Bellefonte

Sunday music brings swing to Talleyrand Park

Theodore Elwood Fuller claps and prepares to sing “The Pennsylvania Polka” with the Second Winds as part of the weekly concert series Sunday at the gazebo in Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte.
Theodore Elwood Fuller claps and prepares to sing “The Pennsylvania Polka” with the Second Winds as part of the weekly concert series Sunday at the gazebo in Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte. nthomas@centredaily.com

If you pass by Talleyrand Park in downtown Bellefonte on a Sunday night, you’re bound to hear music coming from the park gazebo.

Some Sundays it’s jazz. Some Sundays it’s bluegrass. This Sunday, it was a little bit of everything.

Park visitors were treated to the music of the Second Winds and the sounds of swing, big band, polka and rock, plucking favorites from the 1920s through the 1970s. The band is made up of 14 Centre County musicians, according to the band’s website, with a combined age of more than 1,061 years.

After a brief improvisational warm up, the band launched into a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” moving on to classics like Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.,” the “Pennsylvania Polka,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and even “Sweet Georgia Brown” — better recognized as the theme for the Harlem Globetrotters.

The band closed with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” as one couple took to the field and danced.

Residents from Bellefonte and beyond brought out their camping chairs, securing spots throughout the park. On the other side of the park, residents also enjoyed the newly completed waterfront area, kayaking and walking along the creek-front path.

Second Winds “acting leader” John McDermott, who plays rhythm guitar and sings, said he’s been part of the band for six years. McDermott said he grew up on the rock of the ’50s and ’60s — The Beatles and Elvis Presley — but said he was drawn to the band for the big band sound.

Overall, he said, the band covers about 100 tunes, which vary depending on the audience.

“(The audience) gets to hear a different assortment of music than they usually get to hear because we play a lot of the old classics and pop through the ’70s,” he said. “We hear from people that it’s neat hearing some of the older tunes because some of the younger groups don’t play that.”

McDermott said he enjoys the camaraderie he shares with his bandmates, some of whom have been at it a lot longer than he has.

Frederick Brown, Penn State psychology professor and keyboardist, said he’s been in the band since its inception in about 2001. They called themselves the Second Winds because each member was a musician previously, either professionally or in the military.

The band grew out of the senior center dance band, he said. A group from the dance band wanted a little more freedom improvising in their songs, so they broke off and formed Second Winds.

McDermott said he simply enjoys performing with his bandmates and was glad for the strong turnout Sunday evening.

The band appeared as part of the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Society’s Summer Sounds from the Gazebo in Talleyrand Park, described by the BHCA as “a staple in the Bellefonte summer activity menu.” This series began in 1981 and brings nine free concerts at 7 p.m. every Sunday from June to August.

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