Car-dancing, puppies and Billy Schmidt

On Saturday I was sitting on my balcony when I heard the sweet sound of jazz fill the air. Yay – music in the park!

I went inside, grabbed my purse and headed one block north to Tomkins Park.

That's Amore - The Swing Connection

That’s Amore – The Swing Connection

Sinatra’s spirit emanated from the singer, whom I guessed to be in his 70’s, as he sang classics like That’s Amore, Fly me to the Moon, Chicago and New York, New York.

I pulled a chair into the sunlight to listen. I closed my eyes and I could swear it was Old Blue Eyes himself up there in the gazebo belting out the tunes.

When the band took a break I moved to a sunny bench and pulled out my notebook to scribble down blog ideas and add items to my to-do list.

Band members were talking to a woman, who was doing embroidery, and her daughter.  Friends of the band, I wondered?

A homeless First Nations man I often see, walked over and compared his arm to my tanned leg saying, “Almost.”

“Yes,” I laughed, “Two more minutes in the sun ought to do it!’

Still laughing as he walked away, I wrote down our conversation in my notebook.

There were so many people in the park with dogs. Normally I’m not a fan of dogs being dragged to the city to suffer the heat of the hot pavement. But on this day I noticed how they seemed to connect people to each other.

A man and woman let their dogs play together. Another man, in spite of his dog’s desire to join the fun,  just dragged his dog by.

A woman with the cutest puppy ever in her arm walked over and the three dog owners were happily chatting.

I guess if dogs can get people talking to each other, I may have to rethink my whole stance on dogs in the city!

Tucking my notebook into my purse, I walked over to talk to the lady with the puppy.

8-week old Skittles smiles for the camera

8-week-old Skittles smiles for the camera

Her name is Arlene and she introduced me to Skittles, her foster pup from the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.

“You really should go to the website and check it out – they have kittens too,” she says as she hands me a card. “All the puppies have candy names right now.”

“No doubt,” I replied, “cause they’re so sweet!”

I thanked Arlene and said goodbye just as the band started their next set with Chicago.

I walked over to the woman doing embroidery and sitting with her daughter close to the Gazebo.

I explained about being a blogger and that I wanted to write about Music in the Park, an event that is put on every summer by 17 Ave. Retail and Entertainment District.

“Are you friends with the band?”

She says yes and tells me the story of how her husband, who also plays in several bands, introduced her to the music of the singer. She points to the young woman playing saxophone and says, “That’s my oldest daughter.”

Billy Schmidt - How cool is this guy with his hat, big ring and sunglasses?

Billy Schmidt – How cool is this guy with his hat, big ring and sunglasses?

I asked her the name of the singer and band and she told me his name is Billy Schmidt and the band is called Swing Connection. The band has been together for 4-5 years, but Billy has been doing this for a long time.

Her youngest daughter is taking Swing dancing lessons. We talked about how much fun it is to watch and how Swing dancing works for a number of music genres.

“We like to do really weird dance moves,” said the younger daughter about her entire family. She has the most incredible huge smile pasted on her face.

The family also does a lot of what they call car-dancing.

They told me a story about how once the oldest daughter was dancing in the car and her mother turned to look at her. She could see past her daughter into another car of guys who were getting a real kick out of it. When her daughter caught on that she was being watched, she was mortified.

“The guys in the other car mimicked her movements and gave her the thumbs up,” she recounted chuckling.

“Mom,” says the youngest daughter; handing her mom the cell phone.

“Oh, I have to top up the parking meter,” says the mom, excusing herself.

I thank them for their time and we part ways.

Much gratitude and appreciation to the 17th Ave Retail and Entertainment District for making summer even more fun in my neighbourhood!

Below, a video of Billy Schmidt I found online. Incidentally, that’s the eldest daughter of the woman I spoke with playing the saxophone. 



Do you have a rescue animal, or would you consider one if you decided to get a pet?

What’s your favourite music genre?

43 thoughts on “Car-dancing, puppies and Billy Schmidt

  1. Just last night, my wife and I watched a documentary on the design of big cities. Creating spaces that allow people to gather away from cars and traffic was a common element. It sounds as though Calgary has figured that out.


  2. Cute puppy. Unfortunately, we can’t have any animals because of my hubby’s allergy. I’ve also noticed that dogs help people to talk…..also babies…..I’ve never spoken to so many strangers as when my kids were babies.


  3. Love the outdoor summer music and how you made the most of connecting with people! Some of the best conversations I’ve had have come from being open to those moments. And, the only animals I’ve had (and will ever have) are rescues. :) enjoy the rest of summer!!


  4. Diana – absolute. Wonderful. What ever it was that moved you outside took you in. Frank, Mel and Tony would mightily approve. Enjoyed thr rolling style that brought me along. Good stuff. Dan


  5. I grew up with Jazz as my Dad was a drummer in a Jazz band part-time and an accountant by day! Looks like a great time to just enjoy summer.



  6. What a day, Diana! I love the way you expanded your circle to include more and more people. Your discoveries about puppies and the musicians made the day ever brighter, for me, too. Thank you.


  7. Diana, it sounds like, and dare I say, looks like one of those peaceful and communal scenes Manet would paint. Good to know you carry a notebook around. People often think I’m a little crazy when I whip out mine. Don’t feel so alone now. :)


  8. I love that song, Diana; he’s really good, and so is the sax. There’s something about swing jazz that puts me in a great mood. I don’t have a fave music genre because I’m eclectic that way. ;)

    We rescued our kitties from the SPCA. It’s the way to go, in my opinion.

    Jennifer xo


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