Big Band of the Week – Touch of Class
Today’s installment is the last in our 33-part Big Band of the Week series. Who would have thought at the outset that there were so many big bands in the Baltimore metro area or such a wide variety? if you haven’t read previous profiles we encourage you to do so; and to check out some of the area’s big bands as you see them listed on our calendar.
This big band, now in is 16th year, is sponsored by the Boumi Shrine Center; yes, the Masonic fraternity of men who wear red fezzes, parade behind the wheels of teeny red cars, and donate a significant amount of the money they raise to a network of 22 Shriners Hospitals throughout North America.
Touch of Class, led by former Navy trombonist Harry Caughey (pronounced ‘KAW-hee’), grew out of the Boumi Brass Band. The big band, comprised of 20 members, plays standards from the ‘30s through the ‘70s. Caughey says, “If it’s printed on a piece of paper we’ll take a crack at it.” Touch of Class generally performs at retirement centers, assisted living communities and Boumi Shrine Center events. They generally ask for compensation of $200 – 300 but that all goes toward expenses and/or the hospitals. No one is paid.
The band practices most Tuesday nights at the Boumi Shrine Center in Rosedale. “When you’re dealing with amateurs you need to rehearse,” says Caughey. The band director says that he maintains a roster of 25 musicians but would like to build that up to 35, adding, “We always welcome guys to stop in and sit in. If they want to play with us we’ll work with them,” says Caughey.
This article continues our series on area big bands — if you missed any of them, you can catch them here at Big Band of the Week.