Local politics aside, the music acts Fort Collins hired for the 4th of July show were all quite good. I had initially intended to head back home (~2 blocks from the park) for food and water refills during the third act, an 80’s cover band, but actually that one turned out to be my favorite.
The first music act for the day was the Poudre River Irregulars, a local jazz band. We arrived at the park partway through their set, so I only heard a few songs, and then not from a very good vantage for taking pictures. It was ~100F, very hot, and not a cloud in the sky, when we arrived, so there were people hovering under the trees near the stage, but if it was not for the nice big speakers on the stage, the number of people listening would have not justified the expense of hiring the band. Nobody was dancing when we arrived, though when I commented on this to my sister, a couple sitting nearby, near enough to hear my comments, slowly migrated out onto the grass for some swing dancing. If I was throwing a swing party, these guys would be high on my list of preferred bands. Not only are they decidedly local (and supporting local musicians is very important), they are highly talented jazz musicians with a lively sound. They perform fairly frequently at Avogadro’s Number, a particularly nifty venue in Fort Collins with good food and lots of live music pretty much daily.
The Colorado Swing Band was up next. I sing in choirs every year, and should be used to hearing porfessional-quality singing from local talent, but it still amazes me every time I hear ‘normal’ people singing really really well. All three of the soloists singing with Colorado Swing were excellent. Rosann Winn was on first, looking the part of a lounge singer as much as one could expect in the heat, though I can’t imagine willingly wearing that red satin dress she was in, on such a warm day. But, she looked nice, and sang beautifully, giving us lovely jazz lounge renditions of such songs as “Don’t Know Why” and “My One and Only Love”. Dave Howard, the second soloist to deck the stage, gave us a round of “Mack the Knife” and one of my favorites (thanks to Paul Byrom’s rendition of it), “Sway”. I’d love to hear Paul’s singing for this one, with that lush big band accompaniment Mr. Howard had, but Dave Howard’s version was enough to force a few couples to their feet again, finally, for more dancing.
The soloist that really roused the somewhat growing crowd was Eric Weedin, who only sang one song, but I’m not sure what else he could have sang to top “What a Wonderful World”, especially as, despite his looking absolutely nothing like Louis Armstrong, Eric seemed to be channeling Mr. Armstrong from the first note he sang, delivering a low gravelly voice that was not at all like his speaking voice seconds earlier. And, I loved his hat. It’s not my style, but it was very stylish and summery. Yes, he admitted afterwards, singing like that did make his throat a bit raw. It was enough of a shock and pleasure though to actually get real applause from all the audience standing around.
And, yes, I did wind up dancing by the end of this second act. The gentleman who was dancing with his wife at the beginning, after my comments to my sister, came over and asked me to dance near the end of the Colorado Swing set. I have not danced swing for years, and it’s been even longer since I danced with someone who really knew how. So I had quite a few extra left feet, and we were the only couple dancing that song, and me in a very bright red skirt, but I am sure I saw a few other people getting into it on the sidelines as they watched us dance, so my awkward and embarrassing turn on the ‘dance floor’ did some good, I hope.
Oh, and apparently there is a contra dancing group in Fort Collins, which meets on Saturdays. I would still rather be learning salsa, flamenco or Irish step, but I suspect I might eventually find myself contra dancing before I graduate and move out of Fort Collins.