The grand return of swing to Sylvan Lake

Jazz at the Lake set to host Swing Into Spring concert

Johnny Summers

There once was a time when swing was king in Sylvan Lake.

In the early 1930’s Sylvan Lake’s Varsity Dance Hall had just been built. An era of big band swing music was soon to begin, leading to much of the eventual success Varsity would see.

Over the years the dance hall would become a hub for music lovers from across Alberta, hosting a number of big name recording artists in addition to helping a few budding local artists to bloom for themselves, including two time Juno award winning saxophone player, P.J. Perry.

Built around 1930 and demolished n 1979, the popular Varsity Hall led to a deeply seeded tradition of swing in Sylvan Lake.

Jazz At The Lake organizers Cheryl Fisher and Eric Allison are thrilled to have Summers in town to help swing a spring night away.

Allison said swing’s strong presence in Sylvan’s history makes the upcoming show that much sweeter.

“The most famous era for Varsity Hall really was the late 30s, early 1940’s. They had swing dance here even through the 50s,” said Allison. “P.J. Perry grew up watching the guys there. His uncle Jim Galone and his father Paul Perry together had a band at the Varsity Hall, so P.J. really cut his teeth on that.”

“This is the reason Cheryl and I decided 15 years ago to see our idea through was because Sylvan Lake had such a rich musical history.”

The grand return of swing to Sylvan Lake is set to take place at the end of May with the second instalment of Jazz At The Lake’s seasonal concert series.

Swing Into Spring, set for Saturday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre, will feature Johnny Summers, a multi-talented musician, composer and arranger described as having boundless ability and stage appeal.

Allison added that with influences like Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Louis Armstrong & Frank Sinatra, it comes as no surprise that he has something to offer everyone.

“He is a very talented young man, he’s a good singer a good player, an excellent arranger and a good composer you really could call him a quadruple threat,” said Allison.

Tickets for the Swing Into Spring concert are available online via www.jazzatthelake.com for $25 as well as available on the evening of the performance pending ticket available.

Organizers recommend getting tickets online within the coming weeks to ensure your entrance.

For more information or to volunteer contact Eric Allison and Cheryl Fisher at 403-506-4003.

editor@sylvanlakenews.com