This Saturday evening, things will be swingin’ at City Market. You know it’s going to be wild because there’s no “g” at the end of “swingin.’” In addition to the actual entertainment listed, I will be there.
I love Big Band Music. My Dad was part of what’s now called The Greatest Generation.
Although, I suspect he’d feel a bit uncomfortable referring to himself that way. He’d point out that working in a camp library in Tokyo, after cessation of hostilities, was not exactly tough duty. Then, again, there were times he had to wrestle the Dewey Decimal System to the ground in order to properly distinguish between biography and autobiography.
My Dad insisted that Big Band Music would make a comeback and become, once again, the main melody of the nation. (He also insisted that Julie Andrews was part of a conspiracy to corrupt our youth. So, his judgement was not always perfect.) Actually, he was not totally off-key in his feelings about Big Bands. The truth is, Big Band Music never went away.
In the 1970s, I decided that singing with a Big Band would be a great job. Yes, on the surface, it appears I was about 40 years too late. However, versions of the great bands were (and are) still out there, on the road, making music. So, I recorded a cassette tape of myself playing the piano and warbling the tunes, Pennies From Heaven and Nevertheless.
Then, I drove to a ballroom in McFarland, Wisconsin. It wasn’t so much a ballroom as an empty shed that usually held snow-removal equipment. But, several times over the course of a summer, they would put down wood flooring, set up a stage, arrange some chairs and tables and book a band.
One time, a version of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra played there, led by the great trombonist, Buddy Morrow. I showed up and paid the five dollars to enter. During a break, I approached Mr. Morrow and offered him my cassette tape. He was very kind as he patiently explained how demanding life on the road can be as part of a band. But, he also said he was happy to see a younger generation embracing his kind of music. He actually put my tape in a portable cassette player sitting on the side of the stage. Listened to a few notes sung by a voice not quite done with puberty. Pressed stop, shook my hand and thanked me. He returned to the stage and played a haunting version of I’ll Never Smile Again.
Not long after that, the ballroom in McFarland went back to being used to store snow-removal equipment.
This Saturday night will be much more rewarding for everybody. Oh, and there will be plenty of dancing. I have much to say about my dancing ability but that’s the stuff of a different blog. In the meantime, I hope to see you Saturday night in City Market.
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