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Wade Law and His Smokey Valley Boys Orchestra* Savanna

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Savanna Drummer/Band Leader played with several Savanna bands from 1935 to shortly before he passed away in June 1955 at age 39.

Smokey Valley Boys: Playing your favorite old time western and modern dance music; Also circles and square dance music.   Updated March 24, 2007.

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Wade Vernon Law circa 1934 age 19

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Rehearsal at Wade Law's house, 1917 Ontario Avenue, Savanna, Illiinois, left to right,Louis Reusch, Ralph Bailey,Wade Law, Everett (Shorty) Eveland,Bob Mitchell, Unknown?  circa 1948

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Smokey Valley Boys Orchestra, left to right, Gene McLaine, Ralph Bailey, Louie Reusch, Wade Law, John Smolek and Bill Ritchie, circa 1949

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Mrs. Wade Vernon Law and Mrs. Everett Eveland

Orchestra wives were Smokey Valley Girls, Mrs. Wade (Viola) Law and Mrs Everett (Shorty) Eveland.

Trip to Chicago to purchase new drum set for Wade
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Smokey Valley Boys business envelope, courtesy Jim Bailey, son of Ralph Bailey

Orchestra wives were Smokey Valley Girls, Mrs. Wade (Viola) Law and Mrs Everett (Shorty) Eveland.

KROS AM1340, Clinton, Iowa in 2002/ Sundays: "Big Band Show" 1:05PM - 3:00PM, "All That Jazz" 11:05PM - Midnight

Wade Law's Smokey Valley Boys Orchestra broadcast over AM radio on KROS1340 Clinton, Iowa on Sundays between 1946 and 1950. Listen to Louis Reusch and His Band recordings below.  Louis Reusch was the lead vocalist of Wade Law and His Smokey Boys Orchestra.  These sounds although not exactly those of the larger Smokey Boys Orchestra do give us some idea of how the orchestra sounded.

Sidemen during this period included Guitarist/Vocalist Louis Reusch; Bass Fiddler Ralph Bailey; Trumpeter Everett "Shorty" Eveland; Saxophonist/Clarinetist Bob Mitchell; Trumpeter Gene McLain; Bass Fiddler Ralph BaileyGuitarist; Accordianist John Smolek, Jr.; Clarinetist Bill Ritchie. Trumpeter Jake Neusam;  Bass Fiddler Frank Espisito; Saxophonist/Clarinetist Marv Schreiner; Saxophonist Wayne Perkins; Clarinetist Anita Peschang; Winfred  
The Smokey Valley Boys name was derived from the fact that the air is often smokey at the end of Ontario Avenue where Wade Law lived near the marsh north of the Milwaukee Road tracks.  In 1999, Saxophonist and retired KROS 1340 station employee, Wayne Perkins recalled playing with Wade Law as early 1939.

There were Hank Snow, Hank Thompson, and Hank Williams and Gene Autry. And there was Louie Reusch, the lead singer and guitarist of the Smokey Valley Boys Orchestra of Savanna, Illinois.

If you listened to KROS AM1340 Clinton, Iowa on Sundays from 2:00-2:30 PM between 1946 and 1952, then you should remember this voice. These recordings are of Louis Reusch and Band recorded in 1969 by Gene Wright, a historian and loved teacher at Lincoln School in Savanna, Illinois from the 1960's to the 1990's. Provided by Louis Reusch's youngest son Brian.

Below listen to 1969 Louis Reusch Band clips:
Clip 1: "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry"
Clip 2: "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry"
Clip 3: "Honky Tonk Women"
Clip 4: "Honky Tonk Women"
Clip 5: "The Kentucky Waltz"
Clip 6: "The Kentucky Waltz"
Clip 7: "The Kentucky Waltz"
Clip 8: "Cause The Shoe Goes On The Other Foot Tonight"
Clip 9: "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place"
Clip 10:"Somebody Else Is Taking My Place"
Clip 11:"Somebody Else Is Taking My Place"

If you don't see the link to each clip, scroll your pointer over the left-side area between here and the next text. You should be able to select and play each clip without seeing the link. This is a Tripod programming problem. Also, you will need to open these .wav files in MS Media Player, Real JukeBox Player or another audio player you have on your computer. Enjoy!

