What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's "Big Band Fever," featuring Doc Severinsen
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16
Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
The musicians of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will pick up the pace for their annual "Big Band Fever" concerts this weekend, and who but Doc Severinsen will be swinging with them.
Severinsen, who rose to fame as the bandleader on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson," will bring his witty banter, colorful wardrobe and that famous trumpet for shows Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16, at the Tivoli Theatre. Robert Bernhardt will conduct these Pops concerts.
For the third year, each show also will be a Tweet-up, where Twitter followers can live-tweet about their favorite song, the action on the dance floor or send valentines to a sweetheart. The tweets will be posted on the CSO Twitter page (@ChattSymphony) and in the Tivoli Theatre.
There's no word on what selections will be featured, but how cool would it be to hear the familiar horn flourish that opened the show for 30 years? "Johnny's Theme," as it was known, was an arrangement of a Paul Anka composition called "Toot Sweet."
• Full name: Carl Hilding Severinsen.
• Born: July 7, 1927, in Arlington, Ore., to Minnie Mae and Carl Severinsen.
• How he got his nickname: He was called "Little Doc" after his father, a dentist.
• Musical interests: Originally he wanted to play the trombone, but his dad, a gifted amateur violinist, urged him to study that instrument instead. Eventually, he had to settle for the only horn available in Arlington's small music store, a trumpet.
• Proficiency: A week after acquiring the trumpet, with the help of his father and an instruction manual, the 7-year-old was good enough to be invited to join the high school band. At age 12, he won the Music Educators National Contest. While still in high school, he was hired to go on the road with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.
• Call of duty: His stay with the orchestra was cut short by the draft. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
• Back to music: Following his discharge, Severinsen landed a spot with the Charlie Barnett Band and later toured with the Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman bands in the late 1940s.
• NBC debut: Severinsen arrived in New York City in 1949 to become a staff musician for NBC. After years of playing with the peacock network's studio bands, he was invited to do a gig with The Tonight Show Band. An impressed conductor, Skitch Henderson, asked him to join that band in 1962 as first trumpet. Five years later, Severinsen took over as music director for "The Tonight Show" and stayed with the show until Johnny Carson retired from late-night television in 1992.
• After Carson: Within a week of the final telecast, Doc Severinsen and His Big Band was on the road. He pulled members from the show's best musicians, giving audiences a chance to hear the depth of talent belonging to a band that rarely played a whole tune on the air.
• In the meantime: Severinsen moved to Mexico at the end of 2006 and struck up with a band of musicians there. Their most recent concert tour was in fall 2012.
• Accomplishments and accolades: Severinsen has recorded more than 30 albums, including the critically acclaimed "The Very Best of Doc Severinsen," which reprises 15 of his signature pieces. He was nominated for a Grammy for "Once More With Feeling" and won the trophy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance -- Big Band for "Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band, Volume 1."