Bill Ganz and his Western music band have been a fixture on the Tucson-area music scene for several years. Above, Ganz played a Marana festival show in 2011.


Bill Ganz is heading to Bend, Ore., next week for a performance that could put his namesake Tucson Western band on a national stage.

The Bill Ganz Western Band will share the stage with the Sun River Music Festival Orchestra under the baton of an old friend, Tucson Symphony Orchestra conductor George Hanson. Ganz said he is hoping the performance with the orchestra in the festival's pops concert on Aug. 9 will open the door to performing with other orchestras around the country.

"I think this will legitimize our whole (symphony) show," said Ganz, whose band has performed twice with the TSO to nearly soldout houses. "I'm hoping when we have this under our belts, I can shop this to different states."

Hanson said he invited the longtime Tucson Western band to join him in Bend after seeing the excitement the band brought to his Tucson stage. Hanson is in his second season as music director with the Sun River festival.

"Any time you work with somebody who you discover has both the real goods and can sell tickets, then you keep them in mind and use them again as soon as you can," Hanson said.

In Bend, Ganz and his outfit will perform 10 songs arranged for orchestra by Tucson jazz pianist Rob Boone. Among the works they will perform are the Western standards "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water."

"There are so many symphonic pieces that were written as film scores. A lot of that music is so melodic and so spacious that our music really fits with that," Ganz said. "It's almost like it's an out-of-body experience for us. It's so beautifully scored that we had to work hard."

Hanson said the popularity of the TSO concerts with Ganz took the orchestra's marketing department by surprise.

"No one really knew how big an audience Bill had," he said. "It had been such an uplifting experience to hear these great Western songs sung by a master with a great band backing him up. The entire range of the experience was pretty special."

The Sun River Music Festival kicks off Sunday and continues through Aug. 21. The Bill Ganz Western Band opens the concert series, which focuses on dance music.

Former TSO concertmaster Steven Moeckel will join Hanson for a tango concert Aug. 16 featuring bandoneon player Daniel Binelli. Moeckel will perform Vivaldi's "Spring" from "The Four Seasons."

If you go

The Sun River Music Festival runs Sunday through Aug. 21 in several venues in Bend, Ore. For tickets and more information, go to

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.