The Return of Grand Junction’s ‘Rock N Swing’
Have you been out and about in Grand Junction and found yourself hearing music from artists like Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Jobim? Chances are you were listening to Western Colorado's "Rock N' Swing." After a six-month break courtesy of COVID-19, the guys are back as of this Thursday, September 3.
You've probably heard Rock N' Swing at either the Grand Junction Moose Lodge, one of the local wineries, the Market on Main, or private function like a wedding or anniversary party. They're a five-piece band specializing in standards and the occasional 60s, 70's, or even 80's Rock tune. More than anything, they're a "dance band" geared towards the crowd that likes to cut a rug.
Thanks to COVID-19, the last six months of the band's engagements had to be canceled. As of this Thursday, September 3, Rock N' Swing will make their first public appearing in six months at Grand Junction's Market on Main.
You probably know the members of the band. The band leader, Frank Bregar, has played the valley for at least four decades, playing sax and singing in bands like The Frank Bregar Orchestra, The Men of Music, Clark Gault's Swing City Express, the Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra, the Hit Squad, and more.
Keyboardist Mike Gazdak has performed with most of those same bands, and does a solo piano gig at various assisted living centers around the valley. You may have seen him playing accordion at the Grand Junction Farmer's Market.
Guitarist and singer Greg Achord has played Grand Junction since the 70s with bands like Rumor Hazzit, the Grand Junction Allstars, and the Desert Flyer band. Greg carries the vocals on some of the more "contemporary" tunes.
Drummer Pat Olson has been a Grand Junction fixture for ages. In addition to playing with Rock N' Swing, he also sits in with the Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra, the Swing City Express, and can be seen regularly with the Loose Cannon Band. When not playing drums, Pat is a successful restaurateur. In addition, he's an artist. You've seen his sculptures all over the valley. One example would be the 9/11 remembrance sculpture on display at the Grand Junction Police Department.
Lastly, the bass player is some hack, namely me, who doubles as an alleged radio DJ. It just so happens the very first gig I ever played was with Frank Bregar and Mike Gazdak back in 1989 at what was then called the Grand Junction Hilton. Since then, I've played with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, the Messiah Choral Society, the Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra, Mariachi San Jose, the St. Joseph's Catholic Church Praise Band, and the Desert Flyer Band.
Here's a short video of Rock N' Swing, with special guest Larry Cappetto, doing a Buddy Holly tribute on the anniversary of "the day the music died."
To my knowledge, Rock N' Swing is about the only band in the valley playing both Glenn Miller and Bob Segar, both Benny Goodman and Billy Joel. Catch the show if you can. Downbeat is at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the chrome buffalo on the southwest corner of 4th and Main. Smart money says there will be a "Marvin Sighting" at that gig.