News

Lakes Region Big Band plays Milly’s Tavern

Friday, April 5, 2013

By GEORGE PELLETIERCorrespondent

MANCHESTER – With a 21-piece band, the Lakes Region Big Band takes residency at Milly’s Tavern every Thursday night from 7:30-10 p.m.

And according to trombonist and band leader Galen Doscher, they’re not your grandfather’s big band.

“We play a high energy mix of music, everything from traditional big band stylings all the way up to modern and contemporary jazz,” he said. “We include everything from Earth, Wind & Fire and Steely Dan, to the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cherry Poppin’ Daddys and BIg Bad Voodoo Daddy.”

With an impressive esthetic of hipster jazz and classic big band sounds, along with polished musicians, the band consists of five saxaphones, four trombones, four trumpets, four rhythm players- guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums, a vocalist and auxiliary musicians. The band originated in the Lakes Region five years ago and began playing regular gigs in Plymouth and Concord before finding a home at Milly’s Tavern in Manchester.

“We were looking for a place to regularly perform and be accessible to an audience,” Doscher said. “And when you have 21 people, it’s tough to find places that can bring you in and will be supportive.”

Enter Milly’s Tavern owner Peter Telge, who was receptive about the big band performing at his tavern on a regular basis.

“Milly’s has really taken a different tact in the last four months,” Doscher said. “After my inquiry into playing there, they have been angling towards a higher quality of music and a more steady music, something they can depend on and patrons can say, ‘Where do I want to go to hear some live music?’ They have groups that play there regularly on Tuesday through Thursday nights, and then Friday and Saturday nights they have a live band rotation.”

While Milly’s has always been a popular venue for live music, Doscher and company have kicked it up a notch with their natty brand of big band music.

“I look for sophisticated, high energy music as the band leader,” he said. “I love Glenn Miller and that’s a great big band sound but it doesn’t translate terribly well to the situation that Milly’s offers. We could sit there and play Glenn Miller and that would be great, but we don’t want to do that all night. And people who are at Milly’s are not interested in hearing that all night.”

Doscher said his goal is, “to create a place where people could hear new and more contemporary jazz and fusion, high energy music. Not a watered down version of something where they sit there and sip their wine and mosey off to sleep.”

Dancing is available and Doscher said depending on the crowd, he’ll “change the set list on the fly.”

“As I look out and see a lot of people listening and relaxing and ordering beer, and having a good time doing that, then I’ll gear the set list accordingly. We’ll do more solos and play more jazz. If the crowd looks like the typical group that Milly’s usually draws, we’ll go more along the pop end with Setzer’s ‘Rock This Town.’”

In addition to attracting a varied audience at Milly’s, the Lakes Region Big Band has also caught the ear of the Manchester Community School.

“They’re starting to know that we’re down here,” Doscher said. “Amateur and professional musicians in the area will come down and hang out and listen to some of the best musicins in the region. And we’re are a group that’s not there to make money but rather there to make music.”

There is cover charge at Milly’s; nor does the band charge the venue.

“My wife says I’m paying to have a part-time job,” Doscher said with a laugh. “That may give you a sense of the work level involved.”

Ultimately, Doscher said the challenge remains in getting patrons to drop their iPads and go out for an evening of big band music.

“It’s too easy to entertain yourself on the lazy side at home,” he said. “If you go back to the ’50s, you went out to be entertained. You went to dinner or to the movies, or to hear live music. In the ’70s you went out for dancing, in the ’80s, clubbing, Things have really shifted. It’s so easy to entertain yourself at home that you don’t go out. People have forgotten what a true live interaction is, and that’s different from interacting with your TV or social media.”

Doscher said the band relies on word-of-mouth advertising.

“Our challenge is to re-engage audiences. Right now the struggle for musicians and all artists is how to draw people out, to reinvest in the live experience. And for us as a big band, we’re even further out in left field. We realize we’re not a popular genre right now. And we’re not trying to be a popular genre. We’re just trying to interact with other people who enjoy great music,” he said.

Milly’s Tavern is at 500 N. Commercial St., Manchester. For more information, call 625-4444.

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