The Vintage Swing Band kicked off 2023 with a spectacular performance at the renowned Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 4th. We were honored to be invited to play at their “Repeal of Prohibition Ball”, commemorating the end of the liquor ban. The event transported everyone back to the glamorous 1930s, with our band embodying the spirit of that era both musically and visually. The Iron Horse Hotel hosts this spectacular event annually, transforming their lobby into a captivating walk back in time. The hotel's name pays homage to both the nearby railroad and the iconic Harley Davidson Museum, drawing connections between the powerful steam locomotives of the past and the roaring motorcycles of today. This charming blend of nostalgia makes the hotel a perfect setting for a Repeal of Prohibition Ball.

Nestled in a corner of the grand room, the VSB band prepared to deliver a memorable performance. Adding to the excitement, the hotel had enlisted several talented swing dancers, who were already showcasing their moves and priming the audience for a night of exhilarating dance. The crowd embraced the spirit of the 1930s, arriving in prohibition-era attire, setting the stage for an immersive celebration. As the clock struck 9, the band launched into the lively tune of "Charleston," instantly igniting the crowd's enthusiasm. From there, we transitioned from one vibrant song to another, ensuring the dance floor remained alive with palpable energy throughout the night.

Our repertoire featured an array of beloved classics from the 20s and 30s, including "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "Makin' Whoopee", “Blue Skies”, and "I Get a Kick Out of You”. Kathy made her solo vocal debut with delightful renditions of "Anything Goes" and "It's Only a Paper Moon”. The band also treated everyone to the timeless favorites "In The Mood", "Basin Street Blues", “Fever”, and "Satin Doll".

The band included trumpeters Paul, Jim, Todd, and Larry. The ‘bone section had Armando, Ethan, Dave, and Matt. The saxes featured Tim, Jack, JJ, Doug, and Dan. Our rhythm section was Alex, Jim, Louie, and Mike. Amy and Kathy sang, our conductor, Eric, led with passion, while Bruce served as our charismatic frontman. The meticulous sound team was led by John and Todd, and our planning and logistics were masterfully handled by Pam.

A highlight of the night came when we unleashed the mesmerizing "Tuxedo Junction," which brought forth a joyous spectacle. The dancers performed the “Shim Sham”, swaying to the driving beat of the song, captivating everyone's attention. The vibe was infectious, prompting them to request an encore, and we happily obliged, delivering "Tuxedo Junction" once again later in the night. The entire hotel resonated with the exhilarating rhythm of that magnificent song and the skillful dancers.

As the bars closed their doors at midnight, we were asked to perform a few more songs. The crowd, ever devoted, didn't miss a beat, reveling in every note. When we concluded our final song, the room erupted with a resounding chant of "One More Song", a beloved request that every band cherishes. Adding to the ensemble's versatility, our conductor, Eric, mesmerized the audience (and surprised the band), responding with his first ever vocal performance of "Minnie the Moocher". It was an extraordinary moment, and the perfect culmination to a remarkable night.

The event manager bid us farewell with the promising words, "We’ll see you next year!" We cannot speak highly enough of the Iron Horse Hotel - a splendid venue with exceptional hospitality, remarkable food, and a wonderful team to collaborate with. We eagerly anticipate our return next February, where we hope to welcome a fabulous crowd for another unforgettable Repeal of Prohibition Ball.

The Vintage Swing Band recently put on a very special concert for the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. We were asked to perform a USO show in the same style as the original show back in 1942. The VSB loves these kinds of performances - celebrating some American history with the Big Band sounds of the 1920s to the 1940s – and this was no exception. What a fabulous day, filled with nostalgia and appreciation for this bygone era.

While the USO event took place at the Hoard History Museum, many other local historical societies of Jefferson County participated in the exhibit and event, including Johnson Creek Historical Society, Jefferson Historical Society Museum, Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society, Waterloo Area Historical Society and Bark River Woods Historical Society. Premier Bank, Jones Dairy Farm, and Hubbleton Brewing Company also helped to sponsor the event.

The WWII Exhibition began at 4pm, with some food and drink tents serving guests and several indoor and outdoor exhibits showcasing military vehicles and our men in uniform. The Hoard Museum staff arranged for an hour-long free swing dance class hosted by Ready 2 Dance, a local dance studio. Although it was quite warm outside (by 3pm, the temps had reached a balmy 91 degrees), people started arriving in groups with their lawn chairs, ready to enjoy a great evening.

Bruce began the show promptly at 6pm by introducing our first song, "Sentimental Journey," setting the stage for what we hoped would be a captivating journey for our audience through the music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. When the first few notes of our first song began, the entire lawn of our venue had (thankfully) become pleasantly shaded. Throughout the show, Bruce and Amy took turns sharing trivia with the audience about this important time in our nation’s history and the music that defined this era. Amy provided commentary on the famous Andrews Sisters, offered information about the band's background and mission, and hosted a costume contest for Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter look-alikes. Bruce shared anecdotes about the history of the USO and highlighted the remarkable contributions of Glen Miller and Bob Hope.

The band’s performance was top-notch, playing favorites including “American Patrol”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Take the A Train”, “Tuxedo Junction”, “A String of Pearls”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, and “In the Mood.” The band’s performance was stellar featuring Gavin, Christine, Todd, and Larry on trumpet. Peter, Ethan, Dave, Nicole, and Matt showcased their talent on the trombone, while Tim, JJ, Chris, Jack, and Jay mesmerized the audience with their silky saxophone skills. Our exceptional rhythm section, including Alex, Dan, Jim, and Louie kept the band in perfect sync.

This memorable USO event would not have been possible without our dedicated setup and support team, consisting of John, Pam, Todd, Lou, Tony, Ellen, and Margaret. Each played a vital role behind the scenes, ensuring a flawless experience for everyone. Without a doubt, this extraordinary performance was the result of a true team effort.

Among the evening's highlights was the much-anticipated premiere of our own Andrews Sisters tribute act. Amy, Kathy, and Karen, supported by our vocal mentor, Jim, have been diligently working for months to mimic the sisters’ beautiful harmonies. They also meticulously coordinated their attire, paying homage to the fashion style of Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne. To kickstart their performance of the Andrews Sisters' most popular song, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," Eric, our talented conductor as well as a skilled trumpet player, began with the famous bugle solo. The ladies then took over, capturing the hearts of the crowd who thoroughly enjoyed the rendition.

The crowd was irresistibly drawn into all of the music, dancing and singing along with infectious energy. The undeniable allure of the outdoor performance attracted even more spectators than anticipated! We surpassed the initial estimate by reaching over 265 attendees, demonstrating the overwhelming appeal and resonance of the music, and creating an atmosphere perfect for the museum’s USO exhibition. Overall it was a wonderful event, and we are so thankful for our new partnership with the Fort Atkinson community!