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Our history is spelled out below, year by year. Click on any numbered link below to go directly to a particular year.
Or, you can also print a PDF of any single year by clicking on the Adobe PDF icons.

For a "Year in Review" summary of our first six years, click on any of the following:







2004 to Present

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1998 1998 (for this year only)

After more than three years of managing and playing in a Baltimore-based big band, trumpet player Rob Leonard decided it was time to step out and start his own swing orchestra. Rob wanted to do things a little differently from what he was accustomed to with his former group. He wanted to charge a lower fee to customers and audiences, so more people could enjoy the great music of the swing era; he wanted to compensate his band members more generously than what he was accustomed to receiving as a side man; and he wanted to search for, and acquire, musical arrangements that more closely resembled the originals, written during the great American swing era. He also wanted to have a band that didn't try to be all things to all people; rather, his band was going specialize in one thing -- big band music.

To Rob, the clear and sensible way to start a new band was to attract the finest musicians available. One element of the classic big bands that defined the swing era to Rob was a great, versatile, dynamic vocalist. Teresa Piermatteo, a Pennsylvania native, had been singing with the other group for about six months. In Rob's opinion, she wasn't getting the best charts or the spotlight she deserved, considering her talent. Teresa was the first official member of Rob's new band. The two then invited other musicians from their former band to join the new venture. Trumpet players Scott Stansfield and Randy VanEpps, and drummer Steve Conaway, quickly signed on. Rob also tried to pry saxophonist George Wright from the other band, but George's loyalty to the group kept him from joining Rob's band full-time.

The new band members convinced Rob that his band would soon boast 18 great musicians from the Baltimore, Washington DC, Virginia, and Pennsylvania area. The band's first rehearsal took place at a dance club in Annapolis, MD called Club Hollywood. Eight musicians showed up, including Craig Fager, who would go on to become the lead trombone player in the new band. Rob was concerned with the low turnout for rehearsal, especially since, in his confidence that his new orchestra would be a tremendous success, he had already booked the band's first job for June -- just two months away. Believing that the Annapolis site was not central enough geographically to attract the caliber of musicians he sought, Rob contracted with a small church in Ellicott City, MD for rehearsal space. The new location was closer to Baltimore, and easier to get to from Washington DC and Northern Virginia. One week later, at the second rehearsal, the band comprised a dozen members.

By now, traveled musicians such as Chris Poole, Andrew Mitroff, Frank Thibeault, and John Pritchett had joined the group, which was at this time still without a name. Additional musicians that Rob had performed with joined as well, including trombonist Todd Clontz, trumpet players Mark Kelly and John Wagner, and guitarist Jason Marsheck. Other players followed, including tenor saxophonist Geoff Stewart and trombonist Gretchen Hopper. In preparation for the first job, now less than two months away, the band read down more than 75 charts over the course of the next two rehearsals, discarding the arrangements they didn't like, and keeping the best of the bunch. By the end of April, the band's first client needed a contract for the June performance. Rob was asked what name was to appear on the billing. In a phone conversation, he thought quickly about a name, a logo, and a possible theme song. He also recalled his favorite bandleader, Glenn Miller, once saying, "A band should have a personality all its own." With this in mind, Rob concluded that his band should be associated with something special -- something that is so rare that it only happens once in a blue moon. And thus, with confidence, he told his client, "Our name is Blue Moon Big Band."

On May 1, 1998, Rob officially established the band, depositing $500 into a checking account at a local bank. With design help from childhood friend and artist Tommy D'Aquino, Rob created the Blue Moon Big Band logo -- a caricature moon playing a trumpet through moon beams. The band has never changed its logo.

Rob wanted to start the band out right, so he took out a second mortgage on his newly built home in Carroll County, MD, in order to buy sound equipment, music stands with the band's logo, and approximately 300 new music arrangements. Before the band took the stage for its first performance, Rob had sunk the extent of his personal savings into his new venture. The investment would eventually pay off.

