Bert Burns established a dance orchestra, The Jubilee Four, probably sometime in 1918 or 1919 in Winnipeg. It's not clear exactly when the group was first formed or how long it lasted but Bert was the founder and pianist. The band performed at parties organized by the Owl Club and at a variety of other venues in the early 1920s. The group’s business card included the statement "Prices Arranged" so it was intended that they be paid for playing.
Bert's tastes in popular music in those days included Zez Confrey, Roy Bargy and other ragtime or early jazz pianists whose compositions were issued as sheet music. Like many young people in those days before the age of radio, Bert was an enthusiastic collector of sheet music. At this time he did not even own a gramophone but his buddies likely did.
Bert's address book for 1921 lists several musicians who may have been performers in the band on various gigs. They included Pete Couture, violin, Stewart Holly, saxophone, Phil Thomas, cornet and banjo, and two drummers, H. Morrison and Jimmy Farquer. The group's schedule for the first three months of 1921 included appearances at the Strollers' Club Party, Tuxedo Hospital, the Owl Club, Morrow Hall, Travellers' Hall, the Cabbage Patch, and at the Sir Isaac Brock and Linwood Schools. They also played at St. Jean Baptiste, just south of Winnipeg, an engagement that Pete and his brother Emile Couture were probably instrumental in securing.
The appointment book contains notes for songs and stage patter that Bert wrote down for the group to use. Some examples:
"We'll fill your hearts with glee
With song, duet and chorus too
We'll do our best for you
We hope you'll like our little show
There's music fast and music slow At any rate, when we are through We trust you'll not be feeling blue."
And a Closer:
"We hope you've liked our little show We've done our best to make it go
We're closing now to have a dance We hope you'll take a chance. There's lots of little girlies here Who dance and jazz with cheer.
So hustle up a look around Until a partner you have found."
The group’s business card, 1920
Albert Daniel Burns appointment book, including numerous entries and 16 business cards for The Jubilee Four. Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1921.
Articles on Zez Confrey and Roy Bargy on the free encyclopedia Wikipedia: http:// en.wikipedia.org.
Compiled by Barrie Burns Kanata, Ontario