Musical groups keep nostalgic tunes alive

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Robert Friedman

Iris Hirsch and Glenn Bullion form the singing duo Rearview Mirror. The pair focus on hits from the 1950s to ‘70s, and sing at a variety of locations in Howard County, as well as other nearby locales.
Photo courtesy of Rearview Mirror

The big band (and small combo) sounds from the not-all-that-distant past are being swung around town these days by the 20-member Ain’t Misbehavin’ Big Band and the Rearview Mirror duo.

Name that tune from the ‘30s to the ‘80s, and these groups will most likely have it on their charts.

Rearview Mirror’s two-person group — Columbia residents Iris Hirsch, vocals, and Glenn Bullion, guitar and vocals — musically reflect many of the sounds of the ‘50s to ‘70s (and occasionally ‘80s), from doo-wop to Motown, from the theme song from the Mickey Mouse club to Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock.”

And the duo offers some special effects that bring a multitude of instruments into play.

 “Unlike most duos, we have a full band sound thanks to modern technology. We bring other instruments’ sounds — horns, strings, piano, drums — electronically over a laptop,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch noted that she and Bullion, who have been members of the Retro Rockets, another local band, decided to go it alone together in 2014 to get through some hard economic times for larger musical outfits.

“Unfortunately, a lot of places no longer can afford a large band, so we decided to form the duo,” she said. Rearview Mirror, she added, is booked through 2017. The twosome mostly plays senior facilities in Howard County, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Memorable music

“No matter where we play, people tell us how our music brings back so many memories — of their proms, their romances, their weddings,” said Hirsch, 61, whom the CBS Baltimore website has cited as one of Baltimore’s top female musicians. 

Rearview Mirror lists more than 300 songs on its website that it is ready, willing and able to perform. Also offered are some samples of the duo’s versatility, including — believe it or not — a moving and grooving rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” on which guitarist Bullion gets in some very swinging guitar licks.

Bullion, 62, who has been performing on guitar since he was 10 years old, was asked where that jazzy sound came from. He suggested that musical genres have a way of flowing into one another.

His guitar favorites, he said, range from Eric Clapton (rock), to B.B. King (blues), Chet Atkins (country) and Charlie Byrd (jazz).  

Rearview Mirror, which just wound up a local gig July 16 at the Howard County Historic Society in Ellicott City, will be performing next on Aug. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Holiday Park Senior Center Dance Club in Wheaton. They will appear Aug. 8, from 1 to 2:30  p.m., at the Rosedale Senior Center in Baltimore.

On Aug. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., the duo will perform in the Kimco Summer Concert Series at the River Hill Village Center in Columbia.

Read more about the duo at http://rearviewmirrorduo.com.

Big Band sounds

Meanwhile, on the orchestra revival front, the Ain’t Misbehavin’ Big Band will be performing arrangements from the ‘30s, ‘40s and beyond by the likes of the Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Woody Herman orchestras.

The 20-member ensemble, led by trombonist Lee Hoffman, has been playing mostly the senior circuit around Maryland since 2000.

Hoffman, 75, who took over the band just four months ago, is an avid aficionado of the Dorsey trombone sound.

“He always had a beautiful, warm tone on his horn,” noted Hoffman, who said he prefers ballads, but the band certainly can swing out such standards as the Woody Herman Herd’s “Woodchoppers Ball.”

While most of the band members are from the Middle River area, there are three Ellicott City hometowners in the orchestra: saxophonist George Stelmach, 75, trombonist Dennis Failing, 55, and trumpet player Gary Rudacille, 70.

The band brings its big sound to the Howard County Historic Society, 8328 Court Rd., on Saturday, July 30, from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $10. For more, see www.aintmisbehavinbigband.com.