The band was a tremendous success, and the performance schedule quickly filled with engagements. County fairs, dances, and in August, the band's first wedding reception. Musicians came and went during the first several months. Frank Thibeault left the group due to the demanding schedule of outside performances, which opened the door for tenor saxophonist Brendan Carniaux to join the group. Shortly afterwards, a seasoned pianist from Virginia named Dave Witherspoon joined, and Geoff Stewart left the sax section due to an overly demanding work schedule. Jason Marsheck was forced to leave the group as well, due to health concerns. Shannon Loy stepped in to fill the newly vacated tenor sax chair and Craig Brackins, a Tennessee native who grew up on bluegrass music, joined as the new guitarist. At about the same time, bassist Kevin Taylor joined the band. By the Fall of 1998, Blue Moon Big Band had earned a small following in the greater Baltimore area. Rob's next goal was to break into the Washington DC swing market, where several talented bands had been performing for years.

At an October 30 masquerade ball at the historic Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo, just outside of Washington DC, Blue Moon played to a packed house. Several hundred dancers had to be turned away, as word of this new Baltimore-based swing orchestra had spread. Even today, many of the band members recall the Glen Echo performance, where the Blue Moon dance was ranked as the area's #1 Lindy event for the week, to be the most exciting and energizing performance the band has ever had.

The final key step that Rob felt the band needed to complete before the end of the year was a recording, to show that the group planned to make its mark in the Mid-Atlantic region quickly. And so, after just three sessions at the Sound Works recording studio in nearby Hanover, PA, Blue Moon Big Band completed its first CD, a 16-song collection of standards, ballads, and classic swing tunes. The project was completed on November 1, exactly 6 months to the day of the band's official inception. Phil Piermatteo, father of the band's vocalist, purchased the first Blue Moon Big Band CD ever sold. Following the CD release, vocalist Teresa Piermatteo was contracted for the first of several studio recordings for radio jingles in the Maryland and Pennsylvania areas.

With the release of the "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" CD, Blue Moon followed with three live television performances, including an appearance on the now defunct "Rodricks for Breakfast" Christmas special, filmed at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Jazz legends Ethel Ennis and Cyrus Chestnut shared the stage with the band, and Cyrus even sat in with the band on "The Way You Look Tonight." After a handful of additional dances and wedding receptions in Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Central Maryland, Blue Moon Big Band finished out the year with nearly a dozen performances under its belt, and was rolling toward 1999 on a very good note.

In 1998, the band adopted "Blue Moon" as its closing song at performances.

1998 1999 (for this year only)

The band kicked off 1999 with a series of performances in Baltimore with Chuck Alexander's Friday Night Swing Dance Club, a partnership that would continue over the course of the next year and a half, where dancers poured out month after month to see and hear Baltimore's newest swing band. In April, Blue Moon got its first "big job" when a worldwide medical company out of Florida hired them for its annual awards dinner at the newly constructed Baltimore Convention Center, just across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The band entertained an audience of more than 3,000 and shared the stage with television's Roy Firestone as the featured acts.

Blue Moon continued to take jobs for corporate events, wedding receptions, and dances. Two churches contracted the group for annual fund-raiser dances, Mt. Hebron Presbyterian Church in Ellicott City, MD, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Freedom, PA. The band continued to play every Spring at both churches for several years thereafter. More wedding receptions, wine festivals, and private parties would follow, and the band would play more than two dozen events throughout the course of the year.

The band had been receiving a fair amount of air time on local radio stations, primarily an AM station in Baltimore, WLG Legends Radio. But, on February 23, 1999, Blue Moon Big Band received its first national recognition via the airwaves when its vocal arrangement of Gershwin's "Somebody Loves Me," from the band's first CD, was played as part of a big band and jazz segment on National Public Radio's "Swinging Down the Lane." The song opened the hour-long broadcast, which also included music from Tony Bennet, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the Eddie Reed Big Band, was aired on over 40 radio stations, nationwide.

With the departure of Mark Kelly from the trumpet section and an opening in the trombone line, Tom Jackson and Chris "Moose" Skowronski joined the band. Bassist Gary Richardson also joined the band, replacing David Sayen who spent a short time with the group prior to moving to California. Early in the year, the band also teamed up with the Pennsylvania-based Colgan Brothers Band, led by Pat Colgan, Blue Moon's studio producer. Joining Blue Moon on several occasions throughout the Winter and Spring, the CBB, a classic rock band by trade, added a new sound and style to the Blue Moon repertoire.

