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Draper Journal

Dance under the stars at Big Band Tribute concert

Aug 28, 2018 03:47PM ● By Jana Klopsch

A singer channels Frank Sinatra in a past production of Draper Arts Council’s Big Band Tribute. (Photo courtesy Valaura Arnold/Draper Arts Council)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

As the song “Fly Me to the Moon” goes, “Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.” Draper Arts Council invites audience members to dance under the moon and stars at their annual Big Band Tribute concert, Sept. 7 and 8 at the Draper Amphitheatre. “Fly Me to the Moon” is just one of the many pop standards of yesteryear which will be performed by Riverton Jazz Band along with talented singers and dancers from across northern Utah. 

This year’s concert, titled “Dancing in the Stars,” will be a little different in that the organizers have decided to include a few newer songs which are in the spirit of the big band and swing era. “Feeling Good” and “Sway” by Michael Buble will be part of the program. “The fun thing about this music is that it keeps coming back again,” said director Valaura Arnold. “Modern musicians keep re-doing it because it’s just great music!”  

The Riverton Jazz Band will play a pre-show concert starting at 7:30 p.m., and audience members are encouraged to get up and dance. A dance floor will be installed in front of the Draper Amphitheatre stage. The concert itself, featuring singers in period dress and some choreographed dance numbers, will begin at 8:30 p.m. Just as in the clubs and music halls of the 1940s and ’50s, audience members can dance during the on-stage entertainment. 

“We want people to come and dance and listen to all the great music,” said Arnold.  Styles of dance will include swing, waltz and the jitterbug along with samba and cha-cha.  The program features big-band standards such as “In the Mood” and “Sing, Sing, Sing,” in addition to favorites popularized by Frank Sinatra like “Under My Skin” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”  

Singers and dancers from all over the Wasatch Front auditioned for the show. There are 48 people in the cast, not including the musicians. Producer Shauna Call explained, “We’re trying to involve even more people from the community.” To that end, she is contacting dance teams from local high schools and middle schools to perform swing and jazz dance routines for one or two numbers.  

Jay Rindlisbacher, president of Riverton Jazz Band, looks forward to the Big Band Tribute concert every year. Rindlisbacher, who plays alto saxophone as well as clarinet, said Riverton Jazz Band has been performing at the concert almost since it began six years ago. The first time they played the concert, “It was fun and we blended together,” said Rindlisbacher. “It went so smoothly that we’ve done it ever since.” 

Riverton Jazz Band was formed when Rindlisbacher and some brass and woodwind players from the Riverton Metropolitan Orchestra decided to create their own jazz band.  The group was officially incorporated in 2009. The all-volunteer group, which has 18 members, performs for veterans programs, care centers, weddings and schools. The band participated in the Midvale Harvest Days parade last month. 

The music of the big-band era is beloved by singers, dancers, musicians and audiences of all ages. “It has a really good beat and feel to it,” said Call. “It makes you want to move.”  Rindlisbacher credits the ongoing popularity of the music of the 1940s to “the beautiful melodies and harmonies in music of that era.” His father, he said, would always say, “Good music will last forever and will always be around.” 

The Draper Arts Council’s Big Band Tribute concert will be presented Sept. 7 and 8. The pre-concert show begins at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for kids age 12 and under. To purchase tickets, please visit or call 385-351-9468.