"On and Off the Bandstand" is a study of American history, invention, and culture that focuses on the evolution of popular music. Efforts to keep the best of the bandstand alive in the twentieth century, as well as today, are enthusiastically celebrated.
Before reliable lighting and central heating, entertainment mainly occurred outdoors. Without microphones, a band performance was the centerpiece of choice for numerous celebrations. Outstanding conductors and musicians were major celebrities in their day. The basic instrumentation and musical language remained the same for over a hundred years-even as the venues moved indoors. Without breaks in continuity, each phase moved smoothly to the next, and newer artists respected their forbearers and cherished their accomplishments. Marching bands, concert bands, ragtime bands, and swing bands are still here today, but they have retired to the background.
The band era was accompanied by some remarkable innovations, such as sound recording and radio. These technologies played a crucial role and receive considerable attention as the story unfolds. In addition to its historical contributions, "On and Off the Bandstand" pays tribute to a handful of dedicated individuals who have become advocates for the music of their parents' and grandparents' time.