Needham History Center & Museum

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Going Back to T Town – The Ernie Fields Territory Big Band

October 11, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

A book talk with author Carmen Fields.
at the Needham History Center, 1147 Central Avenue, Needham

Countless young people in the Midwest, South, and Southwest went to dances and stage shows in the early to mid-twentieth century to hear the territory bands play. Territory bands traveled from town to town, performing jazz and swing music, and Tulsa-based musician Ernie Fields (1904–97) led one of the best. In Going Back to T-Town, Ernie’s daughter, Carmen Fields, tells a story of success, disappointment, and perseverance, extending from the early jazz era to the 1960s. This is an enlightening account of how this talented musician and businessman navigated the hurdles of racial segregation during the Jim Crow era.

Because few territory bands made recordings, their contributions to the development of jazz music are often overlooked. Fortunately, Ernie Fields not only recorded music but also loved telling stories. He shared his “tales from the road” with his daughter, a well-known Boston journalist, and his son, Ernie Fields Jr., who has carried on his legacy as a successful musician and music contractor. As much as possible, Carmen Fields tells her father’s story in his own voice: how he weathered the ups and downs of the music industry and maintained his optimism even while he faced entrenched racial prejudice and threats of violence. ( description)

A native of Tulsa, OK, Carmen Fields listened to her father, Ernie Fields share stories of his days on the road traveling with his nationally famous orchestra. Carmen Fields is an award-winning former print and broadcast journalist in the Boston area. In addition to journalism, her career includes stints in corporate communication and no-profit media relations. A graduate of Lincoln University (MO) and Boston University, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Salem State College.

This program is free and open to everyone. Light refreshments will be served.

We thank our Program Sponsor, North Hill, for their support of our Program Calendar.


October 11, 2023
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Gloria Greis, Executive Director
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Needham History Center
1147 Central Ave
Needham, MA 02492 United States
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