Tri-State Big Band brings back days of the Swing Era
The Tri-State Big Band is carrying on the tradition of the Big Band Era by recreating the sounds of the 1940s and early 1950s with a few pop songs of recent years thrown in. The band has been in existence since 1988 and was the brain child of Bernie Wolf, the band's director and trumpet player. He dreamed of a community stage band and over the years it grew into a much larger venture, that now has 26 members.
Their first performance was for the Clear Spring Minstrel Show, now called the Clear Spring Variety Show. They opened the show with 45 minutes of big band music and still perform there every March.
They first practiced at the Southern Fulton music room, where Wolf was the band director. When he retired, they practiced at the Hancock Middle-Senior High School band room where Mark Valco, the drummer for the band, was band director. Now they practice at the Hancock Methodist Church in the new hall.
Members are from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, therefore the name, Tri-State Big Band. There is a mixture of students as well as older amateur players, along with several band directors. There are also teachers, professionals and retired folks. The members have changed with moves and college careers and relocations, but a strong nucleus has been a part of the band from the beginning.
Some students left and returned as adults. There are father and son members – the Lochbaums, and Herb and David Young. Grandchildren are beginning to show an interest.
The makeup of the band is that of the traditional big band: five or six saxophones, four to six horns, four or five trumpets, drums, keyboards, bass and guitar.
The Tri-State Big Band has played for anniversaries dances, festivals, carnivals, civic gatherings and holiday celebrations.
"We have been fed for our performances and sometimes even left waiting out in the cold. I think we all do it for fun and the enjoyment of the audience," said Dan Murphy, the bass player and band manager.
When playing at a function, the band members look the part, dressed in black and white with bow ties. They are going to play dinner and dance music for an upcoming wedding with a l'40s motif. The bride will arrive in a 1940 Cadillac.
On Saturday evening, July 28, they will play at a "Big Band Ball" at the Country Inn to kick off Morgan County Fair week.
At their shows the Tri-State Big Band takes listeners on a "Sentimental Journey" to the days of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington, where you may feel like "Stompin' at the Savoy."