Dercum Center hosts evening of big-band music and dancing in Keystone |

Dercum Center hosts evening of big-band music and dancing in Keystone

Krista Driscoll
The Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra will provide the toe-tapping tunes for “Stompin’ at the Station,” the Dercum Center for the Arts and Humanities’ fifth anniversary party.
Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: “Stompin’ at the Station,” the Dercum Center for the Arts and Humanities’ fifth anniversary party, featuring The Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra

When: Friday, July 10; doors open at 6:30 p.m., dance instruction at 7 and big-band music at 8 p.m.

Where: Warren Station Center for the Arts, 164 Ida Belle Drive, Keystone

Cost: Suggested donation of $20 includes appetizer buffet, cash bar

More information: Email or call (970) 485-4801

Pull out your roaring ’20s flapper regalia and zoot suits, and strap on your dancing shoes for “Stompin’ at the Station,” an evening of boisterous big-band music at Warren Station on Friday, July 10.

The event is part fundraiser and part fifth-anniversary celebration for the Dercum Center for the Arts and Humanities, an organization that brings a variety of musicians, lecturers and artists to various venues all over Summit County.

The first hour will be devoted to dance instruction from Braedan Smith, of Booth’s Dance Denver, who will teach anyone who’s brave enough the basics of the foxtrot and a little bit of East Coast swing dancing.

“Foxtrot is kind of a classic jazzy dance,” he said. “East Coast is a little bit faster, upbeat, a really fun dance. The foxtrot: think like Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, big-band style. They kind of have that sound, The Hot Tomatoes do, a big-band dance sound, which is the foxtrot.

“The East Coast swing, it’s still a lot fun. They kind of have that swing feel to them, too. The East Coast thing is fun; it’s pretty versatile, too. When they learn these two dances, they can use them with all types of tempos and genres.”

The Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra will take the stage following the workshop, providing toe-tapping tunes for the evening, and attendees are invited to follow in the fancy footsteps of Smith and his dance partner, Tessa Wetherbee.

“Whether people want to dance or not dance, the music is great to listen to just on its own,” said Karina Wetherbee, general manager of the Dercum Center. “It’ll be a great evening if you just come to listen, too, then these four dance performances by Braedan and Tessa — it’s very exciting, lots of fun and there’s nothing better than dancing to live music.”

Give me a beat

The Hot Tomatoes have been around since 1982, starting in the vein of Cotton Club-style rhythms from the 1920s before adding swing-era music in the late ’80s to attract more gigs, said Kevin Bollinger, current trumpet player and bandleader. The band has a handful of regular players and a stable of other musicians who fill in from time to time.

“There’s nine of us, so there’s three brass, three reeds and three rhythm,” he said. “We can play big-band music; we can play small-group music. It lends itself to being able to play a lot of different styles.”

You might think you’re unfamiliar with the styles, as they don’t pop up very often in the Summit County music scene, but Bollinger said you hear big band and swing all the time in movies, and he even caught a familiar melody the other day over the speakers as he was strolling the aisles of the supermarket.

“It’ll be dance music that you can dance to,” he said. “Even those who don’t think they can, can dance to it. It will be hard not to dance because it makes you want to get up and move and be happy.”

“Their music, in particular, is fun because of the big-band feel,” Smith said. “It’s got a lot of energy, a good, full sound — it’s fun to dance to that; the music is really upbeat. It’s easy to get yourself to perform and be big and upbeat with your performance, and that always feels good.”

Bollinger said playing for people who are dancing is a slightly different vibe than performing in front of a stagnant audience.

“We’re The Hot Tomato Dance Orchestra — we’re geared for people to dance,” he said. “Playing a concert, you don’t immediately get reactions from people. They sit there and politely clap; they might get a little wild. With the dancers, you see the smiles on their faces and see them do crazy things like throw people around.”

Dancing for the Dercums

“Stompin’ at the Station” pays homage to the favorite old-time tunes of Max and Edna Dercum, founders of Keystone Resort and namesakes of the Dercum Center.

“Max, my grandfather, was really into the big-band era of music,” Karina Wetherbee said. “He played clarinet. For a lot of people who came into the early days of Ski Tip — now the bed and breakfast, but it was where they lived — they would have jam sessions on many evenings, with Max playing clarinet.

“People would come in with accordions and pianos and anything else they wanted to bring. This era of music — sort of the swing music — was really important to him, and he loved it. It seems like a good celebration of the fifth year.”

Wetherbee said her grandparents loved not just music, but everything cultural and educational, which she said contributed to them living long and happy lives.

“They were always trying new things, not just ski racing until they were in their 80s, but they loved reading and learning and music and art and anything like that,” she said. “They were constantly engaged with learning and with their community, so it’s a really nice fit and — at the base of the mountain, doing this right there where they settled — seems like a good place to give a nod to where it all started.”

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