BOHP_2005-05-19_AVega Chapter 4
FB: You guys had a pretty thriving time of it working the beach ballrooms up and down the coast. AV: In those days -- I'm talking ‘38 and ‘39 -- we were still in high school. Every beach had a ballroom. Revere had a couple of Spanish gables. Wells Beach would have the Wells Beach Casino, Ogunquit Casino [both] in Maine. Then the South Shore had its stuff and Sun Valley, the movie Glenn Miller was based on that. And Sun Valley was on Route 9. So there was gigs. Sly Schimmel was at [union] local, he'd call up and say, “Al, we need a band, Basie's bus broke down; he won't be able to get here for the gig tomorrow.” So I'd call up all the guys and we were all loyal to the band, even if we had a little joint job, we'd send subs in and play with the big band. FB: And you were playing for dancers? AV: Yeah, this was all dance music, yeah. The Roseland Ballroom was on Mass Ave over here, down across from the Christian Science [Center], the block before Symphony Hall. FB: But the arrangements were such that you could loosen up a bit and take solos? AV: Oh yeah, they were Basie arrangements, this was all swing stuff, you know. They were Basie arrangements and later on Glenn Miller arrangements. They were little stock arrangements, later on they had the full page, more scrip style. So we were doing all the covers of all the big band things. That was a lot of fun. So we were doing that real hard. Then I graduated high school and I was going to Northeastern, I was going to be an engineer. So we kept doing that. Then I get drafted in ‘42, I was at Fort Devens for awhile. I remember the audition was to play “One O'Clock Jump,” which you know I started playing and it took about ten chords and the guy said, “Enough already, you're all set, you can go right to Boston base.” So I stayed there for a few months and I kept playing with the band. But then I get on the train and we kept riding all night and I says, “It's taking a long time to get to Boston Harbor” and I ended up in Virginia! And then a couple guys started getting drafted and that was the end of the band.