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City's swing band sound brings US fan back for more
|FOR one American tourist, it is not the swing of the kilt that brings her back to the Highlands, but the swing of an Inverness big band.|
Gretchen Gustman of Wisconsin had her first introduction to the appropriately named Highland Swing jazz band on her first vacation to the Inverness area in the autumn of 2005.
"I was on Ness Islands on my way back to where I was staying and I heard music. It drew me like a siren," she explained.
"They were doing a benefit concert right there in Bellfield Park and I thought they were really amazing."
Miss Gustman looked up the band's website after spotting the site address on the band's banner and was disappointed to see no further concerts were scheduled, so instead she went along to Highland Swing's Tuesday evening rehearsals at Crown Primary School.
"Every Tuesday evening for the remainder of my vacation I went to listen to them rehearse," Miss Gustman continued.
A classically trained singer who performs at weddings and other functions in her home close to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Miss Gustman also found herself joining in when the band's regular vocalist was not there.
"That was wonderful. I don't usually sing with that size of band and it was a blast," she said.
Nor does Miss Gustman usually sing that style of music and she admits she was not particularly a fan of big band swing.
"Certainly there are swing bands around where I'm from, but I have never gone to see them."
Identifying just what it was about a Scottish band that finally got her hooked on such an American musical form is more difficult.
"There's something really warm and inviting about them," Miss Gustman said.
Thanks to the Internet, she was able to keep up her interest in the band even when she returned to the Mid-West listening to short clips on its website.
Now back in Inverness, Miss Gustman acknowledged Highland Swing was a major reason for revisiting this part of Scotland.
She returns home on Saturday, but only for a month before she quits her job in financial services to start a new job teaching English in Bulgaria.
"I'll be back to Inverness though," she promised.