Glenn Miller Without The Tin Hat

Glenn Miller Without The Tin Hat

The most horrendous war ever to come to our shores happened sixty seven years ago. It was of course, the Second World War. Nightly disruptions, blitzes, shortage, losses and fear were what the majority of the population at that time, put up with. It is always humbling when one meets someone who lived through such a challenging time. I don’t know if we could do it today. Let’s hope we never have to find out.

Of course there was always time for entertainment and a little relief. On to the wartime stage came our comedians, like Arthur Askey or Tommy Handley with his ITMA programmes, our singers like Vera Lynne or Anne Shelton. However, right at the top of the tree, it just had to be the seductive sounds from across the pond, Glenn Miller and his Big Band Sound. Bringing a little razzamatazz to a tough time, Glenn Miller created a most daring sound and that encouraged daring behaviour. But so what there was a war on. There is warmness and intimacy of this amazing transatlantic sound and it must have stormed over here faster and certainly more welcome, than what was coming over from the other side.

This was a time, after all, of dark uncertainty. Girls would go out with the G.I.’s stationed up at High Ercall and the local dance rooms like Morris’s Ballroom which is in the town, would be alive with couples doing the jitterbug and dancing all night. What they were doing was considered possibly a little risqué for the morals of the day, but so what, the man you are dancing with may return he may not. These were after all very scary times, times to let yourself go whenever you could. So Saturdays everywhere across Britain the Glenn Miller Sound was bringing escape to the population and the dance halls were alive with the sound of swing.

The amazing thing Miller’s combination still works now as a delighted audience discovered tonight, at a tea time performance form Ray Mc.Vay’s, Glen Miller Orchestra at a packed theatre Severn.  Started in 1988 Ray sought permission from the Glenn Miller estate to form an English based Glenn Miller Orchestra. This is not a tribute act, this a band brilliantly staying true to everything that Miller had created. Lovingly, note for perfect caramel note was reproduced for an audience that looked as some may have had first hand memories of the times we were revisiting.

The band were having a great time.  This was clearly a bunch of guys who deeply respected their musical director and deeply respected each other. Backed by the fantastic Moonlight Serenaders, it was though each note that played had been carefully polished, like a diamond ensuring it would fit in and sparkle. There wasn’t a note missed and everyone of them was a diamond. The beautiful harmonies of the Moonlighters would take some beating and their lead singers were great, Colin Anthony and Catherine Sykes sang so beautifully together and their voices could not have been better suited to the era. Catherine was of course very beautiful, as Miller’s  ladies would have been too. In the second half when they returned to the stage in military uniform they looked amazing and sounded even more so.

Times change, fashions change not much stands the test of time. I put it to you that the best things will come round and round again. Maybe we won’t see dance halls packed full of jitterbugging couples anymore, it took a wild set of circumstances to bring the people so close but I bet everyone has a little slot in their CD collection for this sort of music. And as a reviewer I would ask, if you haven’t got one why not?

Check this Orchestra out and see that we had many ways to win the war but none of it would have been possible without the ability to laugh to dance and to have fun. Morale can’t win a war alone but thanks to Glenn Miller it made things marginally easier. Now it’s over to you Ray McVay you and your Orchestra must keep the sound alive.

This a four star review.

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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