Celebrating its golden anniversary as an ensemble, Portage Fill-Harmonic will bring the Big Band era to Vashon with jazz standards and dance tunes from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, in a concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at Vashon Center for the Arts.
For generations, Portage Fill has entertained and inspired islanders to get up and dance to tunes from the great American songbook. Remarkably, the band is still going strong.
According to trumpet player Lou Engels, the group’s first practice took place in his home. The year, “the best we can remember,” he said, was 1973.
Originally a small combo started by Engels’ neighbor, pianist Bill DeGleria, the group was christened the Portage Fill-Harmonic. It later transformed into a big band under Seattle trumpet player and Vashon music store owner Monte Sewell.
Pete Welch, of Vashon Events, told The Beachcomber that the band’s popularity stems from its ability to get people of all ages up and dancing.
“They always draw a crowd,” he said, commending the instrumentalists, as well as the singers, Maggie Laird and Lou Mangione.
“When Lou and Maggie get up there, it is almost like you are stepping back in time. It’s just beautiful. They’re crooners,” he said.
Purchase tickets for the concert at vashoncenterforthearts.org. Youths under 18 will be admitted for free.