By Warren Gerds/Green Bay Press Gazette
Zest of big band music and a showing of heartfelt thanks brimmed Monday night in A Tribute to Robert H. Seering at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.
The one-of- a kind event played to more than 800 listeners who came to tip their hat to the founder of the Allouez Village Band and music teacher for hundreds of students.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time,” entertainer David Seering, Robert’s son, told the crowd.
Not only did the concert raise $5,000 to start up the Robert H. Seering Allouez Village Band Scholarship for music students, it allowed David Seering to swing freely in a concert setting in his hometown with the powerhouse Lovell Ives Orchestra.
Also aboard to open the evening was the multitalented Dan Riley, who co-hosts the “Local Cerebral Palsy Telethon” on WBAY, Channel 2, featuring the Lovell Ives Orchestra. The most recent telethon, Seering’s 23rd, and Riley’s 22nd, Raised $1.1 million.
Because the performers know each other well, they were able to smoothly pull off a show filled with tunes loved by millions for generations.
Seering showed his versatility. He sang a lot of Frank Sinatra material, not as a mimic, but as a seasoned singer with style, from his flashy, black-and-white shoes to his bust-out notes.
Highlights of the 2 1/2- hour evening:
- David Seering. He owned the stage.
- Seering’s singing partner, Katie Saunders, who joined him in each half. First, they soared in “The Prayer.” The climax of the show was their re-creation of three enacted songs from “The Phantom of the Opera.” Seering’s voice was starting to flag at that point, and he wrestled to get go where he wanted.
- Riley opened the umpteen hundredth show in his career, showing why he’s so good at it. Not many acts can go from a big band tune to “Danny Boy” to a classical guitar solo to a hopping “Jump Jive and Wail” with such affable skill.
- Ives had his orchestra cooking, and he was full of flint , too. When asked his age, Ives said 78, and David Seering knelt on the stage in homage.
- The closer “New York, New York,” with the city changed to Green Bay- just as Seering, Riley, and the Lovell Ives Orchestra end the telethon every year. It was festive as all get out.
All in all it was a remarkable event.
It recognized Robert Seering for starting something beloved by many, the Allouez Village Band, which plays monthly concerts for free at the Meyer- thanks to ambitious band members and generous sponsors.
In turn, Seering recognized a number of people associated with the band, including current director, Mike Ajango, who “has done such a great job.”
A son (entire family, really) got to put something special together for his father that hundreds of people enjoyed.
On top of it, the show was really, really, good. There were standing ovations. Folks said “wow.” Couples held hands.