Hub Staff

Big BandThe weekend's Canadian Big Band Celebration opened Friday evening at Maple Hall in Port Elgin with PASS (Performing Arts of Saugeen Shores) reviving the 1940s dance pavilion era and setting a scene from the Casino Port Elgin on May 18, 1940 for local singers Samantha Colwell-Castles as Sarah Rose and Jody Robbins as Kay Hunter to perform songs from that era.

Robbins said she used to be an opera singer and was extremely excited as it was her first time appearing in the Canadian Big Band Celebrations.

Friday evening also saw the Friday Night Jazz Pub Crawl throughout Saugeen Shores, with performances at venues in Port Elgin and Southamtpon, including the Royal Canadian Legion, Chester's Bar & Grill, The Wismer House, The Woodpecker and The Queen's Bar & Grill in Port Elgin and The Walker House, Royal Canadian Legion, Outlaw Brew Co., and Duffy's Restaurant and Bar in Southampton.

Saturday's events took place in the Unifor Main Assembly Hall, where the music continued in the afternoon with the Big Event Afternoon Show, celebrating the local pavilions of the area and other dance pavilions from the shores of the Great Lakes from the 1920s to 1960s.

Big Band committee member Debbie Bell said that ticket sales were up for this year's event. “Tickets for the whole weekend have done very well, better than ever,” she said. “I think our numbers are interestingly up when its only been local advertising, other than an interview on CBC, which resulted in people calling, especially from Toronto area.”

Leader of the Canadian Big Band, Charlie Bell who spoke to CBC said the interview went well. “I was nervous but it went well. I talked a little bit about the pavilions and the connection. The music that was presented in the pavilions from the 1930s right through to the 1980s, which is about how long they lasted. It was good. Short and sweet.” He said the phone didn't stop ringing all day afterwards.

The sold out event of approximately 400 on Saturday afternoon saw the dance floor full of people as the Lulu's Band accompanied by the Men in Black Brass performed with a guest appearance from Elvis Presley impersonator, Peter Irwin.

Irwin, who has his own ten piece band and show, Jailhouse Rock said he started out in 1998 by going to the Collingwood Elvis Festival on a dare. “I wasn't even a huge Elvis fan,” he said. “I won first crack and represented Canada in the world championships in 1999 and was a finalist and it just took off from there.”

He said he was really looking forward to performing with the Lulu's Band. “I've watched these guys for years but never got a chance to perform, so I'm looking forward to this.”

The Saturday Evening Big Event, Canadian Big Band Dance featured local vocalists Ethan Salmon and Rebecca Binnendyk as featured guests of the Canadian Big Band, which is comprised of some of Canada's top Jazz and Big Band musicians, including multiple Juno Award winners.

Both Binnendyk, who recently released her full length album, Some Fun out of Life and 17 year old Saugeen District Secondary School student Salmon, each performed individually accompanied by the big band; and also performed a duet.

The Canadian Big Band Celebration came to a close on Sunday with a Sunday Jazz Brunch from Unifor's Executive Chef, Paul Johnston and entertainment from the Jordana Talksy Trio.

Jody Robbins

Bobby Dean Blackburn Friends Wismer House

The lulus band with Peter Irwin

Ethan Salmon and Rebecca Binnendyk