A band with personality

092: Glenn Miller OrchestraLast Thursday, I was flipping through my parent’s copy of my hometown newspaper. My eyes landed on a headline that the Glenn Miller Orchestra would be coming to town in a week.

I. Had. To. Go.

For one thing, I do happen to have a love for “big band” music. I was in band in high school (I was pretty good, too!) so my appreciation for the music is more than just enjoying it, but for the dynamics of playing it. For another, I didn’t even know the Glenn Miller Orchestra existed still, much less that they toured!

I was geeking out in the best possible way. Ever. A fact that friends pointed out to me rather gleefully.

I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about it, to which he was instantly sad to not be here in Texas with me to go as well. (Even if he’d been here this last week, he wouldn’t have made it due to his having to be back in Nashville to catch the bus to a gig himself in a day!) Tickets were only $10… $10!! I figured I had better purchase in advance, surely they’d sell out. It’s GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA!

So, on Monday, I made sure to make it to the Chamber of Commerce office to purchase tickets for myself and my parents to attend. I told the woman at the desk that, “I am SO STINKIN’ EXCITED!”

I got in the truck after obtaining the tickets and immediately posted to Twitter: I can not wait!! http://picplz.com/n5WX

I suppose I’ve already conveyed my ridiculous amounts of excitement by now, but… this was special. I go to a lot of concerts. I see a lot of live music. This was DIFFERENT.

“A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.” – Glenn Miller

Thank you, Glenn. That’s exactly it. This was going to be a night with a band with a personality. A band that harkened back to days when things were both simpler and harder. It would be music that was pure. No auto tuning. No tracks. These would be musicians who knew their instrument. Who were showing a talent that comes from years of practice, diligence, love and respect for the music itself.

Yesterday came with a terrible cold front hitting the area. A layer of ice covered everything as the sun came up on the day that I’d been so excited for for a week. At noon, the temperature was 22° with a wind chill of 7º. I prayed that the show wouldn’t be canceled or rescheduled. It didn’t make sense for it to be, but you just never know sometimes…

Luckily, the sun came out mid-afternoon, and what ice remained melted under its rays. I found my ability to concentrate going South.

Finally, it came time to go to the show. It was at the Cameron ISD Performing Arts Center. (Everyone can thank me now for putting it in Foursquare as of last night.) I’d only been there once or twice before; it was built long after I graduated from C.H. Yoe High School. It’s a gorgeous facility, and it beats the heck out of shows in the old cold gymnasium!

My parents and I grabbed front row seats, because I absolutely had to take photos. (DUH!) We (okay, fine, I) waited impatiently for the music to start. The theater was no where near as full as I assumed it would be. Cold temperatures kept a lot of people home, I am sure. Being married to a musician, I understand how much the audience can affect a performance, and my heart sank a little to see such a small crowd. I hoped the musicians didn’t think they weren’t appreciated. I hoped they wouldn’t regret their coming to this small town.

Finally, it was time. The band took the stage, and I was instantly impressed. Musicians played multiple instruments. They all wore suits and ties. Every single one clean cut and total professionals.

REFRESHING change from what I usually encounter at live music shows.

Glenn Miller Orchestra

At one point, band leader, Gary Tole, commented how the cold weather does make it harder on the instruments, but being professionals they all know how to compensate for it.

Professionals. I found myself nodding along. That’s what made these 19 individuals on stage are the cream of the crop. I found myself wondering about auditions they went through to get their jobs. I found myself wondering about any spouses they have left behind at home, waiting to hear how the night went. I wondered what they would say about this night’s show… what could have been done to make it better for THEM.

Because for the audience? It was almost magical. I text messaged with my husband, sending him photos via cell phone through the evening. I was so blown away, and couldn’t wait to fill him in on it until after the show. (So I didn’t wait. Ha!)

I found myself being transported to a time that I never lived. “Moonlight Serenade,” “In the Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Goody Goody,” “Elmer’s Tune,” and countless others. A medley of armed forces tunes, during which veterans were honored and invited to stand, brought tears to the eyes. For two hours (minus one short intermission), the band entertained our small crowd.

Glenn Miller Orchestra

I wondered if there would be vocalists, and there were. Brian Hemstock and Valerie Duke each took turns singing songs of yesteryear. I found myself appreciating every word and lyric more than usual. These fantastic singers who sing for the love of the music, not for the fame.

“Taylor Swift, eat your heart out,” I thought as Valerie nailed one particular note.  You don’t need costumes and video walls to put on a great performance. You just need confidence and talent and poise.

The night ended with a gorgeous rendition of “America the Beautiful.” The standing ovation, small as it was, was well deserved. I wanted to stand ON my chair to applaud. But I thought the powers that be at CISD might frown on it.

As we left, one woman commented that she almost didn’t come due to the cold. But she couldn’t have been happier than she braved the elements to come out.

I am SOOO hoping they come close to Nashville some day. My husband and I might have to drive to Chattanooga later this year otherwise! If you get a chance to see them? GO! Check out their tour schedule at http://www.glennmillerorchestra.com/itinerary.html and go like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/glennmillerorchestra.

OH? By the way. Those $10 tickets? A steal. The show was priceless.

Thanks for coming to little ol’ Cameron, Texas, Glenn Miller Orchestra! Come back some time. (Or… you know… Nashville would rock, too. teehee)