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Joe Gransden and His Big 16 Piece Band
By:  Lauren H., Teen Press Corps Member

A couple of months ago my parents reconnected with an old high school friend of theirs, Wes Funderburk, whom my dad was in band with. Through this reconnection they were introduced to the jazz music of Joe Gransden and his 16 piece big band, which Wes composes, arranges, and plays in. After attending a show at Café 290, where Joe and the band play every 1st and 3rd Monday, they decided that we needed to see a show as a family. So on December 17 we ventured out to the Roswell Art Center to see I’ll Be Home for Christmas, part of a four concert series with the Georgia Ensemble. So after a lovely and filling dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, although it’s not the best place a week after having your wisdom teeth out (thank God for mac and cheese and baked potatoes), we headed on.

When we arrived, almost an hour early whoops, the crowd was small, but as the show was sold out, we knew that it wouldn’t stay that way for long. After we got our tickets and settled into a corner, the crowd began to grow. Now you would think that for a jazz concert it would be mostly older people, maybe a few families like ours, but let me tell, you that wasn’t the case. There were people of all ages, all types of dress, and all levels of sobriety thanks to the bar in the lobby.

When the door opened we all filed in and found our seats. The stage was set up with a grand piano on the left side and chairs for the musicians split up in rows by section, with the saxophone section in the front. A single microphone stood alone in the center front of the stage with a trumpet stand sitting next to it. As the 16 piece band came out they were met with cheers and whoops from the crowd. When all the musicians were seated they played a quick little instrumental to get the crowd going. As the last notes floated across the crowd from the large band, Joe entered the stage, and the crowd erupted with applause. Now I’m told that the introduction from Joe that followed was much more, should we say family friendly, than usual at Cafe290, although I can’t personally attest to that. As it was a Christmas show, they played all the classics. From Frosty to Rudolph to the Christmas Song and Let It Snow, they were all there. As you looked around the room everyone was singing along, and in between songs the room was filled with laughter from the bands interactions.

All around the night was filled with wonderful music and great laughs. I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to see them again.

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