Author Archives: lmcb

How Swing Dancing Can Add Fun To Your Wedding Reception

Wedding receptions aren’t always as lively as we want them to be. Sometimes, people are feeling tired and worn out after a long day. If you want to make sure your guests have a great time, you’re going to want to find a way to add a little bit of extra excitement to your wedding reception.

Thankfully, there is an easy way for you to do just that. If you make swing dancing a part of your wedding reception, people will be at the edge of your seat.

Here are three different ways you can include swing in your reception.

  • • Have The Bride And Groom Perform A Swing Routine

    The bride and groom should be the stars of any wedding reception. If the newlywed couple wants to stand out and thrill their guests, they should try performing some kind of swing dance routine.
    A well-choreographed routine will really impress guests. Most people don’t expect to see great dancing at a wedding, so when they do see it, they have absolutely blown away.
    While swing dancing is a great idea for a first dance, a swing routine could also be another, different performance. What’s important is that the bride and groom feel great about the routine they’re performing. Everyone will love seeing those swing steps!

  • • Teach Guests Swing Dance Steps

    A lot of people love watching swing dancing but don’t think that they could learn those steps themselves. If you have guests like this, take it upon yourself to teach them a few swing steps. By the time the night is over, they’ll be dancing like old pros.
    If there are some experienced dancers attending the wedding, they should easily be able to teach a few simple steps to guests. If there aren’t a lot of dancers around, you could hire an instructor to offer a brief dance lesson. Sure, that sort of thing is unusual for a wedding, but that’s what makes it fun!

  • • Include Some Big-Band Songs On Your Wedding Playlist

    If the people attending your wedding are already big fans of swing, you won’t need to do anything special in order to get them moving. All you’ll need to do is make sure that they have a few great songs to dance to. Believe it or not, there are couples that feel their friends and family don’t enjoy dancing but do love the great songs that came out of the swing era.
    Some couples hire a swing dance band for part of their event and then switch to a DJ for rock material. There are “variety bands,” that do swing and rock along with some ballroom material, Swing Fever Entertainment offers some great ones.
    If you’re working with a band, try to handle a band that can incorporate a little bit of swing into their music. As people like to say, your songs won’t mean a thing if they don’t have that swing!
    Swing dancing is an absolute blast, especially when it’s done at weddings. If you add a little bit of swing to your wedding, you’ll be able to have a reception that your guests won’t forget. Don’t feel like you have to have the same wedding everyone else is having. Make your wedding unique and special.

This is a guest post by Mark Wilcox, founder of Wedding Intro which helps brides reduce their stress by providing simple and clear wedding planning information.

Click here to read a review of Swing Fever.

First Anniversary of Marriage Equality

Wow! It’s the one year anniversary of marriage equality in the U.S.A. It makes us proud to see that at least on this front our country has evolved, grown up, moved toward justice and dare I say love. Congratulations America and to all of the LGBTQ folks who struggled for so many years in order to get here, (and here is not all the way, yet). There are still minds to change. And there are still so many issues that need our evolution and growing up. But for the moment I will celebrate this wonderful step that our country has taken toward fairness and inclusion. Cheers to all the lovers and friends who can now partake in the rituals and the legal benefits of marriage, should that be their choice.

What Size Band Should I Hire?

Answering a question with questions is sometimes frowned upon, in this case it is necessary.

  • How many guests will you have?
  • How much space have you allotted for the band?
  • Do you expect dancing?
  • And of course…what kind of a budget do you have?

No matter what the answer to the last three questions, it would seem foolish to have a trio at an event for 400 people, likewise a 15-piece big band for 50 people. And certainly we always assume that your budget is somewhat commensurate with guest count, but we’ve occasionally been surprised. Please know that nothing is set in stone. Certain performers can have a larger than life feel, but I need to generalize for this.

