By Jim Hagerty
Beloit, Wis., composer Bruce Warden has landed a song on the holiday music circuit. Warden’s “Mister Groovy Groundhog” is the title track on the recent Jack Farina Big Band CD. It also has a storied journey.
Warden wrote the tune in 1985. In 1992, when Warden heard the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, was being filmed in Woodstock, Ill., he polished the lyrics and pitched them to Columbia Pictures, but was told a score had already been arranged. He then began promoting the song to the people in Punxsutawney, Pa., to be performed at its annual Groundhog Day Celebration, which was chronicled in the movie.
Warden flew to the Pennsylvania town in 1999 and persuaded the mayor and community leaders to formally enlist the Punxsutawney Area High School Marching Band to perform the song as Phil, the groundhog, emerged from his hole. Upon arriving at the festival in February, Warden learned the band lost its director and that the plan had been scrapped.
When Warden met Jack Farina, the two decided to give Farina’s 16-piece band a shot at performing “Mister Groovy Groundhog” as part of a big band/swing CD.
Since its 2009 release, the CD has been adopted by the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce as the international song for the Feb. 2 Groundhog Day Celebration. Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) also approved.
“I thank you for the gift (CD),” Rendell stated, “and want you to know that it has been accepted for its proper use or other disposition.Your generosity is greatly appreciated.”
Mister Groovy Groundhog includes contributions from several area artists including Jodi Beach, Mike Williamson, Ron Grimes and Beloit Memorial High School student, saxophonist Jessica Gile. The project was recorded and engineered at Studio B and Barker Recording Studios in Rockford.
The CD is available at Voigt’s Music in Beloit and Janesville, Wis., and locally at Randee’s Music, Guzzardo Performance Music and Stockholm Inn for $15. Copies can also be purchased at www.wgeproductions.com.
From the Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2010 issue