Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Scranton Sirens

Andrew Sordoni called up today; for the vast majority of you, he’s unknown. But around here in Northeastern PA, as well as in New York City, he is the head of a respected construction company, is a member of several boards, and a jazz enthusiast. The latter is a big deal in his life and his next project is producing a program for our local PBS station.

It’s about “The Scranton Sirens.” Who? What? When?

Current bandleader Jack Morgan, son of equally famous Russ Morgan, said: "There was an old, kind of a dixieland band, called the Scranton Sirens. At one time or another, I think, almost everybody of that era who later became a bandleader himself, had gone through and worked with the Scranton Sirens. Both Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, I believe Bix Beiderbecke, you could go on forever. It was a fantastic band, and when one guy would leave... Tommy Dorsey, I think was first, Tommy Dorsey left and dad came in, so there was just star after star... stars-to-be, you know.”

Someone named “Kim W.” on this Blogger site wrote: "Billy [Lustig, founder] was already something of a showman himself – he sometimes amused children in the audiences with an unconventional bowing method; he would hold the bow to his violin between his knees, grasping one end of the violin in each hand, and sawing the violin back and forth across the bow. Apparently he was able to successfully play 'Yankee Doodle' in this way."


Anonymous John Swetye said...

My grandfather, Joseph Swetye, Sr., supposedly played with the Scranton Sirens and Dorsey Brothers sometime in the 1920s. I believe they played the Poconos quite a bit. My grandfather died around 1960 when I was only 1 year old and I can only recall a few stories about him. Not sure what instrument he played with the band, but from what I have been told he was an outstanding clarinetist. He moved to eastern Ohio, near Youngstown, and started a family sometime in the 20s. He played music in local dance bands and was an accomplished artist working mainly with oil paint.

Would love to find photographs of him from this era.

John Swetye

April 07, 2009 1:41 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


This must be the Joseph Swetye that had the pottery on the Depot Rd. in Salem. I went to grade school with a Lawrence Swetye who I think I found died in Dayton but was a potter. Can you tell me anything about the pottery? I remember the concrete block building but haven't been back to Salem for years.

Jim Murphy

February 15, 2010 9:01 PM  

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