Elkin Big Band turns 40

The Elkin Big Band will perform their 40th anniversary concert at the Reeves Theater Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Elkin Big Band will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a special concert at the Reeves Theater at 7 p.m., June 30. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Reeves Downtown Music School. Tickets range from $10 to $20 with $5 tickets available for students.

The Elkin Big Band’s first-ever gig was in February 1982. The band was founded by Larry Irwin and Randy Tulbert, who continue to perform with the band. Much of the music first performed and which continues to be performed by the Elkin Big Band came from arrangements by the late Roy Russell, manager of the former Elkin High School Stage Band in the early 1970s.

“The band has played hundreds of shows since then,” band manager Michael Beres said. From the Elk Club and retirement homes to Coley Hall and Sparta VFW, the Elkin Big Band has performed throughout the region and now call the Reeves Theater their home base.

Beres said the band has seen something of a revival over the past few years, growing from a band of seven or eight to now a full 18-piece.

“We’re playing music at a much higher level now than the band has ever played in the past,” Beres said.

Thursday’s concert attendees can expect a high-energy show featuring some of classic American jazz favorites.

“This group has always based its imprint on classic American big band jazz in the vein of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington,” Beres said.

“We also play more modern stuff, jazz that was written in the 70s and 80s,” he added. “We will mix instrumental jazz and vocal jazz. For anyone “of a certain age”, many of the tunes will be very familiar.

It will be a laid-back atmosphere and “screams and screams,” Beres predicted.

He noted Surry County’s “rich musical tradition” of bluegrass and old times, but said “there’s nothing quite like it” in the area when 18-year-old tuxedoed jazz musicians and the singer Teresa Jasper take the stage.

Beres, also a board member of the Reeves Downtown Music School, said part of the group’s mission is to help raise funds for groups such as the school of music, the Grace Clinic and others and in general to support the community.

“We see Elkin’s music scene as a very powerful driver of downtown development and a draw to our community,” he said. “It fits with local artists creating art in their shops for sale on Main Street. This fits the restaurant scene. This is another reason to come downtown. A thriving downtown, which Elkin is really developing right now, is critical to our long-term success in not only attracting people to the area, but also keeping people in the area.

“In the Big Band, we see ourselves as sort of ambassadors for that goal,” Beres added. “Part of that is supporting the arts community and music environment, the Reeves Theater and downtown. The other part is tying into music education in public schools, which has been definitively shown to increase SAT scores, college admissions, there’s nothing music doesn’t. not improve for our children in school.

Fundraising efforts for the Downtown School of Music will help provide free instrument rentals and tuition for students.

“The model we’re trying to develop at school, with the support of fundraising, is to be able to offer any child free music lessons if they come from an environment where they can’t afford it,” Beres said.

For more information about the Elkin Big Band, visit elkinbigband.com. For tickets to Thursday’s show and more information about the Reeves Theater and the Reeves Downtown School of Music, visit ReevesTheater.com.

Kitsey Burns Harrison can be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @news_shewrote.

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