Crystal Beach Live: Buffalo & Toronto Entertainers & More (Crystal Beach Live) is
the second volume of the History of Crystal Beach series. It is a
chronicle of the live entertainment – musical and thrill show – that
entertained and thrilled park visitors during its 100 seasons.
The first half of the volume focuses on the non-musical entertainment –
the aerialists, stunt pilots, acrobats, daredevils, athletes,
celebrities, fashion shows, beauty pageants, animal acts, and many other
"shows" – that awed Crystal Beach audiences from as early as 1891
through the mid 1950s. It is a forgotten aspect of Crystal Park history
but was an integral part of the amusement offerings that made Crystal
Beach the summer entertainment capital of Western New York and Ontario’s
Included are the details of the "Canadian-American Dance Marathon" that
was the only such event held at Crystal Beach and the only known
marathon staged in part on land and water and in two countries and
witnessed by thousands.
The Crystal Beach appearance by some of the stunt artists was their last.
Musical entertainment is the focus of the second half of the volume.
Unlike the nostalgic accounts of Crystal Beach that only scratch the
surface of the musical entertainment at the park with a brief mention of
a few of the famous big bands, Crystal Beach Live delves into an
entire century of music that attracted untold millions to the resort.
The artists that performed at Crystal Beach represent the popular sounds
of their eras that range from the brass bands of the late 1890s to new
wave rock of the 1980s. Musical entertainers span the genres of:
- Brass Bands (1890s-1910s)
Big Bands and Rock-n-Roll (1940s-1950s)
Polka Bands (1950s-1960s)
Rock Groups and the return of the Big Bands during the 1980s.
other amusement resorts of the 20th Century, Crystal Beach captured the
sounds of local and regional bands from Western New York and Southern
Ontario. The home bases for these bands included Buffalo, and Toronto
and cities in between. Many of these bands and orchestras were the house
bands at Crystal Beach that provided music daily and clocked more hours
of playtime in one season than a century of all of the one-night-stand
headliners combined. Compiled for the first time ever are the histories
of these local and regional bands that makes Crystal Beach Live a
chronicle of a mere fraction of the vast musical heritage of Western
New York, the Niagara Peninsula, and the Toronto area, that has mostly
Coverage of the local bands includes the Harold Austin and his Orchestra
of Buffalo. Until the publication of this volume, there was very little
recorded history of this long-time Buffalo bandleader and his band. Crystal Beach Live
Benny Louis and his Orchestra was another in-demand orchestra
from Toronto. His life and career were limited to brief, semi-accurate
one-page synopses in Canadian Music historical publications. For the
first time, there is an authorized biography of Benny Louis, his life
and his Orchestra presented in Crystal Beach Live thanks to the assistance of Benny’s family.
Crystal Beach Live profiles 35 local and regional bands. It
includes mini bios of an additional 50 “national/international” bands
that performed at Crystal Beach ranging from the obscure and forgotten
to those of international renown.
Crystal Beach Live not only underscores the prominence Crystal
Beach once held as a summer entertainment capital on the Niagara
Frontier it also spotlights its significance in the entertainment
industry as a “must stop" by touring bands, orchestras, and
“thrill-show” style entertainers. It is also a glimpse into the rich
entertainment heritage of Western New York and Southern Ontario.
This second volume of Crystal Beach history features:
- Over 400 photographs and images from museum archives and private collections.
- Over 30 thrill show and non-musical acts, ten originating from Buffalo and Toronto.
- Twenty Buffalo area bands and orchestras.
- Biographies of over 20 bands and orchestras from Toronto and the surrounding region.
- Coverage of three Miss New York State pageants held at Crystal Beach.
- Artie Shaw’s infamous 1939 appearance.
- Mini profiles of once famous national and
international bands and orchestras that played at Crystal Beach and
have slipped into obscurity.
232 8.5"x 11" pages, soft cover, professionally printed on premium, heavy bond, gloss paper.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009908526