Letter to the Editor: Bob Bertuzzi

What will happen to dance bands?

Re: “Dance band toss up: gyrate, shake and shuffle,” May 29

Gordon Turner’s column reminded me of my early days when I used to be a freelance drummer in Trail, playing in many different bands with different styles of music. In those days the bands had to be very versatile as people liked to dance to different rhythms. I was a drummer and I would be taken to task if I didn’t know my Latin rhythms (beguine, rumba, cha cha, tango, etc.).

Then there were the waltzes and the shuffles and the jazz rhythms. There were even some rock ’n’ roll songs, polkas,and marches. The custom was to play two or three songs in one set — all with the same rhythm and then the dancers would take a break or find another partner. It was expected by the dancers for the bands to follow that procedure.

I often think of what it would be like now, if I went back to playing dances again. I haven’t heard any band in this area — with possibly one exception — that plays the kinds of selections mentioned above. My observation is that most drummers today are not taught the rhythms needed to perform the many different styles of music available. That limits the band’s ability to perform a variety of musical styles.

I think our school music programmes (wherever they exist) need to think about performing music of the world that has stood the test of time. Our children need to learn more than one style of music. Most rock ’n’ roll bands just seem to have one or two basic beats and that is it. I have seen many young children who have a talent for music but who have not been trained to perform it in all its varieties and shapes.

I conclude with the question “What will happen to dance band music in the future?” I haven’t seen anyone dance a good polka or waltz or any of the above styles of music for quite some time now. All of us old fogies are dying out and I don’t see anyone taking our place. I have no idea what it will be like to dance in the next ten to 20 years. It would be interesting to have that opportunity to experience it.

Thank you, Gordon Turner, for your comments regarding the dance bands of today. I certainly have to agree with you.

Bob Bertuzzi

Castlegar