Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Swing Week...and then some

We're setting a record this week for "When Swing Was King" presentations. Though we continue with our regular rota of thirteen facilities a month, June's schedule somehow worked out for one week with six presentations and another (this week) with seven.

When you throw in daily blogging, a shift of prayer and sidewalk counseling at the abortion mill, a bunch of correspondence, getting out the monthly LifeSharer letter (writing, printing, mailing), and a few other items too, that's a full week indeed.

But, as always, the "When Swing Was King" presentations provide us with as much energy as we expend. And not only through the program itself but the visiting with residents before and after.

Yesterday, for instance, our first gig was followed by great conversations with a number of residents. But I spent probably 15 minutes with Lola talking about her husband, her teaching career, and her childhood in Connecticut. She was warm, cheerful, and very interesting. As we were closing our conversation (Claire was packing things up and talking to other women across the room), Lola said, "This music is so nice. It's just wonderful to hear it again and to see the wonderful pictures you show. Some of them today were so funny too. You know I've been here every time you've come and I've loved it each time. But today was special in being able to have a long visit with you."

That's a key part of the ministry. The music is fabulous. And the pictures are great. Even the commentary that is part of "When Swing Was King" is interesting and fun. But it's the opportunity to chat, to make friends, to invest a bit in each others lives that make the outreach so meaningful to Claire and I...and we hope to the residents of the nursing homes and senior living places where we go.

Our second program yesterday was another case in point. Going from afternoon to evening performances have increased the audience numbers substantially at this place and we had a record turnout last night. There was a lot of crowd reaction: laughter, conversation, a big burst of spontaneous applause at the conclusion of Bob Crosby and the Bobcats' version of "Tiger Rag," and very enthusiastic compliments and thank-yous. And because of lengthy conversations afterward with two residents (one a fellow who rarely misses our program and another lady who has just moved from Minnesota to this facility), we didn't get away until an hour after the show ended.

So, yes; it's a full week (two more presentations today) but we're as delighted as ever to be "in the swing" with this nifty ministry.

By the way, I posted a couple of weeks ago the song list from this month but the actual June list turned out to be quite a bit different.  Making a few changes after the first performance or two is not uncommon. For even though I do the best I can in creating the program from month to month, it's not until those first road tests in front of audiences that we get the best idea of how things are working out. Usually, it's just some timing adjustments, exchanging a few photos, correcting a misspelling, etc. But this month was really wild. In fact, I ended up trading in more than half of the songs for others better liked by our "test audiences."

Reception to the initial program was okay (except for a definitely negative response to Louis Prima) but we aim a lot higher than okay. And, thankfully, the revised June 2013 volume has been a much stronger, more evocative program. Here it is.

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra
"Caribbean Clipper"

2) Harry James Orchestra (Dick Haymes, vocals)
"Mister Meadowlark"

3) Chick Webb  Orchestra (Ella Fitzgerald, vocals)
"I Can't Stop Loving You"
(Trust me, it's not the song you're thinking of.)

4) Gene Krupa Orchestra
(Photo theme: celebrated sons & daughters of the state)

5) The Ames Brothers (Backed by the Sid Ramin Orchestra)
"Slow Boat To China"

6) Bob Crosby and the Bobcats
"Tiger Rag"

7) Les Elgart Orchestra
"Night and Day"

8) Benny Goodman Orchestra (Art Lund, vocals)
"Blue Skies"

9) Artie Shaw Orchestra
"It Had To Be You"

10) Guy Lombardo Orchestra (Kenny Gardner, vocals)
"You're Driving Me Crazy"
(Photo Theme: classic automobiles from the 30s, 40s, and 50s)

11) Ted Weems Orchestra

12) John Scott Trotter Orchestra
(Bing Crosby and the Williams Brothers, vocals)
"Swingin' On a Star"

Want to join us sometime this month? Catch up on a little pop music history and listen to some great tunes? Take a little sentimental journey back in time? And, of course, do a little visiting with folks that would love some human contact? The schedule is right here.