Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Band Era

My husband Rick is hip. Whoo boy, is he ever hip. Well, he would be if this were 1940. That man loves the rockin' sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. Yep, he's a swinger... but only in the musical sense.

And being the good wife that I am, I bought him tickets to the Glenn Miller Orchestra when they blew into town. You'd have thought it was Christmas around here. He could hardly even sleep waiting for his chance to hear Moonlight Serenade and In The Mood to be played... LIVE.

And finally the day arrived. And I went kicking and screaming. I couldn't imagine anything more torturous than sitting through two hours of men in bow ties and green polyester jackets playing the songs that I am forced to listen to day in and day out. Ugh. We entered the Meyerson and I immediately kicked back and propped my feet up on the side of the box we were seated in.

At least we had a good view. We were seated just above the crowd so I could see every blue hair in the group. And what a different group it was. Every seat was filled by ladies wearing their finest. There were bouffants everywhere. I'm sure the beauty shops had made a killing that morning. And the men were equally as dapper. This was a very refined group and, uh, I was terribly underdressed. I quickly took my feet off of the railing in front of me. Today was a day for the good manners.

The show began right on schedule and the conductor walked onstage to a very appreciative crowd. In fact, he could do no wrong. This crowd loved the show and it hadn't even started yet.

And, as you may have guessed, it wasn't long before I was enthralled. Not only by the music coming from the stage but from the crowd down below as well. THIS was one rockin' group!

Each of the musicians played a multitude of instruments, which became a show in itself. When it was time for the flutes, suddenly the men had flutes in their hands. Flutes went into their laps and up popped clarinets. Hey, how'd they do that?

Each musician could pull whatever instrument he needed, out of nowhere… And when the clarinet portion was finished, up would pop another instrument. I lost track. Fortunately the conductor had it all together.

These guys could really multi-task. I think I can multi-task, but they put me to shame. Okay, I can’t really multi-task. But I can chew gum and watch TV at the same time.

There were no video monitors on stage, either. Instead the guys used something rarely seen anymore... sheet music. OLD sheet music. From where I sat it looked yellowed and wrinkled. Yes, this was the good ol’ fashioned way.

There was a military tribute - of course - since Mr. Miller did entertain the troops - and the conductor invited all military vets to stand and be recognized. Not a man remained seated. Rick stood, too, but he was the ONLY one who didn’t serve in WWII. Rick was the baby in the group. He only did 'Nam. I was still proud.

The conductor invited audience participation. Audience participation was 100%, save for one half-century old girl who thought she was too cool. But it didn’t take long before I was a-clappin’ my hands, too. And when they got to the song Pennsylvania 6500? Whoo doggie. I nearly went deaf from all the hand clapping. And the crowd knew every word. On cue.

This crowd was in heaven. This was the kind of show where the musicians rocked and swayed their instruments back and forth. And up and down. And around and around. And the crowd loved it. This crowd that was not hip... was actually very hip. And they knew what they liked and they were not afraid to show it.

Old people can be so funny. Their humor is quite blue at times, too. I grew up thinking that my parents didn't have a clue about life. That they were very innocent and uninformed. But this show proved to me that old folks have the biggest clue of all.

Besides being just good entertainment, the show was funny. Glenn Miller must've been one funny dude. I never laughed so much.

I miss the time when musicians cared about their music. And their audience. And this crowd cared right back. They could've cared less about the economy right at that moment. They were being transported back to a time when life was simpler and yet very sophisticated, all at the same time.

According to the program: Mr. Miller disappeared on December 15, 1944. The bandleader went down over the English Channel on a flight from London to Paris at the height of his popularity.

I guess that's just the way of all good musicians.

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