The original, founding members of For the Love of Swing: (l-r) bassist Stan Ricker, vocalist/percussionist Tammy Kilpatrick, vocalist/guitarist Robert Wagoner, drummer Tommy Clements (now deceased), pianist John Wedberg and trombonist Elliott Thompson. Photo courtesy John Wedberg
After nearly two decades of keeping their fan following delighted and raising funds for local charities at the same time, For the Love of Swing will play its last concert this month.
For the Love of Swing will play their last concert on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Whiskey Creek restaurant, 524 N. Main St., Bishop, where they played their first gig on New Yearâs Eve in 1994, said Robert Wagoner, the dance bandâs current leader, vocalist and guitarist and one of its founding members. Concert admission is by donation and this last gigâs proceeds will go to the local chapter of the nationwide Wounded Warrior Project.
Wagoner, vocalist/percussionist Tammy Kilpatrick, bassists Stan Ricker and Jesse McCann, trombonist Elliott Thompson, drummer Steven Thompson and guitarist Don Richardson will be performing on Oct. 13. However, founding member/pianist John Wedberg said he would not be performing due to a previous engagement â the Lone Pine Film Festival parade in which he participates as president of the Eastern Sierra Model A Ford Club.
Wagoner, Ricker and Kilpatrick are also founding members of what Wagoner described as a âtight, close-knit group.â Drummer Tommy Clements, who died in September 2011, was also a founding member.
Thompson and Burgenbaugh are long-time For the Love of Swing members and McCann and Richardson are sitting in as guest musicians.
As far as the bandâs farewell performance playlist goes, Wagoner said it might include âSunny Side of the Street,â one of the bandâs favorites. Kilpatrick added that Ricker always asks her to sing âIâve Got You Under My Skinâ and that the band really enjoys âLady be Good.â For the Love of Swing may âthrow in some country or some western, a waltzâ or other â40s-era music, Wagoner said, as they occasionally do. Guests are always welcome to make requests, as well.
Perhaps some of the many musicians who have played with For the Love of Swing over the years might drop by to sit in on the farewell concert. Among past guests, Kilpatrick listed McCann, Richardson and Thompson; bassist Russell Reese; guitarist/drummer Dave Koonse; drummers Mary Tannheimer and Robin Thompson; saxophonists Pat Powell and Eddie Evans; fiddlers Charlie Broten and Fiddlinâ Pete Watercott; vocalists Marty Slay and Chuck Kilpatrick; pianist Joe Sample; and âthe fabulous trumpet playing of the late Bob Behrendt.â
Tammy Kilpatrick added, âThe band has been truly blessed to have played with these folks. We sincerely
regret any omissions of any other musicians.â She also gave a âspecial thanks,â on behalf of For the Love of Swing, to personal assistant Trish Wedberg, Gloria Roberts and her beau, the late Ed Hoff, who always set up the donation table and piano tuners Dick Dawson and Denny Hillis.
Saying goodbye to so much camaraderie and collaboration, loyal fans and swinging good times doesnât come easily. âWe all feel the same,â Wagoner said of his band mates. âWe havenât let our old customers down. We love the music so much and they did, too, so it hurts to give it up,â but so it must be, for health reasons and other considerations.
The community is not only losing a swinging band, it is also losing successful fundraisers. For the Love of Swingâs first gig on New Yearâs Eve 1994 raised funds for the Community Concert Association. It was âa hit,â Kilpatrick said, prompting then-Whiskey Creek manager Vivian Patterson to permanently book the band for the second Sunday of each month. Current Whiskey Creek owner Greg Alexander âgraciouslyâ agreed to continue the bandâs regular gig, Kilpatrick added.
Over the last 18 years, the requested $5-at-the-door donation has added up to more than $70,000, Kilpatrick said. Local non-profits such as Eastern Sierra Breast Cancer Alliance, MOMS Club, Inyo-Mono County Animal Resources & Education and The Salvation Army have benefited.
âWe appreciate all the donations weâve been given over the years,â Wagoner said, âWe are very sorry this is the end. We love all the people who have come out to see us very much.â Wedberg echoed that sentiment, âI think the world of all the audience who have come to hear us all these years. They have really stuck by (us).â
âIâve enjoyed it very much,â Ricker said, âand Iâm sorry to see it come to an end but itâs just getting too difficult for the older members to navigate with our instruments. Iâm going to miss (performing) very much.â
On behalf of the entire band, Kilpatrick said, âYou are not our fans; you are our family and we will always love you and we will never forget how you always made us feel like stars.â She added, âIt has been an honor and a privilege to have played with this group and for this family and for this community.â Â
For the Love of Swing are looking forward to sharing a fond, if bittersweet, farewell with its âfamilyâ at Whiskey Creek on Oct. 13. âWe started there and weâre ending there.â