Highland Swing

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Highland News, March 22nd 2007

Gretchen Gustman is seranaded by Campbell McCracken and the members of the Highland Big Jazz Band

A schoolteacher travels from the States to Inverness to hear her favourite big band - Highland Swing
GRETCHEN Gustman was so moved by an Inverness big band's music that she made a return trip to see them again - all of 3,500 miles.
The seasoned traveller first heard the snappy sounds of Highland Swing when she visited the city in September, 2005.
After she returned to her hometown of Menomonie, Wisconsin, the 39-year-old English teacher could not stop raving about the band to her friends.
"I thought they were wonderful and I couldn't stop playing the clips to my friend." said Gretchen "But I think some of them might have got a bit fed up after I bombarded them with clip after clip from their website."
Gretchen told the Highland News she stumbled on a charity gig the band were playing at the city's Bellfield Park when she was walking back from the Ness Islands on a Sunday afternoon.
She said: "1 was walking back to my hotel and I heard some music in the air. I decided to follow the sound and found a live music concert in the park.
"There was a banner up with the name of the band and after the gig I decided to look up Highland Swing on the internet."
Gretchen contacted sax player Campbell McCracken and asked when the next time she could see the band play would be, and he invited her along to their next rehearsal at Crown Primary School.
"Every Tuesday evening for the remainder of my vacation I went to the primary school to listen to them rehearse."
Not only did she listen, but she joined in too. She said: "The band were very welcoming. Their director John Sharkey told me they had a song they were working on and needed a vocalist so he asked me if I would like to rehearse with them. I was obviously glad to help, though I'm not sure how much help I was.
"I even missed my entrance into one of the songs because I was captivated by the music."
Since she left Inverness to return to America, Gretchen has planned a return trip and now she is here to spend time with the band.
She said: "My friends think it's funny and that I am a little bit odd - but that's part of my charm!
"I have come thousands of miles to see the band, so I think I have a claim as the band's N0. 1 groupie! I look forward to their first world tour."
Campbell, owner of ISP company Calico, said Gretchen was one of two American fans to visit Inverness to see them rehearse.
"We recently had a woman come all the way from Texas to see us play." he said.
On the subject of a world tour, Campbell quipped "We might not include Wisconsin on our first tour but we have been across the water before - in the Black Isle."