The outdoor concert at Saint Michaels Town Square in Greeley, Colorado was held on a balmy late spring afternoon in May of last year.
To give you a visual picture, the park itself is laid out in the style of the classic Greek open amphitheater, with it’s tiered grassy knolls that form a 145 % angle facing the domed stage like a wee smaller version of the famed Hollywood Bowl.
Now the audience, which was considerable, were decked out in picnic mode, and seemed to be inspired. Maybe that was because of the beautiful weather, but at any rate it was obvious they were (excuse the corn) “in the mood” for a swingin’ experience.
And as for yours truly, this was my first show with the John Mills Orchestra, and my first big band performance since having left Los Angeles nine months earlier. I can tell you honestly. John, his band, and myself were more than ready to “lay it down”.
For his part of the program, Mills chose a number of Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, and Glen Miller instrumental pieces that warmed up the crowd nicely. By the time I made my entrance, they had apparently forgotten about winter past, and were seen to be performing wanton acts of toe tapping, head bobbing, and dancing on the grass. .. Somebody call the police!!
My turn. With the band driving the first eight bars, I stepped out onto the stage, and opened with the high flying “I Believe In You” from Sinatra’s “It Might As Well Be Swing!” album. I gotta tell you. The dudes absolutely smoked it.
After an hour of other Sinatra jewels such as “Fly Me Too The Moon”, “Night And Day”, and “My Kind Of Town”, I had the feeling the audience was ready to take us all home for cheese cake and coffee. I like cheese cake and coffee. And I was feeling pretty good about my first outing with John and his boys.