About Joe Clarke
Joe Clarke has had a lifelong love affair with big band music. As a child, he would spend hours listening to Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, just to name a few. As a youngster, Joe studied percussion and then the trumpet and piano while in high school and college.
While obtaining a degree in psychology at the Citadel, Joe pursued his own musical interests and dreams of leading his own big band. He was musical director for all the yearly talent shows while at the Citadel, and while serving as the band director for the College of Charleston, he began writing his own three- and four-horn arrangements. While working at the college, he began gathering musicians and finally organized his own big band.
Being a child of the 70s and 80s and its music, Joe brings a new twist to the fine art of singing the big band and jazz standards. He often says, "I like a little rock & roll in my jazz and a little jazz in my rock & roll." In past years, Joe Clarke has served as musical director for several shows - Swingtime Canteen, Behind the Rainbow: The Harold Arlen Story (he played Harold Arlen in this production), Stardust Man: The Hoagy Carmichael Story, and The Wild One: the Life and Times of Louis Prima. Keely Enright, producer and director of these shows, gave Joe his first taste of the stage. In 2009 Joe played in Splish, Splash, another production at The Village Playhouse. This was a review of the the music and life of Bobby Darin. Joe sang all the greatest hits that Bobby Darin made famous: Splish Splash, More, Mack the Knife, Beyond the Sea, etc.
The Joe Clarke Big Band has it all. The big sound of a thirteen-horn section (four trumpets, four trombones, and five saxes) is the traditional instrumentation used since the big band era of the 30s and 40s. The rhythm section consists of an upright bass, drums, piano and guitar. For this very special group, Joe steps from behind the piano and joins Jenna Bohannon front and center to croon out the tunes that made famous the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis, Jr. Jenna Bohannon has proved to be an integral part of the band’s image of sophistication and class. Jenna really knows how to light up the stage with her singing ability and poise. Many years in musical productions has prepared her very well for the task of entertaining. This band alternates swing, Latin, waltzes, ballads… in other words, there's never a dull moment with this band on stage.