Swing Shift Orchestra

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The Swing Shift Orchestra
Swing Shift Orchestra.jpg
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Background Information

Origin

St Clair Shores

Genre

Swing, Rhythm & Blues, Pop, Jazz

Years Active

1993 - Present

Members


*

Trombones
Ken Grabowski, Dave Coleman, Steve Braun, John Gonthier, Duane R. Stachler
Trumpets
Steve Poirier, Frank Imbrunone, Ed Parrine, Jim Smith, Jack Wolak
Saxophones
Craig Schley, Lynne Henry, Tracy Chesher, Dan Chesher, Paul Alef
Percussion/Piano/Bass
Art Dries, Bill Fierst, Bill Baird, Pete Dudley, Greg Adamus
Vocalists
Geoff Watz, Steffi Roche, Lisa Watz

Website

swingshiftorchestra.org

About

The Swing Shift Orchestra is a SE Michigan’s ‘big band’ whose talented musicians are dedicated to producing the highest musical quality and authenticity of the big band era. The band performs regularly at both public and private events. The band was formed in 1993 and has been a mainstay on the Detroit musical scene with concerts, festivals, recordings, wedding receptions, fundraisers, and many other special occasions.

History

Co-founded by Diane Trombley and Lynne Henry, The Swing Shift Orchestra started in 1993 as a result of a stage band comprised of members belonging to The Grosse Pointe Community Concert Band. The stage band performed a few numbers at GPCCB concerts. Ultimately, Diane then a saxophonist in the band, suggested that the up-and-coming swing band use her basement as a rehearsal site. Diane and Lynne Henry approached Ralph Miller, the concert band director, who loaned the group music, and approximately 27 stage band members began practicing in Diane's basement. Chuck Willard, a talented trumpet player with extensive experience performing with and leading big bands, rehearsed the band.

Lynne Henry received permission from her pastor to hold rehearsals at the church. A church member asked the band to perform for her husband's surprise birthday party to be held in her basement. The pay was free food! In April of 1994, a public dance at the church was held; it was such a success that three more dances followed. Chuck said that the band had progressed to the stage that an “owner” would be necessary. Lynne Henry assumed that responsibility.

Diane and Lynne decided that the band needed a name. It seemed that all the great big bands were named after a man. A trumpet player in the band, Michael Lawrence, had a name that both Lynne and Diane liked and hence The Michael Lawrence Orchestra was born. About a year later, when Lawrence entered the armed forces, another change was mandated. Many names were debated, and the band members finally voted on the present name, The Swing Shift Orchestra.

Diane decided she would like to try singing with the band in about 1996. Initially, she would only sing one song, “It's Only a Paper Moon.” What a set of pipes! Eventually, Diane decided to devote her performances with the band exclusively to singing. Lynne assumed Diane's position as second alto saxophone player.

While the band has had changes in membership, leaders, and rehearsal sites, Lynne continues to own and manage the band. Venue types were expanded to include concerts, parties, balls, weddings, and theme shows. Over the years, the band’s bookings have increased dramatically.

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