A class act
By Hank Lohmeyer
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:25 am
Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Class Act performed an hour-long concert for residents and staff at Horizons in Eckert recently.
Music audiences in this area have a new entertainment option to enjoy, a real "Class Act." The group offers a wide range of classic songs to enjoy; a performance style that is at once both engaging and relaxing; and a catalog of numbers presented with a true love of the music they play.
Class Act is a unique musical ensemble that offers its listeners a refreshingly light and breezy, yet thoroughly professional performance of a wide range of popular music. This group performs musical numbers that everyone has enjoyed enough to have learned the words to, and that's entertainment.
The members of Class Act are veteran performers. Doug Hamby of Eckert is on keyboard and backup vocals. Providing lead vocals and the group's performance spark is Linda Scheele of Delta. And on guitar is Bill Hansen of Delta. Class Act sometimes appears in duet with Scheele and Hamby on stage.
The group has been performing for about a year as Class Act in venues around Delta County. They performed as a duet act for the Chapel of the Cross final concert in August, an "open mic" song fest. The group has also appeared at the 4B's Brewery in Cedaredge and at Annie's Pizzeria. Class Act currently has agreements to perform monthly for residents at four area senior citizen facilities.
The Class Act brand of light, popular music combined with the musicians' obvious enjoyment of performing creates a level of connection with listeners that adds dimensions of enjoyment.
The group has found a musical niche that is well outside the envelope of the familiar country, rock and blues genres. Some might characterize the group's style as a "retro" type of music. But a label like that completely misses the happy personality and feeling these entertainers convey when they play for live audiences. Their style calls to mind a fun and intimate cabaret type of musical experience.
Hamby explains, "We can arrange our musical sets to concentrate on big band, lounge, '60s, or '80s pop genre sounds." The group performs music from the 1930s through the 1980s. And Scheele notes a certain fondness in the group's musical catalog for "Italian love songs." In fact, any millennial who has never even heard of a "crooner" would discover a new level of musical enjoyment at a Class Act performance. The group performs songs about life and romance from a time in America long before political correctness taught men and women to quit trusting one another.
The members of Class Act came together locally in a round-about sort of way. Bill Hansen has been a resident of the area south of Delta for 18 years. He has known Doug Hamby for the 11 years that Hamby and his wife have lived in Eckert. Hamby has a bachelor's degree in radio, TV and film from Cal State Northridge.
Here in Delta, Hansen and Hamby have collaborated musically as members of the worship team of Delta's First Baptist Church. The two have also played together with another local band, Route 66, a group that specialized in rock music.
It was the Route 66 connection that eventually brought the gifted voice of Scheele into the Class Act musical equation. Scheele has lived in Delta County with her husband, Don, for 17 years. She performed professionally in southern California before moving to this area. Her previous professional work in the 1960s included touring Viet Nam with a group called The Hawaii International Review which provided entertainment for American troops stationed there to fight the war. The Hawaii International Review toured Viet Nam for six months and performed as an opening act for some famous U.S.O. shows of the era, she explained.
Scheele stopped performing in public after moving to Delta County even though an interest in music remained.Three years ago as Hansen and Hamby were playing with Route 66, Scheele saw their performance at a Cedaredge AppleFest. She decided that she wanted to audition for the group, and she landed a singing role.
Hansen and Hamby, now becoming acquainted with the range and quality of Scheele's singing voice, came upon the idea almost simultaneously of forming a group that would feature her musical talent and performance skills.
Scheele has a true gift for connecting with audiences. She jokes and laughs with the audience between the numbers. Her formal evening gown sways as she moves with the music. Scheele admitted before a recent show that she still gets "butterflies" before going on stage, a fact which no doubt helps energize the group's performances.
The two gents are attired in formal, pure white tux jackets and bow ties that lend a classy "big band" feeling to their performance, and that tell the audience, "We are here to perform and to entertain for you." This group doesn't just play songs; they are professional performers playing the music they are really into and enjoy.
The style of music and the performance they have developed has a truly unique flavor in this area. Their large catalog of music includes numbers for many types of occasions and venues. Class Act recently gave an hour-long concert for residents of Horizons at Eckert.
The Horizons concert included songs that have been performed by Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Billy Ekstine, a famous number from the movie "Casablanca," and the Rogers and Hart show tune "Blue Moon." Selections varied with well-known numbers by Tony Orlando and Dawn, and by Rod Stewart.
Class Act entertains with music that draws a listener in and brings him out on the other side feeling like he has had a good time and knows the experience that the song writer meant to convey, and they do it in a uniquely musical way.