18-Piece Band Ready for Outdoor Camrose Performance


They’re getting the band back together…for one night only!

There’s nothing quite like seeing a big jazz band on stage, even more so when that group is the Battle River Big Band.
For a special performance, Camrose’s Battle River Big Band is reuniting for a summer outdoor concert at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre.

It’s the kind of event you’d like to see in Camrose; live music, an outdoor concert, and a nostalgic take on big band jazz standards along with television and movie themes to be played. This concert is the second performance in our brand new Strada Coffee Co. & Artisan Bakery Summer on the Plaza Series with three total performances during August.

We spoke with Erik Olson, one of the band leaders about the concert, which is set for Thursday, Aug. 10 on the Verda McNeill Plaza right on the University of Alberta Augustana Campus in Camrose.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: We’ve received some excited comments from patrons with the return of the Battle River Big Band. What was the impetus behind getting the band back together?

A: The Battle River Big Band was quite active from 2016 to 2019, but COVID put an abrupt stop to rehearsals and performances in 2020. We had not started back up again until now, and being asked to prepare a show for the new Summer on the Plaza series has been the impetus for getting the band back together. We have been having a lot of fun at rehearsals and we are excited to share our music with an audience on Aug. 10!

Q: What can folks expect during your performance?

A: We have crafted our program to include many tunes that will be familiar to the audience, including TV and movie themes, big band classics from the 1930s to ’40s, as well as some pop/rock hits arranged for big band. You’ll hear compositions by Henry Mancini, Irving Berlin, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, and more.

Q: Do we know how many band members are playing on stage and will it be the old school big band look?

A: We will have 18 band members, covering all of the parts of a traditional big band (five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, guitar, bass, drums) as well as Deanna Didriksen, our fantastic vocalist.

Q: When you were approached about doing the show outside what were your thoughts about it?

A: Outdoor shows are an exciting way to share music! It will feel more casual and welcoming than an indoor show, and I think that the sounds of the big band emanating from an outdoor stage will be a fresh way of hearing the band. We are hoping for good weather, but even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, moving inside to the beautiful Cargill Theatre is a great backup plan.

Q: Do you think the band will get back to playing more after the summer show?

A: There is interest in our group performing together again but it usually comes down to having all 18 instrumentalists being available for rehearsals. If we are together for another show, we will make sure to let people know!

Closing out the series is Argentinian singer-songwriter, Paula Neder, who’s journeying to Canada for a special tour, which includes Camrose. She performs Friday, Aug. 18. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Paula Neder is performing in Camrose on Friday, Aug. 18