Last dance Tuesday with Cat’s Meow Swingtet

PORT ANGELES — The Cat’s Meow Swingtet, a band that has performed under various names since at least 1970, will have its last dance on Tuesday, a Christmas dance.

The dance will be at the Port Angeles Senior Center at 328 E. Seventh St., from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $6 for singles and $10 for couples.

“We’ve had some dancers who have been with us since the beginning and they are in their 90s,” said band leader Joey Lazzaro, who has played the trumpet in the band for some 15 years.

It has been a lot of fun, he said.

“It was fantastic to see the smiling faces and tapping toes,” Lazzaro said. “It was very gratifying for musicians to see that.”

The band’s trademark is its variety of styles: Big Band, Dixieland, polka, rock n’ roll, waltz, ballads, Latin music and swing.

“People like the variety,” Lazzaro said. “The variety brought in the dance instructors.”

Others in the band, known informally as The Five Js, are Jim Rosand on piano, John Zuerner on saxaphone, Jack Smith on the drums and Jase Brown on guitar.

Brown replaced Trevor Hanson, who performed the guitar for many years.

Joe Japani was on the accordion with the band for a short amount of time.

Beginning as Ken Rudolph and His Volunteers, the band performed for the Senior Swingers Dance Club at the Drop In Center at Second and Lincoln streets since at least 1970, when it was documented in a newspaper story, Lazzaro said.

“It could have been playing longer,” he said.

Band members later changed their name to Wally and the Boys and moved to the senior center. The band then was named Wally’s Boys for a while before finally becoming the Cat’s Meow Swingtet, Lazzaro said.

The band always played each Tuesday at the senior center until COVID-19 hit and it had to take a break. The musicians started up again in March 2022, but it just wasn’t the same.

“The crowds thinned since COVID and we just haven’t recovered the audience,” Lazzaro said. “The crowds are getting smaller.

“The thrill of it was when we had a lot of crowds,” he said. “We did it out of love of the music rather than any income we received.

“The music is built for dancers.”

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