Red Perkins & His Dixie Ramblers was one of the so-called territory bands of the '20s and '30s, big bands that basically toured around a particular region, in this case Nebraska and neighboring states. The band grew out of a sextet that Perkins formed in his home town of Omaha around 1925 called the Cowboy Ramblers. From the beginning, his groups were able to sound much larger than they really were due to the versatile players he hired, hot shots who specialized in playing more than one instrument. In 1932, Perkins teamed up with harmonica player O.P. Alexander and others to perform on the radio station WFAA, a gig that lasted the next two years. He also worked with Percy Walker in Iowa in the mid-'30s. Perkins made his first recordings in 1934, leading to an opportunity to record for the RCA Victor label in 1936. The group was said to have cut more than 250 sides by the time they called it quits. At one time or another, the band had such sidemen as Bill and younger brother John Boyd; Cecil Brower, an alumni of the Milton Brown band; Jesse Ashlock; and Fred Calhoun. At one point, several members of the popular Light Crust Doughboys leaped out of the baking pan to join Perkins, namely Milton Montgomery and Kenneth Pitts. The band was booked for more than 20 years in theaters, ballrooms, and hotels throughout Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and the Dakotas. The band also cut sides for Gennett. But the mid-'40s were a tough period for Perkins, who sadly watched the big band scene slowly crumble. He retired to Minneapolis and became a professional photographer.
Share this page