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August 4, 2009

STEPHANIE SALTER: Support live music, urban renewal and accuracy — for only 10 bucks

TERRE HAUTE — If you are among any of the following categories of people, you owe it to yourself (and several other entities) to spend $10 for a ticket to the Claude Thornhill birthday bash Monday night in Harmony Hall:

• You really like music from the belle époque of American big bands — the 1920s to the mid-1950s.

• You like to dance to that genre of music, or you like to watch others dance to it.

• You believe in live musical performances, and you want to support the live women and men who present these performances.

• You say you’d like to see the 12 Points district revitalized and humming as you remember it from the Good Ol’ Days, but you hardly ever do anything concrete about making that happen.

• You know the only way to foster community in Terre Haute (instead of simply complaining about the lack of it) is to get out of your house and engage in that community.

• You are a history buff who cannot believe that Terre Haute’s own celebrated composer and band leader — Claude Thornhill — doesn’t even have a marker for his grave in Roselawn cemetery. And because of that, a whole lot of the music world is under the mistaken impression that Claude was born here in 1909 instead of 1908.

Until a crackerjack trio of local historians — Dorothy Jerse, Mike McCormick and Judy Calvert — went digging on a hunch, those of us involved in Monday night’s big band bash were among the misinformed. (More on the digging in a minute.) We thought Aug. 10 was Claude’s 100th birthday. We were wrong.

So we’re going to celebrate his 101st birthday with the Fabulous 40s Big Band and vocalist Betsy Baer at Harmony Hall (see information box). And we are going to use the occasion to begin fund raising for a proper monument for the maestro’s grave.

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