Smokey Valley Boys, Savanna, Illinois U.S.A. 1946-1952

The Smokey Valley Boys were a regional dance band that played a variety of western swing, square, circle, polka, waltz, and modern dance music from the early 1900's to the early 1950's.
Some songs that my father, Gary Law and Great Aunt
Frances (Ralph) Bailey remember the Smokey Valley Boys
playing were:

Sweet Sue; Dark Town Strutters' Ball; On
Top of Old Smokey; Missouri Waltz; Beer Barrel
Polka; The Waltz You Saved For Me; Tennessee
Waltz; You Are My Sunshine; Send Me The
Pillow That You Dream On; Ain't Got A Barrel
of Money; Side By Side; My Old Kentucky Home;
Yes Sir That's My Baby; Good Nite Irene; Your
Cheating Heart; Cold Cold Heart; Help Me, I'm
Falling In Love With You; Calija.

Saxophonist Marv Schreiner stated in 1997 that band leader Wade Law's favorite song was "My Dear," which was big band leader Jan Garber's theme song. Marvin possessed Wade Law's sheet music of "My Dear" for 40 years after Wade died in 1955 at age 39. In about 1996, Marv gave the (Jan Garber) sheet music with Wade's notations and signature to Wade Law's son Harland Law who then gave it to the Steve Steven's Orchestra Project in 1998.

Louis Reusch started his band when Wade Law disbanded the Smokey Valley Boys in about 1952. The Louis Reusch band sound is about as close as we could get to identifying the Smokey Valley Boys unless we discover two master recordings that were
made at Savanna Township High School between sometime between 1946 and 1950.
My grandfather, Wade Law, who played drums for the young Steven's Orchestra, played with a number of musicians beginning in the early 1930's. Soon I hope to add a 1934 photo of Wade Law playing an acoustic guitar. It was at a house dance at Ralph & Frances Bailey's that Wade met my grandmother, Viola, Ralph Baileys young sister, early in 1935.

During the 1940's until about 1952, Wade Law's Smokey Valley Boys, like many small town orchestras, played a 30 minute program on Sundays including bits of scripted comedy on KROS 1340, Clinton, Iowa. Wade scripted his own program each week. Unfortunately, we believe Wade's band was not paid for live radio broadcasts at KROS 1340 which made it difficult at times for Wade to pull the band together for these broadcasts. Wayne Perkins a saxophonist and an employee of KROS 1340 during the 1940's stated that he believes he played in one Wade Law's bands as early as 1939.

The Smokey Valley Boys lead singer and guitarist was Louis Reusch. According to Saxophonist/Clarinetist Bob Mitchell of Savanna, in 1946, Wade Law and he drove to a farm near Massbach, IL to find and hire Louis Reusch. Bob Mitchell remembered that at first Louis was shy about playing with the Smokey Valley Boys live on KROS 1340 in Clinton, Iowa.

On December 28, 2000, Blendon Law (Blendonaires) recalled that Wade Law hired Louis Reusch away from The Glen Law Orchestra which caused a little stir between the two cousins in those days. Louis Reusch died in 1974. Today, Louis youngest son Brian Reusch is traffic manager for WCCI FM 100.3, Savanna.

In 1997, Accordian player John Smolek, Jr., recalled that when Wade Law, Louie Reusch, Ralph Bailey and two other Smokey Valley Boys agreed to play
live on KROS 1340 radio, Clinton, John decided playing live on the radio wasn't for him. As a result, the Smokey Valley Boys had at a few accordian players. Recently, Wade Laws son Gary Lee Law remembered that Frank Esposito substituted for Ralph Bailey
on bass fiddle when Ralph was out of town working on the CBQ railroad.

October 31, 1999, Wayne Perkins, Moline, IL, recalled workings for station KROS 1340 and playing in the Smokey Valley Boys orchestra on those Sundays at noon. Wayne Perkins also played for Ralph Slade and a good many other orchestras around the midwest.

Mr. Perkins believes he played with Wade Law as early as 1939. He said that in the early 1950's Wade Law's dance band played an increasing amount of western music which Wayne didn't prefer as much as the dance music Wade played earlier.

Clarinetist/Vocalist Anita Peschang Hanson remembered filling in for a sick clarinetist on a  Smokey Valley Boy radio program in Clinton, IA in about 1949.  The sick clarinetist might have been eighteen year-old Bill Ritchie.

A still photo of the Smokey Valley Boys with members Gene McLaine, Ralph Bailey, Lewey Reusch, Wade Law, John Smolek, Jr., and Bill Ritchie can be viewed on page 1 of the Smokey Valley Boys below. A second photo of the Smokey Valley Boys with Everett (Shorty) Eveland, Bob Mitchell and Jake Neusam can be found on page 2. Frank Espisito and Marvin Schreiner are two other Savanna musicians who occasionally played with the Smokey Valley Boys.