Thinking of Clark Terry – Part I

Thinking of Clark Terry, one of the least consequential of memories, and yet one of the dearest, keeps creeping back. One of our concert tours with Clark stretched us across the Sierra from North Tahoe to Chico, where we were due for a concert that night at the University. I was driving with Clark and his nephew, Terrance White, who in 1995 travelled as part of the Clark Terry package.
Highway 89 is a beautiful forested stretch of winding road, nearly bare of traffic, but rich with tall Douglas fir and cedars, dropping down through Quincy, where it joins Highway 70, and meanders through Feather River Canyon.
It’s a route I know well, but a very different sort of environment for Clark, who politely wondered from time to time just where the hell I was taking him.
Through most of the trip I was playing a tape that Dean Reilly had made for me. It was Ellington’s Bal Masque concert from Duke’s Billy Strayhorn years. Clark had been a part of the Ellington Band then. Quite often you never knew whether the Ellington arrangements were actually by Duke or Strayhorn. Clark said the Bal Masque was Strayhorn top to bottom. The music was not the familiar Ellington, but ancient pop tunes like “Laugh Clown Laugh,” “Poor Butterfly,” stuff you never heard, served with Billy’s special reverence. As we wound through this landscape of fir and cedar, Clark revisited his own beloved landscape, tune by tune, peppered with Duke and Billy stories.
Clark had played with Basie as well as Ellington. He talked about travelling in their different buses. The Basie bus was clean and orderly, sixteen or seventeen well bathed guys happily chatting or playing cards. Ellington’s bus, he said, had socks hanging in the windows, shoes kicking around the aisles, a pervasive human smell, and at any one time eight or nine guys who weren’t speaking to one another. Above and apart from it all, Duke would be napping next to the driver
It was on the Ellington bus that Clark found himself enmeshed in one of the two lethal fights he said he experienced; in this case trying to physically restrain the enflamed Juanito (valve trombonist Juan Tizol) from burying his familiar shiv into a fellow band member. “That was the second time,” Clark said. There was an even more famous incident on the bandstand between Juanito and Charles Mingus, with Clark again as embattled referee.
Clark said the Ellington band had a thief. When the band would stop for a meal, or a bathroom break, everyone would leave the bus except this one player. “Don’t you want to get out man, take a breather?” “No, man, I think I’ll just stay back and rest a bit.” Band guys began to discover things missing from their personal bags. After a while they figured out who the culprit was; when one of them spotted him stealing half dozen silk handkerchiefs from the bag of Duke himself. A posse formed, confronted the thief, and returned the handkerchiefs without Duke ever knowing the theft had occurred. That stopped the thefts, Clark said, “for a while.”
That high-note specialist remained in the band for years. “Fired?” Clark said, “The old man never fired anyone. May have eased them out here and there, but fired – that wasn’t Duke.”
Clark’s Sylvan ride with me through Feather River Canyon had a rude interruption when he had a diabetic episode. It was necessary to get some food into him and quickly. We were miles from anything that looked like a grocery or café. This was 1995. Clark’s diabetes had already been an issue. His forgetfulness about eating, and sometimes poor nutritional choices when he did eat, was one of the big reasons that his nephew Terrance was sent along from New York for company.
It was touch and go for 40 miles. Eventually as we climbed out of the canyon, a grocery, like a mirage, appeared out of nowhere. Nothing around it but trees. Food bought, food ingested, crisis averted.
Fully himself, Clark and Swing Fever played that night at the Laxen Auditorium in Chico.
So now whenever I put on the Bal Masque tape my mind wanders. I’m in the car with Clark again, winding through Feather River Canyon with the Ellington band and Billy Strayhorn.

There’s more coming

There’s no party without entertainment

This is my best advice: think about the entertainment before you get a venue.

I have performed as a musician at more than 500 weddings and I have booked other bands for many more of the big events, and still I love them. I come to this topic with a bias; I really love live music and I sincerely believe it ads a tremendous amount to the overall event. One of the most memorable parts of your event will be the entertainment. You and your guests will still be remembering the fun that was had, long after guests have misplaced (or eaten) the chatchke or chocolate at their place setting.

For most events, music will play a role; how big a role and whether you decide to use live or prerecorded music are the big questions. I will make the case that live music ads visual stimulation as well as listening pleasure. Even non-dancing guests will enjoy watching a good band, along with watching others dance. Sometimes you can arrange that the PA stay up an hour after the band stops, to play CDs or your ipod. Whatever material you wanted, that the band doesn’t cover can be provided that way. Also CDs/ipods are played on band breaks.

Decisions about music should be made before you sign on to a venue. There are certain venues that have very few restrictions about music. There are others that are music friendly, but have terrible acoustics; this problem can be nuanced, if you choose event professionals. There are venues that do not allow any amplification. If you have your heart set on a vocalist, such a venue would make vocals impossible. Examine your priorities and expect to compromise to get an overall best result.

