office. Sure enough, the Chronicle files produced a story about the upcoming concert written on April 22, 1954.
The concert was staged on May 7 at 8:30 p.m. at the ?LDS Stake House? with a dance to follow at 10 p.m., and tickets were said to be available at Lovell Drug or from Mike Johnson in Byron. The concert was sponsored by the Byron Ward Building Committee. Tickets were $2.50 for reserve seats and $2 for general admission.
The April 22, 1954, story said that when Duke Ellington appears at the stake house for a concert and dance, ?music lovers will have a chance to hear one of the unusual orchestras of the nation.?
The article went on to trace Ellington?s career and noted his many hits including ?Mood Indigo,? ?It Don?t Mean a Thing if it Ain?t Got That Swing,? ?Sophisticated Lady,? ?Stormy Weather? and ?Caravan.? It noted that music critics at the time proclaimed the Ellington Orchestra as the ?greatest band ever assembled.?
?The better tickets are selling steadily, so if you want to see and hear this attraction, better get your tickets now,? the article read.
In his May 24 letter, Taggart urged readers to appreciate the magnitude of the event, noting that it would be like the Beatles playing in Lovell during the 1960s or the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing today.
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