It’s a remarkable testament to staying power that tunes first topping the music charts in the 1930s and 40s remain popular today. Indeed, the work of big band leaders like Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Glenn Miller and the Dorsey Brothers continues to find life and a broad range of fans from all age groups via modern swing orchestras such as Standing Room Only, the 16-member big band that will be performing at the annual Classic Theatre Festival fundraiser Swing into Spring event at the Perth Civitan Saturday, May 3 at 7 pm. Now marking its 11th anniversary, Standing Room Only started in 2003 when trombonist and Almonte resident Catherine Illingworth brought some musical friends together under the direction of a former Glebe Collegiate Institute music teacher, Stan Clark. Among the original band members was Elizabeth Sampson, who will be playing alto saxophone and clarinet on May 3. Sampson represents that growing corps of musicians worldwide who remain entranced with big band and swing music, defying the popular wisdom that anything older than yesterday’s twitter feed could possibly interest anyone. In fact, as Sampson and Standing Room Only members point out, the interest is shared by everyone from octogenarians to pre-teens, all of whom show up at their popular monthly tea dances at the Almonte Town Hall. (Sampson’s 12-year-old son also plays clarinet and enjoys selling tickets at the tea dances). A member of her high school band, Sampson recalls playing marches and Beatles tunes, but never anything from the golden age of swing. Following a 20-year hiatus from music, during which she studied architecture at Carleton and went on to work both for the federal government and in private practice, Sampson answered the call from Illingworth and got back into the cycle of weekly band rehearsals, often in her basement, and a growing list of concert and dance commitments. While Standing Room Only’s authenticity is often based on finding the original arrangements for classics from In the Mood and One O’Clock Jump to Mack the Knife and the Pink Panther, the band is open to new arrangements from the like of Michael Buble’s band. Sampson particularly enjoys the way in which the instruments in the band complement each other, building in melody while allowing for improvisation. Asked whether her architectural background influences her approach to music, Sampson agrees with the analogy, noting “there is a structure to the music, with 12 or 16 bar phrases. We have lots of engineers and computer people in the band.” While Sampson must pay attention to the music and her band director during performances, she cannot help but notice the infectious enthusiasm on the dance floor as couples and individuals foxtrot, waltz, and tango to the band’s tunes. “This music is a lot of fun to dance to,” she says, “and it’s very democratic. Everyone dances with everyone else.” Those with a film background will also recognize members of the band in the recently-released 1930s-set film, “Ming.” Sampson says that for the film, the… Continue reading
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Truth and Reconciliation is more than words. They must be equaled with action. As a means of acknowledging the land and people where we are privileged to live and work, we sought out the wisdom of Lynn Gehl, an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. For Lynn’s Land Acknowledgement Statement, click HERE.