I am a baby boomer. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means I am the daughter of an American GI who was fortunate enough to return home from World War II, marry and start a family.
My mother had no musical talent, but she could make our home rock with music on the phonograph. I grew up on Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman.
Connie Ericksen has become a good friend when my husband, Ed, and I enjoyed her Payson Junior High School jazz band concerts at a fundraising event in February 2020. The 10th annual Jazz Band Dinner Dance was planned for April 2020. That event was cancelled because of the COVID pandemic. We were pleased when she invited us to sit at her table for the 2021 Deseret Dance on April 17 of this year. There was no dinner served, due to COVID, but the refreshments were wonderful, and the music was fantastic.
She was unsure she was going to be able to hold the concert this year because of the covid problem, but at the beginning of April she was told she could do the performance. There wasn’t time to pull everything together as she had in the past, but it was a great event just the same.
The concert honored Glenn Miller and his band of renown. Glenn was on a flight to a performance near the end of the war when his plane went down in the English Channel. That was a great loss to the music world, but his music lives on today.
The theme for this year’s concert was Get Happy, based on the song of the same name. The band played such greats as Little Brown Jug, Tuxedo Junction and The Last Dance.
Connie’s husband, Boyd, served as the emcee, and he was excellent, with just the right amount of humor and seriousness in his presentation.
At one point in the concert, Connie joined the band and played the drums for one number. And of course, she and Boyd danced the last dance to the song of the same name. She is retiring from the Music Department at Payson Junior High School leaving the band to teach Archeology at UVSC in the fall. Connie Ericksen will be remembered by the many students she has inspired.
It is our hope that someone has been trained to continue holding the jazz concerts in the future.