“The band is here only to support the trombones!” That was the delightful introduction by Maggie Doud, Seacoast Entertainment Association’s producer and ex-trombone player, for an evening of dancing on the flat floor at the Florence Events Center. The March 18 event brought the big band music of the official Glen Miller Orchestra to the Oregon Coast.
Under the direction of the multi-talented Nick Hilscher, the smooth tones of traditional big band era music sounded exactly like it did on the radio back in its hey-day. The band’s opening was their theme song, “Moonlight Serenade,” composed by Glenn Miller. As the evening progressed with tunes familiar to most of those in attendance, memories came flooding back to many. Not every eye in the room remained dry.
“Chattanooga Choo Choo” is a fun song written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon in 1941. Hilscher and the Moonlight Serenaders, consisting of three band members, and solo vocalist Ginny Swoish, joined together to sing this well-known tune with the band. They all had a fun time with this one delighting the audience.
Hilscher is a handsome family man who both directs the band and sings solo. His singing style and phrasing are definitely reminiscent of Frank Sinatra. He knows just when to step in and actually direct the band and when to step out of the picture and let the band play. When you have musicians that are among the best in the world, it isn’t necessary to mark the beat much.
Swoish first took the microphone to sing “Get Me To The Church On Time,” from Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.” Aside from being pleasing to watch, Swoish presents great personality with her voice. She has a beautiful voice and uses it to have fun and entertain. She harmonized well with the quartet and Hilscher.
The musicians make what they do look easy, but they have years of practice behind them that earned them frequent applause. They are also entertaining with their instrumental antics. The horns have Derby hats to accent their music. The trombones almost dance at times as they play. The saxophones joined in with similar antics. These excellent musicians are all amazing but the sax players were fascinating due to their ability to play multiple, but very different instruments. In addition to the saxophone, they all had clarinets and flutes waiting for a turn. While the music is much loved, the band makes it very entertaining for those watching.
There was more than just watching. There was a lot of dancing going on. Almost everyone in the room hit the dance floor at least once to “cut a rug!” One couple approached the dance floor and abandoned their walking canes to a friend as they took ballroom position to glide around to their favorite Glenn Miller tune.
Hilscher was the consummate band leader introducing each musician during the course of the evening. There isn’t space to name them all individually, but there wasn’t a sour note in the bunch. The lead musicians shone out and everyone was given a chance to stand out a bit.
One younger attendee was very much “into” big band music. She relayed the story of Glenn Miller’s mysterious disappearance during World War II. At one point she texted her brother in Nevada a picture of the band. He texted back that he was jealous. She gives hope that big band music will never die because it’s that good.
One nice thing this band always does is to recognize the veterans in the room. They are asked to stand and always receive hearty applause. As they sat down, the band played “American Patrol,” composed by Frank White Meacham and arranged as a swing tune for the band by Jerry Gray in 1941.
This excellent evening of music and dance was concert number five in SEA’s 2015-2016 series. Don’t miss SEA’s next concert, Shuffle Concert where the audience gets to pick the music, on Thursday, April 7, at 7:00 PM. For tickets phone the FEC box office @ 541-997-1994.