Big Band Sound presented at the music festival | Local

Mount Union’s local Big Band Sound Inc. will be featured as part of The Brown Big Band Weekend from 12-4 p.m. Saturday, April 23 at Williams Valley High School in Tower City.

The band plays popular songs spanning six decades with the solid sound of the Big Band approach. Jazz, swing, blues, rock, dance favorites and some newly composed and arranged charts to entertain the audience. The group performs for concerts, dances, wedding receptions and community events. The band is well known for crowd pleasers throughout central Pennsylvania.

Admission to the show is $10.

The festival itself begins Thursday, April 21 with a 7 p.m. film festival at the Pine Grove Theater, 213 S. Tulpehocken St., Pine Grove. Free entry. Events continue with Les Brown Big Band dancing at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 22 at the Tower City American Legion, 2 Clarks Valley Road, Tower City (admission is $10) and a Cult of Music celebration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 22. 24, at St. Peter United Church of Christ, 427 Dietrich Ave., Tower City.

The Les Brown Festival has celebrated the music of Les Brown since the dedication of the state plaque in 2006. The annual festival, with the exception of pandemic years, features music from area bands, school jazz and big bands, as well as artists like impressionist Dean Martin and the singing trio Manhattan Dolls reflecting the songs of the Andrews Sisters.

The festival turned into a weekend celebration with a movie at the Pine Grove Theater (this year’s movie features Les Brown Jr.), a dance with a big band orchestra, an afternoon of music and a music service.

Les Brown was born in Reinerton, where his father was a well-known music teacher who influenced so many local children, including the Brown family. They were also known for their fine bakery in Tower City.

As a college-aged man, Les attended Duke University where he started his first band. They decided they needed to finish college, so the band disbanded after a while. After his Duke years, Les began to form his own band. Hard work and diligent effort have helped the group move forward.

Later, as touring dwindled in number of days on the road, Les became a studio band for Bob Hope’s radio and television shows. He performed the same service for the Dean Martin Show. Les and his band toured with Bob Hope in the many Army posts, including several visits to Vietnam.

Les is credited with being one of the driving forces in securing the annual Grammy Awards on national television. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized their band as the longest running band in popular music history in 1996.

He has always remembered his home region and his hometown remembers him with the annual Les Brown Festival which has grown into a four-day celebration of Big Band music. For more information about the festival and the artists, visit www.lesbrownfest.org.

Through the efforts of the Tower-Porter Rotary Club, the state plaque is a strong reminder of the Brown family and their contributions to the region, as well as the nation.

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