By Brett Turner
SPRINGFIELD — With Grammy Awards and a place on one of the greatest shows in television history in his past, you’d think legendary trumpet player and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” big band leader Doc Severinsen would slow down in his golden years.
Not when he can still play music “Once More With Feeling,” his show based on his bestselling recording.
Severinsen and his 17-piece band will open the Springfield Arts Council’s Broadway and Beyond season at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
The show is presented by the Springfield Arts Council.
A frequent performer in Springfield over the years, Severinsen, age 89, is excited to be stopping here once again.
“These are the kind of people who like my music and that makes me want to come back and perform,” he said.
He has an association here beyond music. A quarter horse enthusiast, Severinsen often came here to visit the late Blair Folck, who raised horses, and often enjoyed a meal with the family.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the family at the show,” said Severinsen.
Since “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” left the air 24 years ago, Severinsen and his band have toured all over, mixing a variety of standards including “In a Sentimental Mood,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “12 O’Clock Jump.”
Vocalist Vanessa Thomas adds a new dimension on songs such as “When You’re Smiling” and “Singing in the Rain.”
“She’s really a fabulous singer. She comes out on stage and just takes over,” he said.
Expect his usual colorful and offbeat wardrobe, which Severinsen said has become as big a part of his identity as his trumpet.
He’ll begin the concert with one of the most familiar theme songs in television history, “Johnny’s Theme,” which opened “The Tonight Show” for years.
Severinsen said the show was so special, because Carson had the brightest mind of anybody he knew and the band had to be paying attention.
“We went to work every day with no idea what could happen,” he said, laughing.
Living an active life keeps Severinsen going. He still rides horses, works out, watches what he eats, surrounds himself with friends and thinks positive thoughts.
He’s even planning how his 100th birthday in 2027 will go — with friends on an all-day trail ride.
Then Severinsen will likely pick up his trumpet and play.
“My wife asked me about retiring, and I said ‘why,’ because it tells me who I am. My music is my way of life.
“If I’m not playing, I get no fun out of that. Playing and a good cigar is what will get you through the day.”
Legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen to open Broadway and Beyond season
By Brett Turner