Goodbye and Thank You!!

The following may be referred to as the Moonlight Jazz Swan song−Or is it Swing song? . . .

Either way, it is with heavy hearts and much contemplation that we announce the official retirement of Rockford’s very own big band; the original, often imitated but never duplicated, Moonlight Jazz Orchestra. After 42 years and thousands of performances in the Stateline area, we've decided to end this wild ride on a high note.

We can’t begin to tell you how difficult this decision was to make. But, with changes in the live music market and realities affecting the band as a large, unique entity of working men and women “moonlighting” as professional (and unbelievably talented) musicians, we've sadly realized some serious obstacles to moving forward as a performing group.

First and foremost, we want to THANK our many loyal FANS – we’ll call you “moonlighters” – for your love, support and appreciation of MJO over these many years. Our hometown of Rockford, Illinois, was the band's birthplace (Jefferson High) and has been the center of our existence; we love the City and its people who have continued to listen, dance, and swing along with us, at hundreds of venues. From On the Waterfront, to the country club parties, to receptions at the hotel banquet rooms, to the Sinnissippi Band Shell, to Stroll on State... the list of shows is too long to name, but each a treasured memory that will last forever.

As we step aside and look to the awesome young musicians performing in our community, we encourage you Moonlighters to continue your support of LIVE MUSIC! That truly was our passion . . . the experience ….the thrill… of a live performance. And the DANCERS – maybe the best part of being in an 18-piece big band is getting to watch couples out on the dance floor, holding their partner tight to a beautiful ballad, shakin’ their hips to the Twist, doing a backbend under the conga stick, or dancing a lively polka. MJO has always been a Dance Band, first and foremost, and we thank everyone who got out on that dance floor with us.

Since our humble beginning in 1974, many musicians have been a part of MJO. We’ve lost some of them, and others have left for various reasons, but one thing has always stayed true− once a member, always a member – Moonlight was a band like no other, and every member was considered family. Though professionalism was always top of our list for any performance, we always made sure everyone… guests and band…. had FUN!

We're grateful to have been a part of Rockford's ongoing musical legacy. Several of the area's top musicians got their start with MJO as a stepping stone toward greater success. Our region is rich with talented artists of all kinds, and we know our arts-loving community will continue to thrive and grow with new and upcoming musicians and bands alike.

Special thanks to Wayne, Bob, Jeff, Curt and Kent who were our fearless leaders through the band’s history. A sincere thank you also to the band widows (and widowers), the families, the teachers, the bartenders, the bus drivers, and the instrument and equipment repair techs who made it all possible.

We’re proud of all that MJO accomplished over the years, but especially proud of simply staying together as a band and acting as a democratically-run corporation where every member was heard, every performance important, and every audience a gift.

Though our “official” farewell comes at the end of the 2016, we make this announcement now with hopes you’ll come celebrate the MJO legacy with us at one or more of our final public performances:

  • Kiwanis Brat Days - July 15th @ Edgebrook
  • Monroe Summer Concert Series - July 28th @ Main Street 
  • Music in the Park - August 11th @ Sinnissippi Bandshell
  • World War II Days USO Dance - Sept. 24th @ Indoor Sports Center.

So, the next time you hear In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, Mack the Knife, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, or one of the many other classic tunes MJO was known for, we hope you’ll think of us and smile…maybe even dance a little.

But for now, we’re gonna swing one and get outta here. THANK YOU for over 42 years of rockin’ and rollin’, swingin’ and jivin’, lovin’ and livin’ with the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra!

There’s room for one more couple on the dance floor . . . Let's do it one more time!