1930s R&B vocal groupThe Cats and the Fiddle was one of the premier R&B vocal & small combo groups of the 1930s, who followed on the heels of the success of the popular Mills Brothers. In contrast to the smooth, flowing sound of the Mills Brothers, the Cats and the Fiddle pioneered a much more rhythmic and percussive style and which featured lyrics with hip lingo and popular slang. The band formed in 1937 as a 4-man amalgam of two earlier groups. The original line-up featured lead vocalist Austin Powell of the Harlem Harmony Hounds combined with Jimmie Henderson, Chuck Barksdale and Ernie price of another Chicago-based group. The band’s name referred to it’s musicians who were hep “cats”, and the stand-up bass — the fiddle — that anchored many of their arrangements, along with guitar and an actual fiddle. The band made guest appearances in the movies “Too Hot to Handle” (1938) and “Going Places” (1939).

Check out this album, a steal deal at $8.99 for all the great music you get (44 tracks, most danceworthy!):

Listen to just a few tracks, and you’ll realize that most songs have a common musical structure, chord progressions, and rhythmic attack. Learn the breaks for just one song, and you’ll be well on your way to anticipating and dancing to the breaks in other songs. The jovial, uptempo & bouncy style of the music makes it great for charleston moves and fast lindy…and it always makes me want to jump around and put more “hop” in my lindy hop.

Here are my selections of danceable tunes:
  1. Thursday Evening Swing
  2. That’s On Jack, That’s On
  3. Public Jitterbug Number One
  4. Gone
  5. Gangbusters
  6. Mr. Rhythm Man
  7. One is Never to Old to Swing
  8. Nuts to You
  9. Killing Jive
  10. Swing the Scales
  11. Hep Cats Holiday
  12. The New Look Blues
  13. Stomp Stomp
  14. Blue Skies
  15. When I Grow To Old Dream
  16. I’m Singing, So Help Me
  17. We Cats Will Swing for You

And a dance routine by Manu Smith, Nathan and Michael Terkowski performed to “Stomp Stomp” at the 9:20 Special:

The Cats and the Fiddle