Band to recreate '30s, '40s music

May. 22, 2014 @ 02:23 PM

The Big Band sound of swing is heard regularly in Lenoir, but tonight Granite Falls residents can hear it in a free concert downtown by The Silvio Martinat Swing Band.

John Craig, the band's conductor, said he felt it was important to perform somewhere other than Lenoir this time.

“Somebody said, ‘Everything’s always in Lenoir.' And, they’re right,” Craig said.

The band, whose history is etched deep in Caldwell County, performs swing music from the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s, and they try to do is as faithfully to the well known recordings of the day as possible.

“We play almost every number (note) for note what you would have heard,” Craig said.

In the beginning, band was brought together in 1988 by Silvio Martinat of Lenoir, a trumpet player, and Dr. Robin Gatwood, the band director at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Martinat said there was had not been a swing band in the area since before World War II.

The band played at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and it was known as the CCC Swing Band. Martinat said that while CCC&TI officials thought the band was named after their institute, the name actually came from the counties where Martinat and Gatwood lived -- the Caldwell Catawba County Swing Band.

When Gatwood passed away in the late '90s, the band broke up for a year. However, Martinat felt the band should continue and formed it again as The Silvio Martinat Swing Band.

In 2013, after 25 years, Martinat retired, and the band members brought back original member Craig to lead them.

Craig has been in love with the sound of Big Bands for years. The “big sound” of instruments without any tampering from Auto-Tune and other musical equipment has him head over heels, he said.

"It's getting the bigger sound I like," Craig said. "(I enjoy) trying to make it sound just like it did."

While the band does play a country song or two, Craig said it tries to stick to the Big Band era.

 “There’s not a lot of modern stuff that you can even arrange for big band,” Craig said. “I mean there’s no rap song that you can (arrange) for Big Band, because we got all of these instruments, and what would you do with them?”

The free concert on the square in downtown Granite Falls is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Folding seats will be provided, but you may bring your own. The Granite Falls Merchants Association will sell food and drinks. In case of rain, the concert may be moved to the Granite Falls Middle School auditorium or it may be rescheduled to May 29.