• October 24, 2014

Swing band plays old tunes, modern hits at retirement community

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Posted: Sunday, July 3, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - When Glenn Miller recorded his version of the classic song "Little Brown Jug" in 1939, "Gone With The Wind" was a hit film, John Steinbeck had just published 'The Grapes of Wrath," and Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his second term as president.

Recorded for RCA Bluebird, the song was a huge success for Miller's orchestra, becoming one of their most well-known hits.

When the Swingtime Big Band played it on Saturday at the Rosewood Retirement Community in Harker Heights, the song was still a big hit for residents who remember a time when the music of conductors like Miller, Count Basie and Duke Ellington ruled the airwaves.

The residents, including some family and friends, were treated to a concert by Swingtime, a group of local musicians who tour regularly throughout Central Texas, performing jazz, swing and even some modern hits. The last time Swingtime Big Band performed at Rosewood Retirement Community was in February 2010.

The band played classic swing and jazz songs including "The Woodchopper's Ball" by Woody Herman, Harry James' "You Made Me Love You," and some contemporary numbers, like Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amore."

The performance also included another Miller classic, "Pennsylvania 6-5000," which featured an audience sing-a-long of the famous chorus lines.

"We like to keep memories alive," said Max Hill, an administrator for Rosewood. "What better way to do that than through music?"

"This type of music is so connected to memory," he said.

Lois Kea couldn't keep still in her seat, as she rocked to the beat during the show.

"I've always liked jazz," she said, "This is that big-band, swing beat."

Kea has been a resident at Rosewood for five years. She said the music brought back "a lot of old memories," especially of the times when she would go to dances or sock hops during her school days.

"We wore big, full skirts of all different colors," Kea said, describing the way she dressed when she went dancing.

"You'd find a date when you got there," she joked.

Kea said she does listen to some modern music, but "only if it has a good beat."

For Joyce Trost, who has lived at Rosewood for 12 years, the afternoon was a time to reminisce with the music of her childhood.

"Those were happier times. There were more beautiful songs then," Trost said. "I wish my daughter had grown up back then."

Trost said she has a strong connection to the music, and is a regular caller on the request line for the "Simply Beautiful" radio show, hosted by Charlie St. George on KNCT-FM. The show, which features classic songs from the Big Band era and more, is popular among many of Rosewood's residents.

Trost said she calls St. George and makes regular requests, including her favorite song "When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World." A staple of crooner Vaughn Monroe, the song was a popular hit during World War II.

She said when she thinks of the world's bad times, she wishes she could play the tune for everyone and "see the lights go on all over the world again."

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548.

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