Summer concerts ends with big band sound

BALDWIN — The 25th annual Sounds from the Forest Echo thru the Timber summer concert series closed the season with a performance by General Assembly Big Band on Saturday at the Wenger Pavilion in Baldwin.

The General Assembly Big Band, from Ludington, is a full 17-piece orchestra formed in 1971 and has performed throughout the state and nation.

“This year we celebrated 25 years worth of great live music,” said Chris Sugimura, a committee member for the concert series. “The series went well this year. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the weather has been great for the most of the concerts. Chris Trucks and Rex Radden did a great job with concessions. Our project manager, Tim Scully, had one of the highest quality lineup of performers we’ve had for our series.”

Area resident John Petersen plays bass with the General Assembly Big Band.

“This has been one of best the seasons of the concert series,” he said. “There has been a lot of community support. There was a good variety of music — something everyone could enjoy. The Paul Nelson Band was a huge draw this year, as well as Thornetta Davis, crowned Detroit’s ‘Queen of the Blues’ and the group Tell Yo Mama.”

Scully shared a brief history of the concert series.

“It was 26 years ago Shirley Wenger and Norma and Lee Ann Russell summoned me to an impromptu meeting to discuss how we could have a free concert at Baldwin’s newly erected Wenger Pavilion. I asked why not try a series of weekly concerts and they agreed. We called another meeting and a small committee was formed to raise funds and awareness. Cinda Rock, Darci Maldonado, Pam Simmons and Dianna Trimburger were on this committee.

“I had very little experience, but I helped coordinate a couple of festivals in Idlewild and Ludington highlighting resident jazz bass legend Eddie Calhoun. With borrowed equipment, some operating assistance, a small budget and the Wengers’ and Russells’ confidence in the endeavor, ‘Sounds from the Forest’ was conceived. Saturday nights in Baldwin have never been the same.

“The following year we expanded to a Wednesday series, ‘Echo thru the Timber.’ The rest is history, as the concert series features not only regional acts but internationally touring artists, including some Grammy Award winners.”