Outdoor venues pose a different set of problems. If the weather changes, you will have real humans who want to stay dry and warm – if you can do it for your guests, you should be able to do it for the band as well.

  • Is there a dry, hard, level surface for the band to set up on?
  • Is there electricity; are the outlets close and available?

Some consideration when choosing a band:

  • Do you have people of different ages and tastes to please?
  • Do you want music at the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and party? Most professional, events bands have a musician (or two or three) that can play for your ceremony; some can do classical music, some might suggest jazz standards or pop ballads. The most cost effective way to get live music for your entire event is to find such a band and have them start as a solo or trio and then add to the group. Generally the full band is booked for four hours (dinner, then dance sets). The additional couple of hours (ceremony and cocktails) are done with one, two or three players.

Today, more than ever entertainment choices are affected by budgetary considerations. There are excellent bands that have worked for years, but perhaps don’t have major name recognition. Many bands work in different sizes; a six-piece may work as a five-piece, and cost less. Though prices vary around the country, I will posit that professional bands run between $1500 on up to $10,000 – with the bulk of pro-events bands between $2500 and $5000.

Because most couples don’t come into the process with a band in mind, I recommend a reputable booking company; many mistakes can be avoided with their help. Such a company should be licensed, have insurance, and have a good reputation with their former clients, with venues and with musicians. Musicians often charge booking companies less (because they get consistent work). A better deal can often be made with a booking company’s help.

Paula Helene is employed by Swing Fever Entertainment, www.band-booking.com, Northern California live music providers for 26 years. Owned and operated by Swing Fever’s Bandleader, Bryan Gould, who has played at more than 1500 weddings www.swingfever.com

Remembering Buddy DeFranco

In 1999 Swing Fever met the wonderful clarinetist and warm gentleman Buddy DeFranco.
This is how it came about. Our band had a tour booked which included the fine ex-Basie trumpeter, Harry “Sweets” Edison. Harry had not been well, and a month before the tour he died. Since the tour had been focused on him, it was incumbent upon us to apprehend a noble equivalent. Buddy DeFranco’s name came up. No one in Swing Fever had ever played with Buddy, though his reputation and his music were well-known to us. We telephoned him – I can’t recall how we came to have his number – and within an hour he had signed on.
For many years Buddy had led his own groups where he was the featured soloist, but this was an instance where he was incorporated right into the band, playing clarinet parts – which we quickly had written for him – in the ensemble. Naturally we also gave him a lot of solo space.
All of a sudden there we were, Swing Fever and Buddy DeFranco concertizing all over California. And I was getting to know one of the most distinct and warm gentlemen in jazz, along with his wife Joyce, who was by his side and ours, throughout the tour. It began a friendship that has lasted, mostly by telephone, all the years since. In 2001 Swing Fever did another California tour with Buddy.
The first included Tony Johnson, drums; Ruth Davis, bass; Steve Campos, trumpet; Jim Putman, guitar; Buddy and Jackie Ryan and, what an honor, me. Jim Rothermel was the other reed, and it was a pleasure listening to Jim and Buddy trading 4s, 8s, 2s.
During our two tours we recorded some of the concerts. Just last year a CD/DVD package was released. Better late than never. These recordings also include Jackie, along with some of the other live dates we had done with Clark Terry and Terry Gibbs. It was produced by OpenArt Productions, and me.
Some of the memorable tour moments: At Villa Montalvo, in Saratoga, we had a chance to observe Buddy conducting a workshop with a college band, where he kept leaning on the woodwinds to play legato, to sustain all the way through their phrasing instead of biting the notes off. Not a bad bit of advice for us too, I remember thinking at the time.
Buddy was an inveterate rehearser, who practiced his clarinet nearly every day of his life, and had done so clear back in his early days with Tommy Dorsey and before. He did the same on our tour. It drew a complaint from one hotel guest in Saratoga. This ruffled Buddy’s feathers a bit. He said he hadn’t had a hotel complaint in 30 years.
He invented a “mute’ for the clarinet, which allowed him to practice at full volume almost noiselessly. It consisted of a long glove that covered the clarinet entirely with slits on both sides for your hands to enter. He said he had ideas about manufacturing it commercially; did that ever happen? He could have sold six of them just on his name alone (clarinets being so popular).
Buddy said that toward the end of Tommy Dorsey’s life they rekindled a friendship that earlier had some bumps in it. He also kept up a friendship with the late Artie Shaw.
“Here’s a little something to think about,” Buddy said to me one time, “contrary to what everyone thinks Charlie Parker did not play better when high on heroin. Often he played considerably worse.” Nonetheless it was Parker he said, who really opened his ears and sent him headlong into bebop.
He had a very low opinion of dope in general, and especially of the rockers who he felt led a lot of young people to abuse. He held the rockers of the ‘60s responsible for ruining a lot of lives.
For a jazz musician, Buddy was a very upright traditional sort of person. This made him a nice balance to the madcap Terry Gibbs. Terry jabbed him with wild spirit; Buddy brought Terry (according to Buddy) down to earth. (On our tour with Terry; I can personally say that I have never seen Terry Gibbs down to earth.) Their partnership was felicitous.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra traditionally gets the raspberry from jazz players, chiefly because it sidestepped jazz. Buddy led the Miller ghost band for eight years and enjoyed it, even though he said he rarely played clarinet in it. He told me it was the arrangements he loved, Bill Finnegan’s in particular.
I remember Buddy talking about playing in the super-avant garde Boyd Raeburn band. “Cleared the room in six minutes.”
Also the Buddy DeFranco Quartet had booked two weeks in an east coast club owned by a gloomy old mafioso type who glared at him through the whole first set. He confronted Buddy on the break: “So when does the singing start? “Singing,” Buddy replied? The guy thought he had booked Buddy Greco.

