Tonia Grubb, vocalist
Vocalist Tonia Grubb sings during a rehearsal with the Unforgettable Big Band. The group's first album will be released Friday, Oct. 4. (Bil Bowden photo)

Snappy dressers. Snappy dancers. Smooth, sultry singers.

The swing and big band era has left an indelible mark on American music and culture. The sound is, shall we say, unforgettable.

"I've always loved the swing music; it's my favorite," says Tonia Grubb, the female vocalist for York County's Unforgettable Big Band. "The swing beat that's characteristic of all swing music, it makes it fun to dance to."

New CD: After more than a decade of polishing a repertoire of about 3,000 pieces of music, the 17-piece band and its two vocalists are releasing their first album. The group hand-picked 14 tracks for "American Feeling." The album will make its debut Friday, Oct. 4, when the band plays Elks Lodge No. 213 during York City First Friday events.

Naturally, Grubb and male vocalist James Scofield are featured in the Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole duet "Unforgettable."

"Because our name is 'Unforgettable,' it kind of became one of our signature songs," Grubb says. Though she's a relatively new member of the band, joining in 2011, the lifelong Dover Township resident has been singing solo and in groups for more than two decades.

The album features a mix of instrumental and vocal pieces, including ones originally made famous by big names like Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald.

Scofield "likes the Sinatra songs that soothe, and I like the ones with a good jumpy beat," Grubb says. "It's very thrilling when you're up there and people snap their fingers ... and they holler and hoot while you're singing."

Recording: The band often performs for military groups and at events like First Friday, charity fundraisers and private parties. The album was recorded at the group's home base for rehearsals and equipment storage, the First Presbyterian Church in York.

"It was very exciting. It was the first time most of us had done anything like this," Grubb says of the recording sessions, which took a few weekends.

Unforgettable Big Band
Unforgettable Big Band trombonist Jim Young, left, and trumpeter Randy Gutacker rehearse at First Presbyterian Church in York. The group's first album, "American Feeling," will be available at their performance Friday, Oct. 4, at the Elks Lodge No. 213 in York. (Bil Bowden photo)

The group put a professional at the helm, audio engineer Tom Miller of Tritone Mobile Recording. Miller has worked with James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot, among others, but it was his work with the North Carolina Symphony that made him the man for the job, Grubb says. Balancing the elements of a large orchestral setup was crucial to properly mixing the album.

Miller "handled the recording, mixdown and mastering for the CD, and then we had people in the band who handled the digital editing and worked with (him) on the mix balance and levels" to make sure every track showcased the songs at their best, Grubb says. Unforgettable's assistant director, Lindy Mack, and director, Tom McLaughlin, took a hands-on role in the digital editing and mixing.

More albums could be in the offing for Unforgettable Big Band.

"I am absolutely thrilled," Grubb says. "I've always dreamed of recording an album."

CD and concert

Unforgettable Big Band will perform Friday, Oct. 4, at Elks Lodge No. 213, 223 N. George St., York. The doors open at 6 p.m. The evening begins with dinner followed by a swing dance lesson from the York Social Dance Studio at 7:30 p.m. The band will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. for three hours of music and dancing.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the band and purchase copies of "American Feeling."

Admission is $10. The CD is $15, with discounts available. The album also will be available online from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and CD Baby.

For more information, visit

-- Reach Mel Barber at