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Moonlight Concert in Paradise Aug. 10 to honour one of their own

The 20th edition of the Moonlight Concert in Paradise is set for Aug. 10 when the Annapolis Big Band takes the stage at Ellenhurst on the banks of the Annapolis River in Paradise. Admission is by donation. This year’s concert is a tribute to former a band member, the late Chris French.
The 20th edition of the Moonlight Concert in Paradise is set for Aug. 10 when the Annapolis Big Band takes the stage at Ellenhurst on the banks of the Annapolis River in Paradise. Admission is by donation. This year’s concert is a tribute to former a band member, the late Chris French. - Lawrence Powell
PARADISE, N.S. —

David and Linda Hankinson have been hosting the biggest, brassiest outdoor concert of the summer going on 20 years now, drawing Big Band era fans from all over the world - by the hundreds.

It’s no exaggeration for the Paradise couple to have 1,400 people in their backyard.

And the 20th edition promises all the romance, nostalgia, and danceability you can pack into two and a half hours under the moonlight at the stunning grounds of their estate called Ellenhurst.

So, pack your picnic basket for the evening of Aug. 10 because the Hankinsons host a concert that begs for food and drink and cuddling close as the Annapolis Big Band draws inspiration from the likes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.

The music of the 1940s war era was all about mood. Music from the swing era wound you up or slowed you down and, of course, helped take your mind off what was happening in the world.

“Tunes such as Tuxedo Junction, Satin Doll, Moonlight Serenade, and In the Mood helped folks cope with the difficult war years,” this year’s concert program notes. “Musically, the ‘40s was a time of a special brand of happy music known as swing. While commercial music has evolved through variations of rock and rap, the big bands of the swing era have never really disappeared.”

The Annapolis Big Band carries on the tradition while also updating their playlist to include more recent style like light rock and funk. It plays authentic arrangements of well-known tunes, with more than 100 in their repertoire including ballads, jive tunes, waltzes, rock, and funk.

David Hankinson is one of the trumpets in the band. There are 18 musicians playing arrangements written in the typical big band format of five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, and a rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass, and drums.

Vocals will be by Andy Duinker and Margo Corkum.

This year’s concert is a tribute to Chris French, a member of the Annapolis Big Band who passed away earlier this year. Hankinson described French, a father of seven, as a quiet and thoughtful man.

“He was very interested in music education. Worked with the young people at the high school in Middleton – the brass choir – wrote music for them, conducted them,” said Hankinson. “He was working with the next generation of musicians coming along. Quiet, unassuming, and always there to help.”

The Moonlight Concert in Paradise welcomes everybody, and people attend by donation.

Hankinson said after expenses, the proceeds from the concert will go to the French family and the new Paradise Historical Association.

Dozens of volunteers from Paradise and the broader community help make the concert possible, including Lawrencetown firefighters, Annapolis County Ground Search and Rescue, and donations such as the golf carts from Rafuse Golf Carts.

If you go:

Watch the Annapolis Big Band perform on the picturesque Ellenhurst grounds (10252 Highway 1 in Paradise) from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 10.

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