Musicians have been amplifying social issues – causes from human rights to the environment – through their music since the beginning, so it seems fitting that the Swingin’ Door Big Band is kicking off its 2022 season on Earth Day with a performance at the Swing into Spring fundraiser at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay.
The 1930s-style big-band ensemble is an offshoot of the Peninsula Symphonic Band and comprises volunteer musicians from around Door County. Performances throughout the season raise funds for various community scholarships.
“The April 22 benefit for the youth of Prince of Peace Church is the first of the season for the Swingin’ Door Big Band, and really the first major performance of the ensemble since pre-COVID,” said director Jason Palmer.
Jamie Palmer – Jason’s wife and one of the band’s vocalists – said she pestered her husband for years to start a big band, but “it just wasn’t on his agenda.”
Then one afternoon, shortly after Jason had taken on the director role for the Peninsula Symphonic Band, Jamie stumbled upon a drawer in the symphonic music library labeled “Jazz.”
“I was so excited,” she said, recalling the serendipitous discovery.
In her mind, it was the only sign she needed that the community would benefit from a big band. So, during the summer of 2019, the Swingin’ Door Big Band, a 17-member Glenn Miller–style ensemble with three vocalists who call themselves Company B, took the stage. Then the coronavirus pandemic put performances on a two-year hiatus.
“The whole idea of the World War II big-band era was centered so much around bringing people together – bringing women together to help in the factories’ work, the whole idea of people recycling, just bringing the whole country together,” Jamie said. “To be able to come together and play again after such a tense and stressful time, it’s therapeutic.”
In addition to live music, the event will feature dinner prepared by Smokin’ Tom’s Team BBQ. Attendees are also encouraged to wear colors that reflect the sub-theme of Earth Day: brown for soil and animals, green for trees and grass, bright colors for flowers, yellow or orange for the sun, or blue for the sky and ocean. Members of the Climate Change Coalition will attend to hand out young trees as part of the coalition’s Big Plant initiative.
The doors at Prince of Peace, 1756 Michigan St. in Sturgeon Bay, will open at 5:45 pm; starters will be served at 6 pm; and the main course will be served at 6:30 pm, when the band will begin its set.
Purchase tickets ($35 each or $180 for a table of six) in advance by calling 920.743.7750, emailing [email protected] or visiting bit.ly/nyg22. Funds raised will benefit the youth of Prince of Peace who are attending the National Youth Gathering in Houston this summer.