Riverton’s jazz band gearing up for the August show


By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

Between upbeat music and period-clad singers and dancers, a time traveler landing at the Draper Amphitheater on August 20 or 21 might think they arrived in the 1940s. On these evenings, the Draper Arts Council will present “Dancing In The Stars: A Big Band Tribute”.

Singers and dancers, accompanied by the Riverton Jazz Band, will perform a variety of songs from the “Great American Songbook”. Spectators are also encouraged to stand up and dance. “We usually have people dressing up and dancing,” producer Shauna Call said. “We are reserving the dance floor for the public.

“Dancing In The Stars: A Big Band Tribute” has grown in popularity over the years. The show is “a coalition of singers, dancers and the band,” singer and director Valaura Arnold said. “It’s all of us, creating together.”

“The Big Band Tribute has become something that I’m very passionate about,” exclaimed Arnold. “I love the Big Band and this era of music. These songs just speak to people. She noted that music has an appeal that spans generations.

Kerrie Neu, pianist and president of the Riverton Jazz Band, welcomes the opportunity to “share our appreciation for jazz and Big Band standards. We want to promote this love of music among the youngest. Neu also explained how music invites the elderly to take a trip down memory lane. “They might remember dancing, having a glint in their eyes,” she said. “It brings back memories.”

A record number of people auditioned for this year’s production. “Between the band, the singers and the dancers, we’ll have about 100 performers,” Arnold said.

The production team changed things this year to accommodate the number of singers. “We’re going to do more of a pre-show with people singing along with pre-recorded tracks,” Call explained. The pre-show performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will continue while spectators arrive.

In addition, there will be more group numbers than in past years. “We have so many artists, we can do a lot of trios,” Arnold said. The music of the Andrews Sisters suits this production perfectly. “We’re doing some that bring back patriotic feelings, like ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ and ‘Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy’,” she added.

Singers and dancers will be costumed in 1940s style outfits. “They will be dressed new for whatever the song requires,” said Arnold.

The program will also feature Big Band hits such as “In the Mood” and “Sing, Sing, Sing” and Broadway classics like “My Funny Valentine” and “Almost Like Being In Love”. More recent songs, “It had Better Be Tonight” and “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé, will also be performed.

Some songs will receive new interpretations. “We’re doing a new arrangement of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’,” said Kerrie Neu. “We are delighted to be able to present this one this year. When Valaura sings ‘Feeling Good’ it’s a lot of fun!

Neu has been playing with the Riverton Jazz Band for 13 years. She mentioned the nonprofit status of the organization and noted that every musician is a volunteer. As with so many other performing arts groups, the pandemic has prevented members from practicing and performing together. “I am so grateful for the dedication of the band members,” Neu said. “We’re so excited to get the ball rolling. “

“We hope people are just ready to go out and enjoy live music again,” Shauna Call said.

The Draper Arts Council will present “Dancing In The Stars: A Big Band Tribute” August 20-21 at the Draper Amphitheater. The pre-show begins at 7:30 pm The Draper Amphitheater is located at 944 Vestry Road. Tickets will go on sale two weeks before opening night. For more information call 385-351-9468 or visit the Draper Arts Council website at www.draperartscouncil.org.

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