( November 1, 2017)
Author: Angie Landsverk, Waupaca Now
The SwingTime Big Band’s Saturday, Nov. 4, concert at the Gerold Opera House will be the orchestra’s final one.
“We have a great following. People really appreciate what we do, and I love doing it,” said Severin Thompson, the band’s leader.
However, the logistics of getting the 18-piece orchestra together is not easy.
“This year in particular was very tough to keep people together,” he said. “It’s just time.”
The Appleton-based band started 10 years ago.
“I was one of the founding members. It became my band early on,” Thompson said.
In addition to leading the band, Thompson sings in it and plays some featured trumpet parts.
Members of The Swingtime Big Band are a combination of professional musicians and talented amateurs.
They play music from the ‘20s to the ‘60s, although the band lately added music of the ‘70s.
Thompson said music of that era was added because of the band’s connection to the Old Glory Honor Flight program.
The SwingTime Big Band has played at Lambeau Field for Old Glory Honor flight fundraisers and also at Appleton International Airport when veterans return home from their trip to Washington, D.C.
Thompson said the band played at the return of 40 of those flights.
The Old Glory Honor Flight program is known for flying World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. and recently started flying Vietnam veterans there as well.
That is why the band started throwing in some pieces from the 1970s, Thompson said.
The orchestra has also played at the Milwaukee Art Museum, at charity events for children who have cancer, at private parties and at other concert venues.
While Thompson loves being part of it, he said 10 years is enough.
“I wish I had been born 30 years earlier when you could make a living doing it. There are few big bands anymore,” he said.
Thompson decided a few months ago this weekend’s concert would be the last one for The Swingtime Big Band.
He is torn in many directions.
Thompson owns Wega Motors, as well as a property management business. He also continues to do some acting and modeling in Chicago.
Something had to give.
The SwingTime Big Band’s Nov. 4 performance in Weyauwega will begin at 7 p.m.
The doors of the opera house will open at 6 p.m. for cocktail hour, with complimentary appetizers.
He said the band will play music from the 1920s to the 1970s.
The concert will also include a guest appearance by Ron Reynolds, of Waupaca.
He will sing one tune with the band.
“It’s going to be a killer night. I have high school friends from 40-some years ago driving up from Illinois,” Thompson said. “The turnout’s going to be spectacular. There’s going to be a dance floor.”
For the past several years, the band has performed each spring and fall, at the Gerold Opera House.
“Tickets are selling quite quickly,” said Kathy Fehl, of Wega Arts.
Wega Arts is the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the opera house.
Tickets for the concert are $20 and available online at wegaarts.org and also at the Bookcellar, in Waupaca.
Fehl recommends those wanting to attend the concert purchase tickets in advance and arrive early on Saturday evening.
It will be general seating for the concert, with seating available on the sides and balcony as well.
“All the seats in the house are good,” she said.
Thompson encourages people to see the band at its final concert.
“We’re going to have a great show,” he said.