Canadian Big Band Celebration – Part 2 of the History

The popular music performed in the dance pavilions gracing the Lake Huron shoreline from the 1920-80s was a cherished period of time for popular dance music and is what the Canadian Big Band Celebration after 25 years has become.

Many people reminisce that they found their true love at these summer dance pavilions. Combine warm summer nights at the beach, dancing under the stars to a beautiful love song or “struttin’ your stuff” to an up tempo barn burner, wonderful live bands, a summer romance or a good time with friends and you have the perfect summer evening with cherished memories in the wake.

Now celebrating its 25th year the CBBC offers 4 main events, Friday Night Jazz, Saturday Big Event Afternoon Show, Saturday Big Event Evening Show, and Sunday Jazz Brunch, September 20-22, 2019.

1998 CBBC Expands
by Charles Bell

Part 2 of 3 (Read Part 1)

After three successful “sold out” events 1995-97 the Canadian Big Band Celebration committee mulled around the idea of adding a “warm-up” event on Friday prior to Saturday’s Big Event followed by a “wind down” event on the Sunday.

Jazz music was well ingrained as a major form of musical expression long before the advent of the big band era of the 1930s and 40s. As a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, jazz developed from roots in blues and ragtime. The Jazz Age was a period in the 1920s and early 30s in which jazz music and dance styles gained rapidly in popularity.

            Bobby Dean Blackburn and Friends at the Wismer House

Knowing the importance of jazz music as an art form and the fact that some jazz bands of the 20’s grew larger and more organized into what would eventually become big bands, the CBBC committee thought offering jazz venues would be a strong connection to Saturday’s Big Event and serve as an entertaining “warm-up”.

The “warm-up” event was created and coined “Friday Night Jazz”.
photos by Kerry Jarvis

It involved several downtown venues each presenting a live jazz combo performing a variety of jazz standards and styles including Swing and Dixieland. A free shuttle bus (now the SS Trolley) for “Friday Night Jazz” passport holders was added to shuttle patrons to venues in downtown Port Elgin and downtown Southampton.

Downtown Southampton
photos by Fran Sanagan

The final “wind-down” event “Sunday Jazz Brunch”, was created to serve as a relaxing time after a busy weekend where music lovers could enjoy a delectable brunch served-up with some easy listening live jazz in the beautiful, bright, UNIFOR dining room.

For larger views, CLICK on Images


Once again, the committee was very thankful to the Saugeen Shores business community, Chamber of Commerce and volunteers who supported the expansion of the CBBC to a three day festival. After many hours of planning and volunteer time, the CBBC committee presented the 1998 Canadian Big Band Celebration with three distinct events, Friday Night Jazz, Saturday Big Event and Sunday Jazz Brunch. That September each event of the expanded CBBC went on to become a smashing success.

Next Week: Part 3 of 3

“Hats Off to the Pavilions”