By Pat KRAMER
On March 17, the Sunland-Tujunga Elks Lodge 2098, at 1037 Commerce Ave., Tujunga, will feature cherished music from the big-band era with The Gold Coast Gold Swingin’ Big Band & Jazztet performing at its St. Patrick’s Day dinner and dance. This event is the Sunland-Tujunga premiere of the newly reformed band by its leader Noel Collins. The evening starts with a corned beef and cabbage dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. followed by three hours of big-band entertainment from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person and the event is open to the public.
The history of GCG Swingin’ Big Band goes back 25 years when Collins, a Billings, Montana native, founded his first jazz-flavored big-band, the Billings Studio Orchestra. The group was very popular, performing for many major activities and concerts. In 1987, after relocating to Southern California, Collins reformed the band as The Gold Coast Gold Swingin’ Big Band and for the next 10 years played at numerous engagements, primarily around Ventura County. In 1998, when he accepted a teaching role for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a high school music teacher, Collins retired the band.
Now living in Sunland, and after completing advanced graduate studies, Collins’ primary objective has been to resurrect the GCG. To that end, he’s reorganized the band with many very talented past musicians who hold key positions in their sections. He has also added some competent new guys to fill the gaps for those players who are no longer available.
“This group promises to be the most outstanding big band I have ever worked with,” said Collins.
With the goal of finding a permanent home for the GCG where they can regularly perform for special events, Collins is excited about the St. Paddy’s Day gala dinner-dance for the band’s premiere.
“From a personal perspective,” said Collins, “my primary consideration is to contribute something special for our community. I live here now and want to be a part of what’s happening here. By making available a highly professional jazz flavored big band for dances and other activities, I think I will be bringing an aesthetic and cultural entity to town that can be enjoyed and appreciated by the general public.”