During the Summer of 1999, Blue Moon Big Band recorded its second CD, this time a live recording taped during a dance festival in Salisbury, MD. With 18 tracks, the new CD, "Blue Moon Big Band Swingin' Live!" offered a raw, live side of the band that conveyed the energy and excitement the band members had for the music they played. Several of the band members wrote off the second recording, though, believing it lacked the polished, high-intensity sound that had made the band so popular. Nonetheless, the recording sold well and Blue Moon Big Band now had two CDs under its belt.

In September, bandleader Rob Leonard and vocalist Teresa Piermatteo were married at the Valencia Ballroom in York, PA, and the natural choice for entertainment was Blue Moon Big Band. The band dazzled the wedding guests for four hours, performing on the same stage as legends such as Benny Goodman, Harry James, the Dorsey Brothers and Glenn Miller. In fact, it was the very stage where Glenn Miller told his band members in 1937, on New Year's Eve, that he was dissolving his orchestra. Of course, the legendary bandleader re-formed the Glenn Miller Orchestra just months later, after finding that classic "Miller sound."

Rob Leonard was hearing more and more throughout the year that potential clients loved the big band look and sound of Blue Moon, but often could not fit the 19-piece band in certain venues. In response, Rob formed Li'l Bit of Blue, Blue Moon's partner ensemble. Comprising a four-piece rhythm section and reed player Andrew Mitroff at the front, Li'l Bit of Blue would soon become as popular as the full orchestra.

In 1999, the band adopted "The Party's Over" as its closing song at performances.

1998 2000 (for this year only)

In 2000, Leonard's bands played nearly every weekend from March through the end of the year. By now, both Blue Moon Big Band and Li'l Bit of Blue had become highly sought-after wedding and dance bands. In addition to playing at venues such as the York Country Club in Pennsylvania, Baltimore's Pimlico Race Track, and the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom several times each throughout the course of the year, Blue Moon had earned a strong following of swing dancers.

Among them was John "Psychoboy" McCalla, the owner of a Maryland construction company who was known throughout the area as the most energetic dancer on the floor. Psychoboy just wanted to dance, and he latched onto the straight-ahead style of Blue Moon. Soon, the band and the dancer would hook up, with Psychoboy giving hour-long dance lessons and then Blue Moon swinging the night away. The relationship was a hit from the start, and the two would work together on a handful of occasions by the end of the year. A year later, Psychoboy and his partner, Heather "The Feather" Coyne, were named the 2001 American Lindy Hop Champions.

On May 9, the band was once again spotlighted on the NPR program, "Swingin' Down the Lane." This time, host and producer David Miller selected Blue Moon's version of "Caravan", which joined a line-up of music from Natalie Cole, The Airmen of Note, The Ray Anthony Orchestra, and the BBC Big Band.

In October, the members of Blue Moon decided it was time to take a cut at hosting their own dance. And so, with a full moon on Friday the 13th, Blue Moon Big Band filled the 6,000 square foot dance floor at the Towson American Legion Post 22. Joining the band once again was the Colgan Brothers Band from Pennsylvania. Teaming with Teresa Leonard on a handful of classic vocal quartets, the CBB was a tremendous hit with the dance audience. Each of the singers also performed a few solo tunes with the band, bringing a new dimension to the music of Blue Moon Big Band.

At about the same time, drummer Marty Knepp joined the band, bringing a new feel and energy to Blue Moon's rhythm section that the band had been seeking since its beginning. Straight-ahead on the standards and grooving on the West Coast charts, Knepp completed a rhythm section that would become the staple of the band's driving sound. Shortly after, saxophonist Steve Szyjka, a music student at Towson University in Baltimore, auditioned with the band and stepped in as the new lead tenor player, a tough role to fill considering the talent that filled the other chairs in the sax section -- a section that had at times been referred to as the "sweetest sounding sax section on the east coast."

In 2000, the band adopted "Two O'clock Jump" as its closing song at performances.

1998 2001 (for this year only)

In February 2001, Blue Moon hosted its second event in Towson, "A Valentine's Weekend Swing Dance." It was the final Blue Moon Big Band performance for bassist Gary Richardson and tenor saxophonist Shannon Loy, who each had decided to cut back on their schedules. A few weeks later, drummer Marty Knepp invited Roland Dorsey, a bass player from Abingdon, MD, to sit in at a rehearsal. Dorsey's feel for the music was an instant fit to the Blue Moon sound, and he joined the band that evening. With the departure of Loy on tenor sax, Geoff Stewart rejoined the band the same week.

