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Steamboat’s own big band to play at Depot Art Center

The trumpet section of the Steamboat Swings Big Band plays a tune during a rehearsal Thursday evening in the Steamboat Springs High School band room. The band will take center stage at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Depot Art Center. The concert will be preceded by a dance lesson.
John F. Russell

— Skeeter Bourn grew up listening to big band swing. The music was so engrained in his family that his father encouraged his children — all seven of them — to start their very own brass band.

But it was not until his late 50s that Bourn’s legacy came to fruition.

As a trumpet player in the Steamboat Swings Big Band, Bourn has returned to his lifelong passion.



“I was told it’s never too late to become what you could have been,” Bourn said. “It’s the truth. If you love something enough, it’ll always be there.”

As one of 17 members of the nearly three-year-old ensemble, Bourn will perform with the band Saturday at the Depot Art Center during a community dance.



At 6 p.m., local ballroom and swing dancers Holly and Matt Blanchard will lead a basic swing dance lesson for about 45 minutes. At 7 p.m. the band will strike its first note of an evening filled with swing, jazz standards and traditional ballroom dancing tunes.

The band comprises accomplished amateur musicians like Bourn and professional players like John Fairlie and Mark Rasmussen.

Mike Lewis, a Realtor by day, plays lead tenor saxophone as well as teaching fifth-grade beginning band in Steamboat.

“We have a blast,” Lewis said about playing in Steamboat Swings. “We have a lot of fun doing it. It’s a hobby band because we don’t do it for the money. It’s a community band. It’s also to further music in the community.”

He said the band is a member of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and plays community events like the Doc Willett Awards, Fourth of July celebration at the Tread of Pioneers Museum and other fundraisers.

The band will be joined Saturday night by jazz vocalist Pam Pierce for several songs.

Lewis said one of his favorite parts of the four to six ballroom dances Steamboat Swings Big Band holds each year is watching the crowd swing the night away.

Blanchard, a self-proclaimed dance addict, will lead the 6 p.m. class with her husband, Matt, who she has been dancing with for 20 years.

“It’s so fun,” she said about ballroom dancing. “It’s addicting. You’re exercising and not even realizing you’re exercising.”

She will teach basic swing in the form of the six-count Lindy Hop and Saucy Kicks.

“We’ll teach it easy enough that anyone can get it,” Blanchard said. “If you’ve never done it before, you have to start somewhere.”

Bourn said his wife has been asking him for a long time to put the trumpet down and come dance with her. But the dances are more than an opportunity to shake loose.

“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community. It’s an opportunity to share a love of music with other musicians. There isn’t anything negative about it.”

As for those who are considering taking to the dance floor for their first swing dancing experience, he has a bit of advice:

“The bottom line is just go out and have fun,” Bourn said. “It doesn’t matter if you know any of the moves. Let the music move you.”


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