Band to swing through city

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Staff Writer

Hurry up, all music lovers hoping to snag tickets to Friday’s concert by the Tar River Swing Band.
The concert, scheduled for 8 p.m. at Washington’s Turnage Theater, appears on its way to selling out.
At least 351 tickets have been sold so far, said Scotty Henley, executive director of the Turnage Theaters Foundation.
Balcony tickets were still available as of Monday afternoon. These tickets cost $10 each, said Katherine Buchholz, box office manager.
For more information, call the Turnage at 252-975-1711 or visit the theater’s website,
“It’s a nice Christmas present and a good way for us to close out our season until January comes up,” Henley said of the concert.
This is the Tar River band’s second appearance at the Turnage, and the bandleader said last year’s Christmas-season performance was nearly sold out.
The 18-member orchestra — not including two vocalists — plays under the direction of Jonathan Wacker, an associate professor of music at East Carolina University.
Part of the band’s appeal is that its members are drawn from the area, Wacker related.
“It’s just a wide range of people from the community who love music, like to play and are excited about playing big band jazz,” he said. “While it may not be the skill level of the Woody Herman (ghost) band, who’s on the road all year long, it’s a very good band.”
Among the band’s ranks are a dentist, an auto mechanic, a couple of school teachers and others, he said.
The band rehearses every week, except during the summer, he added.
Wacker, who teaches percussion at ECU, said that, before coming to Greenville, he played casinos in Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nev.
Among the big names he played with are some that would be recognizable to many baby boomers and their predecessors — names including Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dionne Warwick, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, John Denver, Debbie Reynolds and George Burns.
The Tar River aggregation compares favorably with the professional groups with which he has been associated, Wacker suggested.
“We’re playing at a level that is not embarrassing to someone like myself who’s had a career playing with some of the biggest names in the business,” he said.
The list of tunes on Friday’s program runs the gamut from “Jingle Bells” to “For Once in My Life” to “Good King Wenceslas” to “And the Angels Sing” and other standards.
“It’s a great, fun show,” said Wacker.