Back Woods Jazz in the Twenties
by Peg Meyer
Mr. Meyer recounts his early years a jazz musician, directing and playing in a jazz band immediately after World War I, before Americans knew of Benny Goodman, Lois Armstrong, or Duke Ellington. From impromptu lunch- time sessions in a Cape Girardeau high school gymnasium, a group of school pals, dubbed the 'Agony Four,' evolved into the 'Melody Kings,' playing regular dance dates throughout the region. As the organizer and leader of the first jazz band in the area Meyer significantly contributed to the introduction of a new cultural era in the backwoods of southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. His writings provide insight and understanding of early jazz and the region of southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.