Swing

Swing jazz was the dominant music of the “Big Band Era” in the 1930s and 40s, played by orchestras of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and dozens of other well- rehearsed excellent “hot” bands, along with cooling the jazz emphasis, like the Glenn Miller Orchestra and “Sweet” bands like Guy Lombardo. The era began with black bands (Bennie Moten, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington) in the late 1920s, and became a screaming sensation as the white bands and white audiences (mostly college age) took up the style. Swing bands also trained a spotlight on the great songs of Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers, Berlin, Carmichael etc. – the so called “Great American Songbook” – bringing them maximum attention and respect.

Swing took the nation through the Great Depression and the War years, then stumbled to almost a dead halt in 1946, as postwar couples began staying at home and raising families. Rhythm and Blues and the popularity of vocalists such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra had already made serious inroads. Bebop (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gilespie) had grabbed the attention of the more adventuresome jazz listeners.

Swing dancers of today harken mostly to the music of that Depression era and its various “jitterbug” dance styles, curiously ignoring the Latin, waltz, ballad and other “ballroom” features of the Big Bands which always – we forget – played a rich mixture.

The singing style of Frank Sinatra is also a leftover of the Swing era. His music-largely a parade of the “Great American Songbook,” has maintained a dedicated audience, which also includes diehard fans of Bobby Darrin, Dean Martin, Harry Connick and Michael Buble. No greater devotee to this music can be found than Michael Feinstein.

Swing Fever Set Lists – Oregon tour 2012

OR/WA 2012 SET I

9:20 Special (Warren, Basie, 1930s)
The Count Basie Band was one of the big surprises of the 1930s. A blues-based “territory” band from Kansas City, it hit New York with a style in wild contrast to those of Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb who commanded Harlem.

Straighten Up And Fly Right (Cole, 1943)
Nat King Cole’s first hit in 1943 on the fledgling Capitol label, and one of the hallmarks of the great King Cole Trio, which featured Nat Cole’s sparkling piano in tandem with the guitar of Oscar Moore. Starving in Los Angeles, Nat had sold the rights to his song for $50. The song nonetheless, helped establish his career.

Liza (Gershwin, Kahn, Gershwin, 1929)
Is one of the fine contributions from the Gershwin brothers, and an example of how much the new exciting songs of Gershwin, Kern, Arlen, Berlin, Porter and Rodgers influenced and stimulated the Big Bands and soloists of the era.

All of Me ~ (Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons, 1931)
First appearing in 1931, this song enjoyed many revivals, including a Billie Holiday version and later one by Frank Sinatra, which really established the tune as a standard. Denise Perrier sings.

Alright, OK~ Singer Joe Williams shot a spark into the Count Basie band of the 1950s with hits such as “Ev’ry Day” and “The Comeback,” contrasted with a smooth, swinging ballad style that helped launch a popular career, that persisted into the 1990s.

