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Joyce Endee

Marv Haber and the Swingtones hit high notes in Jackson

Marv Haber, wearing his signature cowboy hat playing the trumpet at the Wildcat Tavern's Hoot Night this March. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
March 31, 2011
Haber and his wife Michelle vacationed in the Valley during the early 1990s. In 2006 they began building their home in Glen. The house is built for music with two music rooms, a studio in the basement and 44 file drawers filled, says Haber. You see Michelle, Haber says, is an accomplished organist, voice teacher, Holocaust expert and pastor, too. "I have talked music privately, throughout my life," he adds.

His music career began at thirteen in Bronx, New York when he learned to play the trumpet. At age 17, his mother signed a contract with Skitch Henderson, the pianist, composer and conductor from the Big Band era and NBC. Big Band was popular during the Swing Era from the 1930s to 1950s. Haber says over the years he has worked over 11,000 jobs from the Catskills Mountains to Manhattan. "I have played every style music imaginable in New York City."

It didn't take Haber long to get into the swing of things in the Valley and beyond. He has performed at The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch, The Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield, locally at the Red Parka Steakhouse and Pub, Eagle Mountain House, Christmas Farm Inn and Spa, Wildcat and Black Mountain ski areas. Many venues include fund-raisers for Kennett High School, towns of Bartlett and Jackson Recreation and the United Way.

"This is the most peaceful place on earth," says Haber of the Mount Washington Valley. Quite different from New York City: for sure.

He took his trumpet and tried his hand at Hoot Night here at the Wildcat Tavern some four years ago, playing the music of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Harry James, to name a few.

It was then that Stu Dunlop, owner of the Wildcat Tavern, approached Haber to see if he would be interested in performing regularly. "I give a big credit to Stu, it was his idea," says Haber. Since this past November, Haber and the Swingtones have been playing every Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. to a sell out crowd.

"About one hundred to one hundred eighty people show up, you should have a reservation, it is so busy," he says. The tavern also offers a two for one special for $23.50 each person.

It is the old music that attracts younger people. "This music is attracting the twenty to thirty-year-olds who are becoming interested," he says. Swing dance clubs are big and the resurgence began about eight to ten years ago, he adds. The music speaks to young and old, it tells a story.

Take Glenn Miller's song: A String of Pearls.

"Wait 'til the stars peek - a - boo, I've got something just for you. It's a string of pearls a - la Wool - worth.

I found a love so sub lime, right in that old five and dime. With a string of pearls a - la Wool - worth.

Miller really did buy his wife a string of pearls, explains Haber. "If you can hum the song, sing the song, tap the song, it is music. That's what I like," says Haber.

Haber shares his enthusiasm and encouragement with others. His band varies in size anywhere form six to 16 players. Most are local talent. "Working with music up here is not like New York City," he says. Haber says when he started at NBC, he worked with some of the finest musicians and he didn't know who they were. "They were encouragers," he says. "I try to do the same thing. Cheer people on when they don't play well. If someone is afraid, I encourage them to go on," he adds.

Haber says he has collected many instruments over the years and donates them to Kennett High School for students who may not have access.

The entertainer, whose trademark apparel is his cowboy hat, has anything but a cavalier attitude towards his work. He has a true love affair. "I love doing what I do. I love doing this, it is my first love and will do it until I am one hundred and two," he proclaims.

For more information visit Marvin Haber on Facebook or look for him at the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson on Wednesday evenings.

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