In September 1943, Artie Shaw and his US Navy Band 501 toured Australia after several months of performing for allied troops throughout the South Pacific theatre of war. At the time, Artie Shaw was one of the most recognisable and commercially successful pop stars in the world. With multiple dates across Queensland, including concerts in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, and Mackay, the performances drew crowds that reflected his global popularity and recording success. More than 3,000 people attended the first concert in Queensland at Brisbane City Hall, while almost 10,000 troops and local residents were at Parramatta Park in Cairns to see one of the greatest icons of the swing era perform the songs that defined a generation. Through extensive research of newspaper articles, diaries, and other primary resources, as well as acquiring original manuscripts from the Artie Shaw Collection at Arizona State University, the Rhythm Society Dance Orchestra has recreated this historic tour, which had its premiere performance to a sell-out audience at the Brisbane Jazz Club on Saturday, 14 October 2017. The production also features a small troupe of swing dancers, highlighting the connection between swing era music, and partnered dancing. The dance component includes both choreographed routines, and social partnered dancing.

Venue Format
Theatre, Hall
Technical Rating
Touring Party
Musicians (14); Dancers (4) - These numbers may vary depending on the number of musicians that can be sourced from the local community.

There are no specific technical, or other requirements, connected to this particular. The performance has already been developed, and performed at the Brisbane Jazz Club, and is ready and available for immediate tour.

The Rhythm Society Dance Orchestra performs vintage charts and arrangements from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, accurately recreating classic compositions from the “Jazz Age”. The Orchestra is committed to the preservation of culturally, historically or aesthetically significant recordings, including the music of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Joe Oliver, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller. Increasingly, the Orchestra is involved in the development of cultural productions that investigate, celebrate and preserve the performance of hot jazz and dance music across Queensland in the 1930s and 40s.

Company Website

Unique Selling Point

The tour by Artie Shaw, and his US Navy Band 501 is a significant musical event in the history of Australian art and culture, and for many, the most important tour by a musical act of the country until the arrival of The Beatles in 1964. Largely forgotten in the musical and cultural memory of Queensland, recreating this tour has the capacity to reinvigorate interest, knowledge and appreciation for this important episode in Queensland music, giving specific reference to the importance it had in regional communities, and the homefront, during World War 2.

Marketing Materials

The Rhythm Society Dance Orchestra will produce a variety of marketing collateral to support the production including marketing copy, social media, images, and posters. Rhythm Sciety Music will also produce educational resources, including sheet music of songs performed by Artie Shaw while on tour in Australia, to be provided without charge to high school and musical programs within each region where the concert is performed.

Community Engagement

Given the historical focus of this particular production, the Rhythm Society Dance Orchestra proposes to undertake high school and community workshops as part of this particular program. The workshops will focus on the performing of vintage big band swing music, and the music performed by Artie Shaw, and his US Navy Band 501, during its tour of Queensland in 1943. In addition to technical musical direction, it will also connect with the significance of swing music, the pop music of the day, and youth culture in Australia during the 1930s and 40s. For students and community members not involved in musical programs, members of the touring dance troupe will conduct an introductory swing dance class, introducing members of the community to the partnered dance form of the 1930s and 40s, and the role of social dancing in the cultural life of communities during this time period and World War 2 in particular. In addition to working with high school, and community musical directors in the region, working musicians from the community will also be sourced and invited to perform within the Rhythm Society Dance Orhcestra at any scheduled concerts.