How We Began

The history of the Big Band Express as written by Richard Cywinski


Around 1970 a friend called and said they needed clarinet players in the Garden City Concert Band and would I be interested.  I told him I would be glad to come. After I played a few concerts with them they decided to add a dance band type of music for a little variety to their concerts.

We made up a dance band of volunteers from the concert band which consisted of 7 saxes, 6 Trumpets, 5 Trombones, 4 rhythm and piano. We rehearsed and worked up about 6 tunes and thought we sounded pretty good & thought we could play the next concert with the Concert Band.

We played a concert performance as part of the Concert Band at the “O’Leary Center For Performing Arts” in Garden City.  A very nice Auditorium, it went very well and was well received by the audience.

At that time the director was Dale Werner who also played tenor sax and Jim Falk who played trumpet were very active in the dance band formation and thought we could get some paying jobs. I made some folding music stands and light and we bought some more music and we called ourselves “The Metro West Big Band.”

I did my part as librarian, hauler of stands, music, lights and extension cords, microphones and stands , and made set lists of tunes we played.

We played for many weddings and dances throughout the city and an annual outdoor concert at the Garden City Park, and an annual dinner dance at the UAW hall on Van Born road in Romulus. When our band director and Jim Faulk dropped out we started under the name “Big Band Express” with me (Richard Cywinski) as leader.

We have been together as a 17 piece band ever since, and have had many good musicians play with us.

We rehearse on Wednesday evenings in Garden City at the First United Methodist Church at Merriman Rd and Maplewood and play in an annual outdoor concert “Ice Cream Social” in August for them, and many other gigs that come up.

Richard Cywinski
Member of Local #5 AF of M 2024 All Rights Reserved