Dave Jones is the creator and conductor of Prime Time Big Band, the only band in Canada to play in the same venue for 12 years. The band returns to the Ironwood Stage and Grill this Saturday for their season opener, complete with a world-famous trumpet player.
What were you doing before Prime Time?
I spent 28 years in the military as a musician, playing in military bands and performing in parades. I worked in Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Europe. I left the military in 1994, but I decided to continue my career as a musician.
How has the band evolved since 1994?
After I retired, I wanted to keep working with professional musicians; it was the perfect time for me to start a big band. We started out as a rehearsal band, and slowly, we were approached by others to play more music and got invited to play at festivals. We just gathered steam over the last several years.
Now, we’re made up of some of the top players in the city and have a wide reputation. Actually, Jens Lindemann – one of the top five virtuoso trumpet players in the world – wanted to get involved in our final concert in June. He’s going to be here for the opening concert on September 14.
Can you explain what a big band is?
A big band is a musical ensemble that originated in the USA in the ’30s and was made famous by musicians like Woody Herman and Buddy Rich. Most big bands have 17 members but Prime Time has 19 members; the music is written for 19.
What do you think is the appeal of this genre of music?
Big band music is powerful, it’s exciting, it’s thrilling! When audiences come to listen, they’ll be familiar with probably half the selection, which is also part of the appeal. Big band music also has a very wide appeal: people in our audience range from 20 years old to 90 years old.
Where does the band perform?
The Ironwood Stage and Grill is our only concert, sit-down venue and we play there every second Saturday afternoon. That’s the only place we play, except for when we’re invited to festivals, which is once or twice a year.
On Saturday, September 14 you’re celebrating your new season, but you’re also celebrating the Ironwood’s reopening after the floods. Is the band doing anything special for this occasion?
We’re going to be doing the same program as the one that was slated for the end of the year, back in June. We’d planned a great program: it was going to be very light-hearted and the show was sold-out! Since we never got to perform the program we planned, we’re sticking with the June program.
We’ve got a wonderful opening concert all ready, but we’ve planned a great program to come as well. Tommy Banks, a world-famous pianist from Edmonton, will be performing with us on November 23.
What’s your favourite menu item from the Ironwood?
Eggs Benedict. I love their eggs Benedict. The Ironwood has a wonderful menu.
Prime Time’s season debut takes place on Saturday, September 14 at the Ironwood Stage and Grill. Tickets are $20. The band plays every second Saturday in the month.