Caravan (Tizol, Ellington, 1937)
Long established as a Duke Ellington standard, “Caravan” was really a contribution of Ellington’s long-time valve trombonist Juan Tizol, who also wrote “Perdido.” The germ of many Ellington compositions came from his sidemen, and Duke had the luxury of maintaining a band to glean their ideas, as well as to test and stimulate his compositional offerings.

Sam You Made The Pants Too Long
Adapted from Victor Young’s “Lord, You made the Night Too Long” 1932, a minor Bing Crosby hit that Milton Berle and cronies felt obliged to parody in 1940 as a man’s kvetch to his tailor.

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To ~ (Porter, 1942)
Ending a title with a preposition was just one of the ways that Cole Porter broke the rules with his inventive songs and urbane, sometimes riskè lyrics. Porter wrote all his own lyrics, something that among the great popular composers only Irving Berlin and Frank Loesser attempted. Though widely renowned for those lyrics, Cole Porter’s true genius lies in his compositions, like this one sung by Denise Perrier.

Until the Real Thing Comes Along ~ (Chapman, Cahn, 1936)
Has personal meaning to Denise Perrier, who heard it as a young girl in her own family. Lyrics are by the beloved Sammy Cahn, who penned many songs with composer Jimmy Van Heusen for Frank Sinatra, but this one was written with Saul Chapman.

Route 66 ~ (Troup, 1946)
Bobby Troup and his young wife composed the song as they drove their car westward to seek their fortune in Hollywood. They tried their rhymes first on other highways, but it was only when they got on Route 66 after Chicago that the tune began to click. The song became widely popular and one of the hits for Nat King Cole and his King Cole Trio.

OR/WA 2012 Set II

Splanky
Count Basie’s band was most at home with the blues, which harkened back to its Kansas City origins, and often displayed the band’s extraordinary sense of dynamics and irresistible rhythmic pulse, driven by the rhythm guitar of Freddie Green in lock-step with drums and bass, and the Count’s pianistic comments.

I’ve Got the World On a String (Arlen, Koehler)
This is one of the early songs which introduced the world to the music of Harold Arlen. Arlen teamed with lyricists to produce many of the greatest songs in American Music; Ted Koehler (for this and other songs), Yip Harburg (the score for “The Wizard of Oz,”) and, Johnny Mercer (“That Old Black Magic,” “Blues in the Night,” “One For My Baby”).

On the Sunny Side Of the Street ~ (McHugh, Fields)
Denise is forever sunny when she leads us down this familiar boulevard, music by Jimmy McHugh, one of the 30s finest and Dorothy Fields a trailblazing woman in the music industry and a very successful lyricist.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin ~ (Porter)
In contrast to Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and most of the middleclass composers and lyricists of the period, Cole Porter was born wealthy, yet able to overcome this handicap and write some of the most memorable songs of the period. Only Porter, Berlin and Frank Loesser were courageous enough to write not only their music, but also their lyrics.

Tickletoe (Young, Basie, 1939)
Lester Young was one of the two great tenor saxophonists who blew into Harlem with the Count Basie Band, and one who would live to be among the most influential players emerging from the Swing Era. Saxophonist Charlie McCarthy is featured on this exuberant “Prez” number.

Love For Sale (Porter, 1930)
Like his first hit “Let’s Do It,” Cole Porter enjoyed pushing the thematic limits. Love For Sale traced the weary existence of a savvy, wistful professional. It was said that nothing gave Cole Porter greater pleasure than raised eyebrows. The censors rewarded him by banning it from the airwaves!

Mood Indigo ~ (Ellington, 1931)
Duke Ellington’s earliest steady engagement was at the Cotton Club in New York, a famous gang-run establishment that had an all white audience and all black entertainment. Ellington’s Orchestra was known as “The Jungle Band,” featuring muted horn effects by Bubber Miley, Duke’s first great trumpeter.
It was out of this same atmosphere that, in 1931, Mood Indigo was born. The year marked a turning point for the Duke, away from the Cotton Club and the “Jungle Band” style and toward an identity based on Duke’s increasing complex compositions and the band’s growing popularity.

Honey Suckle Rose ~ (Waller, Razaf)
One of the cheery, light hearted songs of Fats Waller that seemed to fly out of his nimble fingers. Writing with lyricist Andy Razaf, the best of them were instant hits. Waller himself, one of the truly great stride piano players, enjoyed a popularity second only to that of Louis Armstrong.

