Prime Time Big Band: By the Numbers

Prime Time Big Band celebrates its 20th anniversary this season. To celebrate this milestone, we spoke with the band's director Dave Jones.

Photograph courtesy of Ironwood Stage and Grill

Prime Time Big Band, Calgary’s second-longest established, regularly performing musical ensemble (after the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Dave Jones, the band's director and originally a trumpet player himself, founded Prime Time Big Band in 1994 as a rehearsal band. 

The band has grown from playing the odd dance and festival to having a regular gig at the Ironwood Stage and Grill. Prime Time Big Band now has a dedicated following of more than 1,200 e-mail newsletter subscribers, performs a minimum of 21 concerts a year and entertains at least 120 people at each of their concerts.

What Is a Big Band?

The big band is made up of 20 musicians and includes five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, one piano, one bass, one drummer and percussionist, one vocalist and one conductor.

Who Is the Prime Time Big Band?

All members of the band are professional musicians and many play in other bands, including two who perform with the CPO. 

The band practices together for two hours every Monday and the musicians also practice on their own from two to 10 hours a day.

Conducting Prime Time Big Band

Jones has been conducting for 35 years — 14 years during his time with the military and, since then, 20 years with the Prime Time Big Band. 

There are 2,950 songs in the band’s current library, and Jones selects 15 songs for each concert. 

Performing For 20 Years

The band has performed in at least 325 venues over the past 20 years.

For 13 seasons, the Prime Time Big Band has performed at the Ironwood Stage and Grill on Saturday afternoons, twice a month. The Big Band Brunch starts at 12 p.m. and the band performs at 2 p.m. Jones estimates he’s eaten 100 or more plates of eggs Benedict, which is his favourite dish from the venue.

The band has only ever cancelled one concert. The 2013 season finale in June was cancelled due to the flood.

Hear the Prime Time Big Band on Dec. 6 and 13, with a special Sunday show on Dec. 7, at the Ironwood Stage and Grill, 1229 9 Ave. S.E. Learn more at

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