Big Bands at the River

Image of Ozzie Nelson Image of Rio Nido-winking moonThere were Big Bands galore up at the Russian River back in the day.  The first was Art Hickman of the Ziegfeld Follies who played at the Palomar Dance Hall on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg in 1913.  But you had other venue choices including the beach ballroom at Mirabel (where Burke’s Canoes is presently), Rio Nido, the Grove in Guerneville, Guernewood Park and Monte Rio.  You could listen to the sweet sounds of Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Phil Harris, Buddy Rogers, Ted FioRito, Kay Kayser or perhaps Harry Owens and his Royal Hawaiians. The last musical group of this era to play in Rio Nido was Tex Benecke’s Glenn Miller Band in summer of ’53.  One of the more popular Big Bands was the Ozzie Nelson Orchestra. (more…)

Rio Nido & the Big Bands

Image of Rio Nido amphitheaterImage of Harry James recordImage of Harry James









Rio Nido and the Big Bands of the thirties had a beautiful relationship along the Russian River in west Sonoma County.  In a conversation with Claire Harris in 2007 while drafting my first novel, Memories That Linger, he shared with me his excitement as such greats as Harry James (upper right photo) visited the small hamlet.  After watching a preview of the band at the amphitheater (upper left photo), you could buy a ticket (75 cents on weekends, 50 cents on a weeknight, or $1.25 for the entire week) and go next door to the dance hall. (more…)