The band performed at about a half dozen venues during the first two months of 2001. During the stretch, bandleader Rob Leonard had been continuously approached with inquiries as to why he no longer played with the band, and instead only served as bandleader and master of ceremonies. Finally giving in to the audiences' requests and the coaxing of a handful of the band's members, he picked up his trumpet and stepped in front of the group as a soloist for the first time in nearly three years, at the band's annual dance at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in mid-April. The bandleader's first appearance as trumpet player since June 1998 was highlighted with solos on Gene Krupa's "Boogie Blues," Glenn Miller's "In the Mood," and the band's penultimate closer, "Two O'clock Jump."

One of the most frustrating things for Blue Moon's bandleader was the difficulty in finding good arrangements of certain songs. Then he found Myles Collins, a band leader and arranger in Kent, England. Rob ordered a vocal arrangement of "Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen" -- not just any arrangement, though. He wanted the arrangement that the Benny Goodman Orchestra and Martha Tilton performed at Carnegie Hall in 1938 during the famed concert that forever changed American jazz. Collins' arrangement was perfect, note for note, and soon Blue Moon Big Band was increasing its library once again with titles such as "Route 66," "Stuff Like That There," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and other wonderful Collins arrangements. By the end of the year, the band had added nearly two dozen charts from the England-based arranger.

Blue Moon's partner ensemble, Li'l Bit of Blue, was still growing in popularity in the Washington DC / Baltimore area, and had put several wedding receptions on the Spring and Summer calendar. During the last weekend of April, vocalist Teresa Leonard appeared with the quintet for the first time, adding a new dimension to the already successful all-star ensemble, which now included David Cosby on guitar, Eric Byrd on piano, Gary Richardson on bass, Marty Knepp on drums, and original member Andrew Mitroff on reed and flute.

On May 1, Blue Moon Big Band celebrated the beginning of its fourth year since its humble beginnings in 1998.

Early in August, bandleader Rob Leonard and vocalist Teresa Leonard traveled to London to meet Myles Collins, the music arranger with whom they had been conducting business over the past several months. It was the first time meeting in person, as all business had previously been worked out via email and the Internet. At Pepy's Bar, near the Tower of London, Rob and Teresa finally met Myles, a perfumer by trade. During the meeting, Myles delivered his latest arrangement for the band, the Latin classic "Sway," which was ironically played over the bar's soundtrack just minutes after the exchange!

In September, Towson University music major Katie Grimm joined Blue Moon's sax section on tenor. A month later, on October 13, Blue Moon Big Band teamed up once again with The Colgan Brothers Band, this time for a "Rock & Swing Into the Night" concert at the 700+ seat amphitheater at the Hagerstown Community College in Maryland. The two bands shared the same stage for four non-stop hours of classic rock and big band music.

On December 7, the band released its third recording, "Nice Work if You Can Get It," a 20-song collection of swing, blues, and big band tunes. The band sold nearly 300 copies by Christmas!

In 2001, the band adopted Glenn Miller's "Adios" as its closing song at performances.

1998 2002 (for this year only)

The year started off with bandleader Rob Leonard adding nearly 100 new arrangements to the Blue Moon Big Band repertoire, many courtesy of arranger Myles Collins, in response to audiences' requests for more up-tempo vocal charts for singer Teresa Leonard.

May was a particularly big month for the band, as the group was featured on a one-hour broadcast of National Public Radio's "Swingin' Down the Lane" program, which aired across the country on over 40 radio stations throughout the week of May 13. By the end of June, more than 50 U.S. radio stations had aired music from Blue Moon Big Band.

As a result of the radio airings and the popularity of the "Nice Work if You Can Get It" CD, orders for the new recording continued to come in throughout the first half of the year. By July 1, Blue Moon Big Band had customers in 49 of the 50 U.S. states (only Colorado was without a Blue Moon recording), and in 9 international territories, including Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Spain.

In early August, trombonist Gretchen Hopper moved to Cincinnati, OH to pursue a doctorate degree in music. The newly vacated chair was quickly filled by territory music veteran Bob Jordan.

