‘Jazz Trains’ Will Celebrate ‘Chattanooga’ Track Record


“Chattanooga Choo Choo,” one of the most famous train songs ever, was first heard 50 years ago, in the film “Sun Valley Serenade.”

The Mack Gordon-Harry Warren song was performed in the film by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, featuring Tex Beneke on the vocal. Miller later recorded the tune for RCA Victor Records, and it became the first record formally certified as a million seller.

To celebrate the song’s 50th anniversary, Richard Doherr is organizing “The Jazz Trains,” two train rides that will take participants Friday and next Saturday from stops in Orange and Los Angeles counties to Santa Barbara.

The excursions, which are fund-raisers for Saddleback College’s non-commercial radio station, KSBR-FM in Mission Viejo, will use private cars attached to Amtrak’s regular San Diegan train service. Only tickets for the Saturday train are available; the Friday train is sold out, according to Doherr, who runs a South County “mystery train” business.


The Oct. 5 train will include refreshments and musicians performing jam-session style throughout the journey. “Each stop we’ll have more players getting on, so the music will be different as we travel,” Doherr said. “The music will range from swing to modern and fusion.”

One tune you can count on the musicians playing will be, of course, “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Guests will board the Saturday train in San Juan Capistrano at 6:33 a.m., in Santa Ana at 6:55 a.m., in Fullerton at 7:12 a.m. and at Union Station in Los Angeles at 8:10 a.m. The train arrives in Santa Barbara at 10:35 a.m.

Tickets are $98 a person round trip, and include a VIP admission to the third annual Santa Barbara Jazz Festival, which takes place next Saturday and Sunday. The festival will feature Les McCann, Poncho Sanchez and Radcliffe and others.


Hotel accommodations in Santa Barbara are not included, but packages with accommodations are available, Doherr said. Return travel to Los Angeles and Orange counties will be by bus on Sunday.

Information: (714) 752-5456.