Severinsen Swings through Sheridan

Doc Severinsen swinging at the WYO. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)
Doc Severinsen swinging at the WYO. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)
Photo by Leslie Stratmoen
Photo by Leslie Stratmoen
Photo by Leslie Stratmoen
Photo by Leslie Stratmoen

A legendary showman swung through Sheridan Wednesday night to play for a packed house at the town's main auditorium. News Director Leslie Stratmoen was there to bring you this story.

Time truly stood still for the flamboyant trumpeter who played his way into our lives for 30 years via TV’s “Tonight Show.” Doc Severinsen proved to be as gracious a performer as he is great Wednesday night as he took his audience in Sheridan on a musical ride with his still unbelievable wailin’ high notes, then handed off the spotlight to his players, which included his long-time sax man, Ernie Watts, the only original band member.

The evening started as one might imagine -- the room abuzz with people excitedly greeting each other as they took their seats, to the muted sounds of horns warming up in the background. It was almost like a party in the intimacy of the 500 seat WYO Theater, with all the visiting going on between family and friends.

And, to many, it was, judging by the whoops and hollers, clapping and cheers given to Doc as he played through the evening in his full regalia, you might say, of pink leather pants, orange shirt and rhinestone studded pastel print coat.

The musical ride just never seemed to let up, through the 2-hour show, and just kept getting bigger and better, if that could be imagined, at this stage of his long career.

He kicked off the concert with his signature tune, the theme song from “The Tonight Show,” then went on to play big-band and jazz classics, like “I Wanta Be Happy,” “September Song,” “When You’re Smilin’” and “Georgia.” All the while, chatting with the audience in between songs, and, at one point, even making a personal plea.

And just when you thought the show had reached its peak with Severinsen's trumpet playing, he’d let his saxes take center stage for a musical duel, or he, himself, would duel it out with his singer, she scatting and he matching her high notes and going even higher on his trumpet.

The audience loved it, and each time showed their appreciation by jumping to their feet for standing ovations.

“This is the best crowd we’ve played for in a long time,” he said, after one of those roof-blowing numbers. By the end, he was saying, “maybe we ought to get together like this, once a year.”

The audience agreed. That was clear, because the standing ovations just kept coming. And by show’s end, when you’d think the 86-year-old showman, at the least, would be out of energy and just want to go home, he stuck around, to sign CDs. After all, that’s what he’d promised during the show – that he’d sign each and every one, whether you liked it or not.

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