Saturday, March 23, 2019
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20180315 Swing Street Big Band Dance MILLER IMG 4525Karen and Trevor Tripp moved in perfect harmony, seemingly without stress or strain as the Swing Street Band played “In the Mood.”

The couple waltzed away as Robert Comeau and his orchestra played an evening of music that covered several decades at Aladdin Villas in Mission.

“That’s why we are here, for all the dancing,” said Karen as she and Trevor took a break in between songs. “We’ll go square dancing, club dancing, social dancing – wherever there’s a dance, we’re going to try to be there.”

The couple have known each other for 37 years and said they were dancing before they even met. They love following several groups in the Valley such as the Swing Street Band, Texas Wheels, the Cruisers and Diego.

20180315 Swing Street Big Band Dance MILLER IMG 4513“We like to play songs that are recognizable to the Winter Texans,” said Bob Comeau, director of the Swing Street Band. “When they recognize something from when they were young, they enjoy it and will be more likely to dance and be engaged with the music.”

The Swing Street Band incudes music from the likes of Duke Ellington, Bennie Goodman, Harry James, Henry Mancini and more.

Some of their songs included “Moonlight Serenade,” “Emily,” “Crazy,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Mambo No. 5,” among others.

Penny Alvey came up to Comeau during an intermission to express how much she and her husband enjoyed the band.

“We went to see the Glenn Miller Band the other night and I have to tell you that you all are every bit as good as they are,” she said.

“Why thank you so much,” Comeau replied excitedly.

“And you know what? Your music is more danceable,” she said.

The Alveys especially enjoyed the songs “Satin Doll” and “When I Fall in Love,” and the couple was a staple on the dance floor, participating in the jitterbug, fox trot, cha cha, waltz and more.

“There is so much dancing down here in the Rio Grande Valley, we absolutely love it,” said Penny, who enjoys dancing to Sweetwater, the Ramblers and many more. “We will go out as many times a week as possible and follow our favorite bands and meet so many people.”

20180315 Swing Street Big Band Dance MILLER IMG 4521Comeau took over the Swing Street Band four years ago. The band is made up mostly of current or retired band directors from local middle schools and high schools.
“It gives them a chance to perform and not just teach, which is something of course they love to do,” Comeau said.

Several of the band members are graduates of Texas A&M Kingsville, where its music program is highly recognized.

“I called them once to let them know how many graduates I had from their program,” Comeau said. “They told me that I had some of their best ex-students.”

Comeau said there are several types of fans that range from seasoned ballroom dancers to folks who just like to move around to the music. Then there are those who don’t dance but go to just hear the music – just because of the big band sound. The band plays a variety of shows and up-tempo music, beautiful waltzes, and even Latin rhythm sprinkled through the concert.

The band was founded in the 1990s and was called The Society for the Preservation of Big Band Music. When Comeau took over, he made several changes and the band continues to thrive today.

“We love listening to them, they are such a professional band,” said Lori Engebrutson, from Fun N Sun Resort in San Benito. “They are a lot of fun and play so many songs that you can dance to. And if you don’t like to dance, they are just great to listen to.”

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