1950s dance band hits Kalispell Senior Center

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A new 1950s show band formed by local guitarist Steve Eckels, Zino & the Bel Aires will perform Saturday, March 18 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Kalispell Senior Center.

Eckels is a guitar teacher at Flathead and Glacier high schools, where he also teaches a history of rock and roll class. Eckels formerly led dance bands in New England and his home state of Wisconsin, and he met Matt Avanzino (Zino), a former professional singer, when he was hired to teach at Flathead. The duo later added local attorney Tom Esch to bring the band and its three-part vocal harmony together.

Zino & the Bel Aires has already played events at both Kalispell high schools and Buffalo Hill Golf Course, with upcoming gigs at the Big Mountain Brew Fest, a state Rotary convention, Columbia Falls’ Music in the Park and the Kalispell Center Mall.

The group’s songs come from 1950-63 and represent what the band calls “an All-American contribution to popular music, and reflect an era of optimism and prosperity from the past, and optimism for the future.” Artists covered include Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Franky Avalon, the Platters, the Drifters, Chubby Checker, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Harry Belafonte, the Beach Boys and more.

Performances by Zino & the Bel Aires feature colorful lighting, turquoise and black vintage-style uniforms, coordinated dance moves and other theatrics. Eckels plays a vintage Gretch guitar and the band uses vintage band stands with a picture of a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air on the front.

For more information on the band, find Zino & the Bel Aires on Facebook or call Eckels at 406-257-6878.

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