Highland Swing

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Ross-Shire Journal, August 31st 2007

Campbell McCracken, alto sax player and PR man for the Highland Swing Band

Welcome for Swing Kings
WITH September set to be a terrific toe-tapping time in Dingwall, it is confirmed that tickets for the Puffin Hydrotherapy Pool musical fundraiser in the National Hotel on Friday 28th are now available - and already selling fast! The Seaforth Room is being provided generously free of charge by hotelier Sean Kennedy.
The occasion will be the first visit to town of the noted Highland Swing Band - a score or more of talented musicians from all over the north with a wide repertoire of the sort of swing-time and jazz music which drew massive crowds in the thirties and forties, and nowadays has great appeal too for the younger generation.
The band was formed just a few years ago. And their growing reputation precedes them. It is to their great credit that they agreed without hesitation in the springtime to bring their talents to town free of charge to help raise cash for some water jet enhancement at the much-valued local Puffin Hydrotherapy Pool.
With nostalgia prevailing, John Sharkey of Conon Bridge - a man whose work-life involves setting up physics learning educational applications and whose pilot's licence is still current -will lead his fellow musicians.
They can include up to no less than fourteen sax players alone for a wide repertoire of compelling 'itchy-foot' music like that made famous by the Glenn Miller orchestra and other musical giants of the past.
Charming chanteuse on the night is pencilled in as multi-talented Liz McLardy from outside Muir of Ord. An accomplished athlete and medical doctor too, the lyrical Liz leads a busy life indeed -just like the rest of the band!
Tickets are only 5 a head and the event - with accompanying prize draw, hopefully to be performed by Pierre, a courageously entertaining local personality - is expected to be an early sell-out.
Dingwall and other Ross businesses have already contributed handsomely to the prize list.
Ticket sales points include Cormack and Crawfords department store and Ali Mac's shop, both in High Street, the Puffin Pool Charity Shop in Tulloch Street, and the Puffin Pool itself.
Pool manager May Hayden has secured an estimate from a specialist supplier near Nairn of nearly 7,000 plus VAT for supply, delivery and installation of a swim/massage adjustable speed and air mix jet unit at the deep end of the pool.
It all follows on from an initial offer of fundraising by the informal 'Hat Club' which met for the first time a few months ago.
Over 200 was raised one spring evening at the National Hotel. And virtually overnight a prominent local business offered to more than double that sum by pledging 300. So -over 500 has already been secured.
The Hat Club recently recruited the assistance of a retired local businessman to act as ticket co-ordinator for the September 28 big band event. Billy Shanks, well-known throughout Ross and a regular golfer on Tain Links - will be in direct touch with ticket sales points and will be pleased to hear from anyone wishing a special order, or wanting to donate further items for the draw. He can be contacted on 01349 863546.
As Billy says, "The Puffin Pool is a huge asset to Dingwall. Everyone knows someone who has benefited from the hydro-therapy treatment - I've done so myself and so have loads of others I know. It's such a good local cause to support.
A power jet would be an enhancement of facilities at the pool and the appearance of the Highland Swing Band at The National should get things really going towards the target. Thanks to all who have supported the venture so far."
The special fundraising efforts by 'The Hat Club' have already been praised by Puffin Pool trustees including treasurer Jim Bremner. Some representatives of the Puffin Pool hope to be there on the night.
And according to PR man for the Highland Swing Band - alto sax player Campbell McCracken of Cromarty where he is principal of Scotland's acclaimed 'leading internet service provider' Calico UK based on the local High Street, "This is just the sort of charitable cause leader John Sharkey and the rest of the musicians are keen to support. We look forward to our first Dingwall date with great anticipation."
The format will be easy -no announced dances, just music all the way, with wisecracks, special requests, and the opportunity for those present to circulate, sit and listen, or indeed dance - if so moved by the music. So, for quick-steppers, soft-shoe shufflers and louche lounge lizards - as well as boppers, rockers and masters of boogie - it should be quite a night!
Jaunty hats may be worn! Or not.
And meantime, for a tantalising look at the band's impressive repertoire, access the Highland Swing website.
You can have a wee listen too - just to get you in the mood!
o Offerings on the night could include numbers like - American Patrol, April in Paris, Basin Street Blues, The Girl from Ipanema, Stormy Weather, Bandstand Boogie, Beyond the Sea, It's only a Paper Moon, Shake Rattle and Roll and many more classics of the mid-twentieth century dance-floor.