April 26, 2004 – The St. Croix Big Band dazzled the audience at the Dorsch Cultural Activity Center in Frederiksted on Sunday night. Led by Kent Moorhead, the musicians transformed the center into a nostalgic wonderland, taking the packed audience back in time with their renditions of such standards as "Misty," "Blue Bones" and "Mambo Swing."
The band came together about three years ago and has 20 active members. According to Moorhead, the group provides professionals an outlet to play the music they love. Some of the members are retired; others still hold jobs. But all love playing music and entertaining a crowd.
"The band give them a reason to take up their instruments again," Moorhead said.
Complimenting the smooth instrumental sounds were vocalists Audrey Odetta Brown and Dean Hodge. Brown's rendition of "Someone to Watch Over Me" brought the crowd to its feet. And when Hodge sang "Mack the Knife," none could resist snapping their fingers and bobbing their heads to the beat.
The historic setting was the perfect backdrop for the big band sounds. Appreciative listeners had only to close their eyes and be transported to the heyday of Frank Sinatra and Dizzy Gillespie. Dorethea Sneed, visiting from Atlanta, said the band reminded her of her youth on Chesapeake Bay. "My husband used to sing those songs to me," the 84-year-old said with a sly smile. "We used to go on moonlight boat rides on the bay."
Sneed was there in the company of her son, Stanley Sneed, the local Red Cross center manager, and some of his friends. "Big band music raises the spirits," he said.
To the delight of the crowd, Stanley Sneed was inspired to "cut a rug" on the dance floor.
The night's music was not just for the "young at heart," however. Raymond Harley Jr., all of 7 years old, joined the swing dancers and delighted onlookers with his own dance style. His dad plays trumpet with the band, but that's not where young Raymond's interests lie. "I want to be a limbo dancer when I grow up," he declared.
"The music was fabulous, Frederiksted resident Gayle Washburn said. "This is such a close, intimate setting."
The event was sponsored in part by Our Town Frederiksted. Orin Arnold, a member of the group, said it will be sponsoring more music events at the Dorsch Center. "We are going to be hosting a cabaret-style dance in May," he said. "It's a great community effort."
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