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Bluewater Big Band and Michael Vanhevel team up again

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Cathy Dobson  

There’s a timelessness about big band music that keeps Sarnia musician Tim Hummel coming back for more.

“Swing has always held its appeal. This type of music is very demanding but it’s a lot of fun to play,” says the retired principal and high school music teacher.

From Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Michael Buble and Matt Dusk, the big band sound is both a crowd pleaser and welcome challenge for musicians.

“There’s nothing like the raw sound of being with a live band,” said Hummel. “We love playing it.”

By that, he means the Bluewater Big Band, which he has directed for the past two decades.

It started when Hummel and seven other high school music teachers in Sarnia-Lambton initiated a program to bring respected jazz and swing performers from outside the area for clinics with local music students.

“The teachers formed a band to play back up for the artist and we put on a concert at night,” he said.

Hummel, a trumpet player, recruited an additional eight friends and teachers and the 16-piece Bluewater Big Band was born.

Years later, the band continues to practice monthly and perform a couple of shows a year. Several members also play with the International Symphony Orchestra (ISO) and are part of the pit bands for Theatre Sarnia. Local drumming great, Johnny Bond, was a part of the band for some time.

Along the way, Hummel met singer Michael Vanhevel, who was once a student of two Bluewater Big Band members teaching at North Lambton in Forest.

In high school, Vanhevel was really interested in the crooners of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Now, at age 26, he’s a Sheridan College grad successfully pursuing a singing career.

“Michael is really having some high profile gigs doing Sinatra and other crooners,” said Hummel.  “He has a real grasp of the style.”

In November 2017, Vanhevel and the Bluewater Big Band collaborated for the first time with a fundraiser for the ISO.

On Feb. 10, Sarnians will again have an opportunity to hear Vanhevel sing with the Bluewater Big Band at the Imperial Theatre.

Ticket holders will enjoy classics from the likes of Sinatra, Michael Buble, Bobby Darin and Dean Martin and can look forward to favourites like Come Fly With Me, New York New York, and Me and Mrs. Jones.

Members of the Bluewater Big Band include Al Weiss, Frank Brennan, Rick McGregor, Ken Foster and Randy Bayley on sax; Ken VanEwyk, Geoff Gander, Bob Purner, Micah Volz on trombone; Bill Nelson, Chris Coyle, Tim Hummel and Ken Robinson on trumpet; pianist Dave Williams; Andy Lloyd on bass and drummer Rob LaRose.



What: Singer Michael Vanhevel and the Bluewater Big Band.

When: Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m.

Where: The Imperial Theatre

Details: Tickets, $30, available from the theatre box office or online at



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