By JACKIE NANCE
“We’re always trying new numbers,” Miller said. “The most important thing is for the members to have a good time and enjoy themselves – it’s taken real commitment to keep such a large band going.”
This Saturday, Hog Heaven Big Band will play 9:30 a.m. at the Moscow Farmers Market.
Hog Heaven Big Band has about 16 members most of the time, ranging from local college students to longtime regulars. Right now, the band includes Miller and her husband Jon (alto sax), Anne Welchel (vocals), Tim Price (tenor sax), Peggy Flaherty (tenor sax), Bill House (baritone sax), Joe Evans (trumpet), Bob Shepard (trumpet), Dean Stewart (trumpet), Mary Conitz (trombone), Wayne McProud (trombone), Mark Secrist (trombone), Sandy Price (piano), Bill Thompson (guitar), Greg Donohoe (bass), Dan Smith (drums) and Nate Spain (drums).
“Bill Roberts started it all in his living room. The band grew by word of mouth,” Miller said. “Like back then, we start asking around when we’re in need of an instrument. We’re always looking for new members, so don’t be shy to approach us.”
The band’s shortage of trumpet players is an encouragement for newcomers. Practices, Miller said, are twice a month, with interested people sitting in and eventually honing their skills to become a part of the band.
“Some of our members are classically trained, some have professions that are computer oriented, but they just happen to play instruments,” Miller said. “Log onto Facebook, check out our rehearsal times, and jump in. We keep members as long as they’re willing to play.”
Miller joined the band herself after being urged by her husband, Jon, one of the alto saxophone players.
“I’d never sung into a microphone before,” she said. “So it was a real challenge, but after five years I finally got over the stage fright.”
Hog Heaven has performed at dances (including for dance groups like the Swing Devils), parties, weddings, clubs, county fairs, Farmers Market, monthly at the Uniontown Dahmen Barn, and the Moscow Art Walk, and has appeared in Potlatch, Troy, Cottonwood, and Grangeville.
“We’d like to be involved in more fundraisers,” Miller said. “When we can play for an audience, it’s a lot more fun for the band. It charges us up. If you have a great audience, you get a great concert. So don’t be afraid to dance.”