Georgia On My Mind ~ (Carmichael)
Hoagy Carmichael, native of Indiana, often harkened back to the rural; whether it was “Memphis in June,” “Moon Country,” or “Lazy River,” you could usually fine a moon or a hayfield in it someplace, especially when he teamed with lyricist Johnny Mercer (“Skylark”).

Take the A Train ~ (Strayhorn, 1941)
Billy Strayhorn’s composition, which became the Ellington theme and remained so for years, began as a sketch Strayhorn penned on the subway on his way to Ellington’s house in Harlem, an audition piece for joining Duke’s band as an arranger.

Clark Terry’s 94th Birthday

December 14, 2014 was Clark Terry’s 94th Birthday. For those for whom the name rings only a distant bell, trumpeter Clark Terry has been one of the most respected and renowned players of the past 60 or 70 years, having served long apprenticeships in both the Ellington and Basie bands, and led many versions of his own band, resulting in countless recordings.Two of those recordings were with Swing Fever. Both were studio recordings done in San Francisco, and came at the culmination of numerous concert dates touring around California. (Both are available – just ask us.)Our first meeting with Clark, grew out of our determination to honor Pee Wee Claybrook, the fine saxophonist who played with Swing Fever for many years, but had never recorded. He and Clark had known each other since the early says of WWII. Clark loved the idea of joining us on a CD. It turned out to be just in time, as Pee Wee died shortly afterward.Knowing Clark has been one of my great personal thrills in my 32 years of Swing Fever. One indelible memory is driving Clark over the Sierra and through Feather River Canyon – the shortest route between two concert gigs – while we played a tape of Duke Ellington’s Bal Masque concert. Clark had been part of that concert, and his running commentary on the performance should have become a CD by itself. One thing that stood out is Clark’s delight with Billy Strayhorn’s arrangements for that performance.Among Clark’s virtues is his effervescent humor. In the be-bop era it was considered taboo by the serious frowners (Miles, etc.) to display humor onstage or in the music. Dizzy Gillespie, for one, attracted criticism for his clowning, but got away with it because he was Diz. The same can be said of Clark, who followed humor-wise, in the tradition of Armstrong and Fats Waller, at the same time as his music hued closer to Charlie Parker. It’s a playfulness, scarcely diminished by numerous physical ailments as Clark has aged.Another memory grew out of our first recording where, due to Clark’s failing eyesight, I had the trumpet parts blown up to double size. However, the printer had mistaken my instructions, and expanded the parts to a factor not of two, but of four. Having no time to correct the error, we arrived at the Mobius recording studio, and presented Clark with trumpet parts on huge posters. Some artists of Clark’s renown might have taken this as a colossal insult, but Clark laughed about it then, and hasn’t stopped yet.I will include the recollection tomorrow in my telephone birthday greeting. If it doesn’t elicit at least a chuckle, I’ll know I have the wrong number.Here’s a reflection for us: Dave Brubeck, who just celebrated his 90th, and Clark Terry were born just days apart. What a contrast in backgrounds – hardscrabble in St. Louis, horse ranch in California – and in their contributions to American music. My only encounter with Brubeck was the one I recounted on the previous entry (though treated to numerous Dave and Paul stories by Joe Dodge, Brubeck’s early drummer and ours) but I grew to know Clark quite well during tours and recordings, and later a visit to his and Gwen’s home in New Jersey.And then just a very few years ago, my wife Laurie and I met them in Manhattan for dinner at the Jazz Standard, where Frank Foster’s Big Band was playing. Frank was then recovering from a stroke, and was unable to manage his saxophone, but yanked out a trumpet, which he could operate with his good hand, and lured Clark to the stage for a trumpet duet. The place was full of musicians. The great thrill for Laurie and me, besides the music, was sitting with Clark as musicians crept over by ones and twos and threes to pay tribute, reminisce and chat. The camaraderie among those players, mostly younger, mostly black, seemed tremendous. It felt like community.

Tell me more.

So very often a potential client will tell me they want a dance band. Well they probably don’t mean a tango band, so I take that to mean a variety band: some swing, some ballroom, some old rock, maybe some newer rock – what we think of as a wedding and events band that has to please a varied group of people. Often I find that people actually want a rock band, but unless you are more specific, I wouldn’t know that.

A booking company, like we are, can offer all kinds of bands, but you need to tell us what you want. The more you can tell me about what you envision, the more likely you are to be presented with a choice of bands that will meet and exceed your expectations.