BY LAURIE MIHOLER-ZACHRITZ Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Don Havenstein just likes to play music that makes people dance.
The 87-year-old sax player from Bellaire is one of a trio of senior musicians who play in “The Reflections," a dance band which performs regular gigs at the Traverse City Senior Center on the fourth Saturday of every month.
He loves the work so much that he returned to play just two days after his birthday in August. It's all about getting people dancing, he said.
Halvenstein is joined once a month at the center by Dee Boik, a keyboardist from Houghton Lake and Matt Lucas, a double bass player from Farwell to provide a live soundtrack while seniors hit the dance floor.
The band takes on a fourth member occasionally when Ken Perry, a guitarist for another band joins in, as he did at the group's August performance.
Havenstein and Boik have a long history, much longer than the four-year history of the band. They began playing together in the Detroit area in the 1970’s. Lucas is the youngest of the group at 73. All are lifelong musicians, but without Havenstein’s wife Ann, who manages the trio, they might not still be performing at this stage of their lives.
Don and Ann Halverstein, both widowed, married 12 years ago. Don said he was content and busy with his own business as a handyman when Ann presented him with an opportunity to perform again.
“I pushed him into it,” she said. “Don’s daughter got an engagement and we had to get some musicians together. We knew a lot of people, so I called and emailed and pushed. You find a lot of people when you look."
Ann admits she’s pretty persuasive, “I talked to a drummer and he said, 'I can’t do that,' I said, 'Sure you can.' So he went out and bought a new set of drums.”
Most of that original band was in Bellaire area, she said.
Now that the group has settled into a trio, the focus is on playing danceable songs. It plays everything from the 1920s to the 1960s with a focus on big band, Latin, polkas, square dance, swing and dance band music.
Their focus isn't on the type of music, it's more on getting people dancing.
“If they want polka, we play polka. If they want waltzes, we play waltzes,” Lucas said, adding that for him, playing with the others is the benefit. “I really enjoy playing with Dee and Don. Their backgrounds are tuned in to the kind of music I like. It’s a joy for me to play. I’d play even if there was nobody here.”
Havenstein said the band doesn't plan sets ahead of time. “What we play depends on the crowd,” he said. “We can almost tell by the second or third song what they’re going to like.”
While their crowds may be small, their fans are passionate about dancing and the Reflection’s music.
“I come to dance,” said Leda King of Traverse City. “And they are good.”
Helen and Don Pratt of Traverse City have been married for 67 years and have danced for all of them they said, starting in 1943 at Traverse City High School. They attend every Saturday that the Reflections play. “This is the only place to ballroom dance,” Helen said, “There’s a lot of swing and that’s fine for people who can dance all night, there’s a lot of polka, that’s more physical. We dance the swing dances and the ballroom numbers, and sit out the polkas.” Don says that dancing keeps the couple together, literally. “Dancing is a partnership,” He said, “You learn to move together. In order for one to look good, both have to cooperate.”
Ann said the band plays mostly for senior crowds, even though they have a repertoire of hundreds of songs in every genre. In addition to their regular monthly performances at the TC Senior Center, and the Council on Aging center on the second Friday every month in Kalkaska, the band plays occasionally at other senior centers and nursing homes, as well as at weddings and parties.
When Russ and Joyce McGregor of Traverse City celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in May, they hired The Reflections to play at their party at the TCSC.
“We’ve been coming here for several years,” Russ said. “We come every Saturday night that they play and they are one of the best bands around.”
For the foreseeable future, the band plans to keep together and keep on playing. “I’m good for another 30 years,” Lucas joked.
For more information on The Reflections, or to schedule an engagement contact Ann Havenstein @ 231-533-8530.