On November 2, the band made its New York City debut as the headline performer at the Swing 46 Jazz & Supper Club. As reported by the club's manager, Blue Moon's performance drew the largest audience in club history, with dancers and dining guests packed wall to wall. Responding to roars for encore numbers at the conclusion of the performance, the band enjoyed several minutes of standing ovations and a roar of approval that carried out to the streets of Manhattan. The performance marked trumpet player Tom Jackson's final appearance with the band, as he had made the decision to start up his own jazz quartet. Josh Hillard, a Pennsylvania native, stepped in to fill the newly vacated spot in the trumpet section.

Sales of CDs and cassettes in New York City helped to put Blue Moon Big Band over the mark of 2,000 total recordings sold.

In 2002, the band continued using Glenn Miller's "Adios" as its closing song at performances.

1998 2003 (for this year only)

The year started out in full stride for Blue Moon Big Band. By mid-January, the band had already contracted engagements for every month in 2003, with the exception of November (with nearly 20 performances on the calendar, including three during a seven day stretch at the end of March). On some nights, both Blue Moon and Li'l Bit of Blue were performing in the Baltimore-Washington DC area.

Blue Moon had a busy schedule lined up for Valentines' weekend, but two events were postponed due to what was reported as the biggest snow storm in Baltimore's history. The storm dumped approximately 30 inches of snow on the Maryland-Pennsylvania area. On Saturday, the band had planned to entertain at a benefit dance for Jason Marsheck, the band's original guitarist. Jason had been at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington for the past several months fighting a tough battle against Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which had advanced to lymphoid blast crisis. With the event rescheduled twice due to heavy snowfall in the Baltimore and surrounding areas, it was finally re-slated for February 22. The event would have marked the final performance with the band for trumpet player Randy Van Epps, one of the group's original members. But, with the second rescheduling, Randy was not able to join the band on February 22. Patrick Gleason, an Army Bandsman who had been sitting in with Blue Moon off and on for the past year, stepped in immediately to fill the chair. The event raised approximately $10,000 for the Marsheck family's medical fund.

On Sunday, February 16, the band had planned to team up with long-time friends the Colgan Brothers Band for a Valentines Weekend Rock & Swing concert at the 800-seat Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, PA. Similar to the 2001 event which showcased the two bands together, each group had been scheduled to perform music from its own repertoire and then join forces in the final set for 4-part vocal big band songs, featuring Teresa Leonard and the CBB vocalists (Pat Colgan, Mike Hirsh, Brian Colgan) and then some classic rock from the CBB with 13 horns and the added rhythm section from Blue Moon! With the inclement weather, the event was rescheduled for March 23. The concert was to be the final performance with the band for pianist Dave Witherspoon. Music veteran Mark Cook stepped in to fill the spot in the rhythm section at the concert. Following Witherspoon's departure, pianist Clem Ehoff, who had been performing with the big band and also the smaller ensemble off and on for the past few years, took over the vacant rhythm spot for Blue Moon.

Amidst all the personnel changes, bandleader Rob Leonard began making plans for the group's fourth recording, slated as a two-CD set of Christmas standards as well as special arrangements written exclusively for Blue Moon Big Band. As the band read through charts during the early part of the year, they scheduled studio dates at Sound Works Audio Productions in Hanover, PA (production site of the band's first three CDs), and marked early November for release of the new project.

From June through August, the band conducted a special "winery series" at area Pennsylvania and Maryland vineyards. Even with a season of record rainfall, the band entertained large audiences at sites such as Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, MD and Naylor Wine Cellars in Stewartstown, PA. At some of the events, Blue Moon was joined by friends Pat Colgan and Mike Hirsh for guest vocal tunes of crowd favorites like "Mack the Knife", "Blue Skies", "Come Fly With Me", and "It's Only a Paper Moon", as well as duets with the band's vocalist, Teresa Leonard, including "Makin' Whoopee," "Unforgettable," and songs from the upcoming Christmas recording.

In late September, the band's partner jazz ensemble, Li'l Bit of Blue, made its first appearance at the annual Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster, MD. The group included Andrew Mitroff on sax, Roland Dorsey on bass, Dave Cosby on guitar, Marty Knepp on drums, and guest vocalist Michelle Walker. That same month, trumpet player Bobby List left the big band to pursue other interests. His replacement was Dave Russell, a versatile player from Baltimore who quickly established himself as a key utility player in the section, able to play lead, solo, or whatever was necessary of him.

