Frank Kamplan and Al Bernard were well-known for the grossly-caricatured tunes that were so popular at the time. They repeatedly urge the train to take them back to 31st street. So where is the street, and why’s it so important? In the 20s, Chicago was a major center of musical and cultural development, especially for black entertainers. 31st street was in the center of the jazz district, on Chicago’s south side. It was known as “The Stroll”, or “Broadway of the Black Belt”
If it were not performed by noted genre performers, and the bit of exaggerated, stereotypical pronunciation, the song might not be considered “minstrel”. It seems to reveal respect for the burgeoning scene in Chicago.
This episode was written in part by Syracuse University student Alyssa Gabriele, part of the Sound Beat Class Partnership.