1940s music was based on the big band sound, swing and jazz. Tony was active in the music biz, however, he never became a celebrated name, employed in large part as a sideman playing supportive roles in orchestras and small combo ensembles at a variety of night clubs, dance halls and hotels. To get educated in the various venues in Chicago, I suggest this comprehensive book by Charles A. Senstock, That Toddlin’ Town: Chicago’s White Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1900-1950. “He looks at the history of the white dance bands, theater orchestras, radio studio ensembles and night club bands… He has written extensively on Chicago music and other history.”
Press photo above dedicated to daughters; “Antoinette and Paulette, love Daddy“. Third daughter, Florette and author of this blog wasn’t’ born yet.
Tony applied for his social security card in 1937, soon after it was signed in to law. He noted his employer at the time as the Casino Parisien at the Hotel Morrison in Chicago. Two years later his mother Pauline who he was very close to died of heart failure at age 42. His father, Antonio died a year later at age 49. Cause of his death? The story given was that he died in a car accident where he was crushed by the steering wheel. It wasn’t until the author located his death record that noted the true cause of death; Pulmonary Tuberculosis due to Syphilitc Meningo Encephalits and place of death, Chicago State Hospital. Young Tony was an only child and wasn’t close to his Italian cousins who eventually moved to California. His best pal was his German cousin, Paul Massoth who must have been a comfort to him as well as a fan of his music.
Partial list of Tony’s gigs in the 30s and 40s below. Some of the clubs were fronts for prostitution and vice protected by organized crime, pretty typical of Chicago known for corruption back in the day. Most of the venues were in the Loop. Chicago’s upscale hotels housed nightclubs that featured ballroom dancing, big bands and floor shows.
1936: Trevor Tavern, Trevor, Wisconsin
1937: Casino Parisien event at Hotel Morrison at 15-29 Clark Street, Chicago, IL
1938: 885 Club at 885 Rush St. Chicago, IL
1938/39: CBS Broadcasting – Live radio broadcast
1939: 606 Club at 606 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL
1939: Silver Frolics at 400 N. Wabash.,Chicago, IL
1939: Congress Hotel at 500 S. Michigan Ave.,Chicago, IL
1940: Chez Paree Key Club at 150 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL -The Chez Paree was a nightclub at 610 N. Fairbanks Court known for its glamorous atmosphere, elaborate dance numbers, and top entertainers. It operated from 1932 until 1960. The Key Club was in a back room (different door and address) where illegal gambling went on – high stake dice and card games.
1940: Around Town Club at 2131 S. Cicero Ave. Cicero, IL
1940: Medinah Club of Chicago at 505 Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL
1940: University Club of Milwaukee at 924 E. Wells, Milwaukee, WI
1941: Broadmoor Hotel at 1 Lake Ave. Colorado Springs, CO
Photo below: Tony and Lucy got married in Colorado while Tony was on a tour date with the Jimmy Blade Orchestra at the Broadmoor Hotel. L. to R. Jimmy Blade (pianist), Lucille Camarata, Tony Camarata, Mrs.Jean Kennelly Blade (one of the “Adorable Dancers” from Chez Paree, Chicago).
1941/42/43: Ambassador East at 1301 State St. Chicago, IL –The Pump Room opened in 1938 and is now the Public Chicago Hotel, owned by Ian Schrager.
1941/42 The Drake Hotel at 140 E. Walton St. Chicago, IL – Jimmy Blade Orchestra.
1942: Cazel Koch Tavern in Chicago, IL
1942: The Blackstone at 636 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL
1942: Ivanhoe Gardens at 3000 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL
1943: Riviera Cocktail Lounge at 40 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL
1943: Hotel Chicagoan at 67 W. Madison St. Chicago, IL
1943: Paddock Club at 2927 N. Broadway St. Chicago, IL
1943: The Whirlaway at 1701 Ogden Ave. Chicago, IL
1943/45 Rupneck’s Restaurant at 1127 Thorndale Ave. Chicago, IL
1943: Preview Lounge at 7 w. Randolph St. Chicago, IL – Newspaper Review on earlier post; Will Alexander Orchestra. Will on bass. Jack Chapman, piano, Lyle Sisk, trumpet, Tony Camarata, accordion and June Price, vocals.
1943: Helsings Vandvil Restaurant at 4361 N. Sheridan Chicago, IL
1943: Elbow Room at 3777 Broadway Chicago, IL
1943: The Dome at 507 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN
1944: Rio Cabana at 400 N. Wabash Chicago, IL
1944: Penguin Inn at 178 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL
1944: Minuet Restaurant at 943 Rush St. Chicago, IL
1944: Wilpolts Tavern at 5605 22nd Ave. Kenosha, WI
1944/45: Vine Gardens 614 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL
1945: Ron-Da-Voo Tavern at 106 State St. Calumet City, IL
1945: The Capital Lounge at 167 N. State St. Chicago, IL
1946: Brown Derby Theatre Café at 104 S. Wabash Chicago
1946: The Tropics at Hotel Chicagoan 67 W. Madison,Chicago. Tony plays with Sam Bari and his Men of Rhythm.
1946: Meyers Inn at 52 S. Seventh St. Minneapolis, MN
1946: Thomas F. Aliota Restaurant in Kenosha, WI
1947: Drum Cocktail Lounge at 114 N. Dearborn St. Chicago, IL
1947: Panda Club 2521 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL
1947/49: Club Lucky at 1824 Wabansia Chicago, IL – once served as a speakeasy during prohibition with a hardware store as a front.
1947: Silver Spur Club at 4839 N. 79th Phoenix, AZ
1948: Marie’s Cocktail Lounge at 5707 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL
1948: Club Moderne at 5950 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL
1948: James Restaurant at 1035 Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL
Next post will feature more of Tony Camarata’s gigs, 1950s.