The Junction City Big Band performed music from the 1930s and ’40s Saturday night while students danced the night away in the Sheperd Union Building Ballroom.
Students danced to classics like “Moonlight Serenade,” “American Patrol,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing” and “Cha Cha For Judy.”
“I always try to incorporate a variety of swing music in our selections like cha-chas, waltzes and your basic swing music,” said Steve Ericksen, the band’s director.
One hour prior to the dance, lessons were offered for $1 per person. Tickets to the dance itself cost only $5.
The band, consisting of five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, one piano, one bass and one drum set, was founded in 1987 by the late K. Earl Ericksen, father of the current conductor. Ericksen, a former music professor at Weber State University, began the band with the desire to give former WSU musicians a way to continue using their talent. Currently, almost half of the band is made up of former WSU musicians.
Ericksen passed away last July at 87 years old. His son, Steve, having been the baritone and saxophone player in the band since it started, was well-primed to lead the band.
Don Keipp, director of bands at WSU, is the drum player in the Junction City Big Band. Keipp was with the band when Ericksen’s father was conductor, and he said he is confident in Ericksen’s ability to conduct the band.
“Steve has always been a good friend,” Keipp said. “I’ve enjoyed playing under his father’s leadership. I’m sure that things won’t change.”
Ruth Stevenson, the band’s singer, has been with the band for three years. She said she has fond memories of the band’s founder.
“Dr. Erickson kept Big Band music alive in Ogden all these years,” Stevenson said. “He was an amazing link to that great musical era, and it was a privilege to sing for him. May Dr. Erickson’s legacy and Big Band music live on forever!”
According to Stevenson, she has a profound connection with the music she sings for the band.
“I think hearing great swing and dance music can relieve all stress, cure all blues and generally give the feeling that life is good,” she said. “And while the band plays, it is!”
Ray Barrios, a former WSU student, has been playing lead trumpet with the band since its start in the 1980s. Like Stevenson, Barrios said he has a strong appreciation for music as a trigger for emotion.
“Music is a medium that affects people differently,” he said. “When you hear a favorite song being performed or played, you remember events in your life, whether sad or happy.”
If students missed this Junction City Big Band Dance, they should not fear, according to Ericksen. Ericksen said there are three more lined up. Upcoming dances are anticipated for February, March and April.