A busy spring and summer closed out with four wedding receptions during the first two weeks of October and the final recording sessions for Blue Moon Big Band's fourth CD, "Baby, it's Cold Outside," which was released on December 1. Over 500 CDs and cassettes were sold by the end of the year. On December 21, the band performed its "Blue Moon Big Band & Friends: A Swingin' Christmas Celebration" concert to a packed house at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, PA. Finally, the year wrapped up with a monster New Year's Eve celebration at the newly remodeled Spanish Ballroom in Glen Echo, MD, where the band played to nearly 700 Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, and Swing enthusiasts.

And, last but certainly not least, the band welcomed its newest member of the family at 9:18 PM on New Year's Eve, as Emma Ann Leonard, daughter of bandleader Rob Leonard and vocalist Teresa Leonard, entered the world. Weighing in at 7 pounds and 15 ounces and measuring 20 and a quarter inches in length, she came in singing!

In 2003, the band adopted "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" as its closer, and for the first time named an "official" opener - "Deed I Do." Both songs featured vocalist Teresa Leonard.

1998 2004-Present (for 2004-Present only)

A quick overview of our history from 2004 to today includes:

The reality of why our band's history is recorded in individual years from 1998 through 2003 and then suddenly becomes nothing more than a summarized overview from 2004 to the present is simple - as bandleader, chief marketing officer, gig finder, and accountant, Rob Leonard found his time suddenly focused on one very important thing since December 31, 2003… his daughter, Emma!

That said, documentation of each milestone and historical entry in the band's journal found itself overshadowed by the joy of fatherhood. And so, below is a bulleted summary of the history of Blue Moon Big Band from 2004 to the present:

