Manitoulin Swing band still 'swingin' more than 70 years later
It may arguably be one of the oldest swing bands in the country, but time certainly hasn't slowed down its jam sessions when it comes to making great music. The 'Manitoulin Swing Band' has been swinging into the hearts of islanders for more than 73 years.
Doug Smith, the founder of Manitoulin Transport, is one of the band's founding members.
For Smith, this is more than just making great music, it's also about making great memories.
"It's a bit of a challenge," he said. "You get to keep the music up, we enjoy it ... it's good."
The band's predecessor, the Gore Bay Orchestra, folded in the 60s. They lost several members as well as the sheet music. As a result, the new band learned to play the music by ear and they've been doing it ever since.
"I don't think we have a favourite. We have about 400 tunes we can play and I enjoy playing most of them," Smith said.
Bob Wiseman, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is another founding member of the band. He told CTV News it's always great when the musicians can get together.
"We're all friends. We've lost a few people along the way with age, you know, we get people to fill in, a younger crew, you notice some of the people here are younger," Wiseman said.
They don't get together as much as they used to and figure band practices run maybe three to four times a year now at the Gore Bay Lodge.
And while shows have been hard to come by during the COVID-19 pandemic, they're looking forward to getting a chance to show off their talents in this year's telethon.
"I prefer the slow pieces with the good harmony ... if you don't have that, it tends to be noise," Wiseman laughed.
As for what keeps them going, some seven decades later.
Smith joked they are all "crazy" for swing music.
The Manitoulin Swing Band will open up this year's telethon, which can be watched on CTV Sudbury or CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca starting at 2 p.m. Dec. 4.