Mas appeal: Big band blows into Gerritsen Beach club

Mas appeal: Big band blows into Gerritsen Beach club
Marie-Annette Stack

This party is right in the swing of things!

A 15-piece band will bring swinging hits from another era to a Gerritsen Beach club later this month. M.A.S. Swing — named for the initials of bandleader Marie-Annette Stack — will play 1940s tunes from the Great American Songbook at its April 28 gig at the Tamaqua Club. Seniors in the audience always light up and tap their toes when the band launches into Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” or Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” — a favorite sight, according to the band’s leading lady.

“At one of our shows, you can actually see people who are 70 and 80 years old transform into their 20s again,” Stack said. “You can see it on their faces as they listen to the music — it’s like some of them are teenagers again.”

These classic tunes have a powerful emotional effect, said the Gerritsen Beach resident. In fact, she fell in love with her now-husband, Dick Bennett, while they were both playing in the Bay Ridge swing band the Townsmen, she said. Stack already played four instruments, but her husband taught her how to play the drums, and for the last 13 years they have taken turns leading the beat for M.A.S. Swing.

In addition to the rotating drummer, the big band includes five saxophone players, three trombonists, three trumpeters, a bass player, a pianist, and a singer to belt out Sinatra songs and other hits from that era.

Swing music is not the band’s only genre — Stack said the band can also get the crowd dancing with Latin, cha-cha, merengue, and rumba sets — but they tend to stick with tunes the audience remembers from their youth. Because the band’s following tends to range in age from 60 to 90, she makes sure to make the gigs friendly to seniors, with handicap accessible venues and Sunday afternoon gigs.

At the April 28 show, audience members can also indulge in a hot buffet that includes pasta, hot turkey, salad, and a cash bar, while they listen to three sets from the band.

Stack said that the live shows can make the audience feel like they are hearing classic tunes for the first time.

“Nowadays we don’t really hear live music, everything is electronic,” Stack said. “I want people to come and see our show even if they’re not dancing, come just to experience this live music that is a part of our history.”

M.A.S. Swing at the Tamaqua Club [84 Ebony Ct. between Channel and Bijou avenues in Gerritsen Beach, (917) 841–1617, www.mariestack.com]. April 28 at 2 p.m. $30.