CD sales soar for the December 2003 release of "Baby, it's Cold Outside."
After a two year stint with the band, bassist Roland Dorsey leaves the group to pursue his growing photography business.
Kevin Shaner, who had been subbing in Dorsey's place periodically since the spring of 2004, joins the band as a full-time member.
Craig Fager, who had served as the band's lead trombonist since its inception in 1998, makes his last performance as a full-time member in September.
Bernie Robier, who had subbed on bass trombone with the band from 2004 through 2005, joins the group as a full-time member as its second (tenor) trombonist in the fall of 2006, as Todd Clontz moves from second trombone to the lead chair.
After playing with the group since 2004, trumpeter Mark Kelly moves to New Orleans to hit the jazz scene (he will return in 2007 to occasionally sit in with the band again).
Trumpet player Leroy Bamberger joins the band.
After 4 and a half years with the band, featured trumpet soloist Josh Hillard moves back to his hometown of Altoona, PA, thus leaving the band.
Trumpet player Alex Drouin joins the band.
Lead tenor saxophonist Steve Szyjka leaves the band to pursue his college education.
Andrew Mitroff, who joined the band as lead alto saxophonist shortly after its start-up in 1998, hangs up his horn "permanently" (he says) to focus on his life as a family man.
Alto saxophonist Eric Wetzel, who subbed with the band in 2005, joins the group full time - initially as lead tenor and then eventually moving over to lead alto.
Joe Sullivan joins the band as a full-time member on lead tenor with the move of Eric Wetzel to alto.
Mike Hirsh, who has been singing sporadically with the band since appearing with the band on its 2001 release of "Nice Work if You Can Get It" becomes an "official" permanent member of the group and records two of the 15 cuts on the band's fifth CD, "The Polar Bear's Pajamas."
Following the completion of recording the band's fifth CD, trumpeter Dave Russell leaves the band due to other work and family obligations.
With a new, Grammy award winning engineer and producer (Luke Rohwer of Acacia Recording in Mt. Airy, MD), Blue Moon Big Band releases its fifth CD in 9 years, "The Polar Bear's Pajamas," which receives countrywide acclaim from radio stations and listeners.
Original band members Rob Leonard (bandleader), Teresa Leonard (vocalist), Scott Stansfield (trumpet), Chris Poole (tenor and baritone saxophones), Todd Clontz (trombone), and John Pritchett (alto saxophone) celebrate 10 years with Blue Moon Big Band.
In April, the band answers a casting call posting for the filming of a new motion picture starring Renee Zellweger and Kevin Bacon, entitled My One and Only. The movie, being filmed in Baltimore and other cities, and scheduled for release in 2009, was to start filming in June 2008. In late May, bandleader Rob Leonard receives a call from the casting director's office informing him that the band has been selected for the film. Due to filming guidelines (no females on the bandstand in the 1950s, and so forth), the movie version of the band was trimmed to 12 members, which was fronted by Kevin Bacon as the bandleader. The band's filming sessions were held in late June and early July.
In July, trumpet player Leroy Bamberger leaves the band and is replaced by Jeremy Meeks. Mark Kelly rejoins the band full-time.
In July, the band records its 6th CD, "Blue Moon Big Band Caught in the Act: 10th Anniversary Celebration Live at Naylor Wine Cellars". That same month, as a "sign of the times," the band's recordings from its first 5 albums as well as the solo CD from vocalist Teresa Leonard, are made available online for single MP3 purchases on iTunes, AmazonMP3, Napster, and Rhapsody.
In August, the band’s featured vocalist, Teresa Leonard, records the single, “Ordinary Miracle,” which is added to “Caught in the Act” as a bonus studio track.
The band gets a bit of a scare in late April when featured vocalist Teresa Leonard contracts laryngitis, which eventually becomes a throat infection that keeps her off the bandstand for nearly four months. Slow recovery began in August, but even by September 20 when the band performed at the annual Maryland Wine Festival, Teresa's voice was not 100%.
In June, Blue Moon Big Band makes its first of two annual appearances at Naylor Wine Cellars in Stewartstown, PA, marking the eighth consecutive year of performances at the winery. In August, the band's engagement at Naylor was its 16th during that span.
In July, as a sign of the times, the band joins the social networking website Facebook and creates the Blue Moon Big Band group. By August, membership tops the 100 plateau.
Also in August, the band makes its debut performance at Nissley Vineyards in Bainbridge, PA, with more than 1,500 in attendance.
Dave Witherspoon, pianist with Blue Moon Big Band from 1999 through 2001, passes away on August 8 due to heart complications. Dave was 66 years old.
On August 21, the feature film My One and Only starring Kevin Bacon and Renee Zellweger, and introducing members of Blue Moon Big Band to the big screen, premiers in New York and Los Angeles. And so, the group was officially "one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon!"
In September, Blue Moon Big Band and its Latin-infused quartet, Blue Caliente, return to the Maryland Wine Festival.
The band wraps up its 11th year with an exhilarating New Year's Eve performance in snowy (and icy) Maryland!
In May, the band makes its debut appearance at the Rolling Rock Club, an exclusive private country club located in Ligonier, PA (about 50 miles outside of Pittsburgh).
By mid-year, Blue Moon Big Band group membership tops 300 on Facebook.
Blue Moon makes its second consecutive summer appearance at Nissley Vineyards in Bainbridge, PA, and plays its 17th and 18th shows (2 per year for 9 straight seasons) at Naylor Wine Cellars in Stewartstown, PA.
In September, Blue Caliente and Blue Moon Big Band once again perform at the Maryland Wine Festival.
In March, trumpet soloist Mark Kelly leaves the band for a cruise ship gig!
In May, pianist Eric Byrd adds to his already busy schedule when he accepts a music leadership position at a church. In addition to teaching at two schools and running his own trio, the added commitment compels him to leave Blue Moon. The band is fortunate to welcome the incredibly talented Jan Abbott as his replacement.
Later that month, Blue Moon Big Band teams up again with partner group Big Band Caliente for a "Hot and Cool" big band concert at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster, MD. This event also marks the final performance for long time Blue Moon trombonist Todd Clontz who leaves the band due to the demands of family commitments. He had been with the group since 1998.
In June, audience favorite Katie Lowdowski decides to leave the band shortly after earning her pharmacy degree. The demands of a new job and plans to start a family drive her decision. Her final performance comes at the Spanish Ballroom in Glen Echo, MD on June 4. The band welcomes Dan Wallace as her replacement later in the month.
Also in June, the band welcomes new Jorge Ayala (trumpet), who has been sitting in with the band on occasion throughout the past year, as a full-time member.
On June 18, Blue Moon Big Band performs at Naylor Wine Cellars in Stewartstown, PA. It is the band's 19th engagement at the venue over a period of 10 consecutive years.
In August, the band welcomes Charlie Doherty to the group as its new lead trombonist. 
In October, the band officially welcomes Mark Alves (who has been sitting in with the band since early in the year to the trombone section. 
More to come... stay tuned!

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