Wed07302014

Community

Ye Olde Towne Band keeps up its 'chops'


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Ye Olde Towne Band conductor John DeLoach, above left, leads the band through several numbers during the recent “Glorious Fourth” event at Shoup Park.

Like fireworks, watermelon and iced tea, no summer would be complete without musical entertainment from Ye Olde Towne Band.

Since the band’s start in Los Altos in 1972, members have dedicated themselves to performing in Shoup Park every summer – and this summer is no exception. The group’s free concerts are scheduled 1:30-3:30 p.m. the final Sunday of each month through September.

Former circus trumpeter Joe Stefen founded Ye Olde Towne Band in the 1960s in Redwood City. In 1972, the band received a grant from the Chamber of Commerce and relocated to Los Altos, under the direction of Eldon Wiegman.

Sponsored by the city of Los Altos, the Los Altos Community Foundation, the Bridgeport Residents Association, Jerome and Sylvia Drexler, and the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Los Altos, the 63-member nonprofit group profits from the musicians’ love of music. The band is a Los Altos mainstay, performing on its gazebo-shaped float at annual events like the Kiwanis Pet Parade and the Festival of Lights Parade.

John DeLoach, the band’s conductor since 2004, leads the group, whose membership is open to musicians of all skill levels who play wind or percussion instruments – no auditions required.

To accommodate members’ musical tastes and schedules – not to mention audience demographics – the band practices three Thursdays each month to perfect a range of songs and genres, from show tunes to patriotic marches.

Coincidentally, DeLoach said all of Ye Olde Towne Band’s conductors have been trumpeters, himself included. He assisted the trumpet section of the band for the first portion of his 25 years with the group before taking the conductor’s baton.

“I began taking up trumpet again after a 25-year break and needed a band to play in, so I joined in 1989,” he said.

In addition to Ye Olde Towne Band’s 18 practices over the summer, DeLoach said members spend time at home “keeping up the ‘chops’ to maintain their musical proficiency.”

With members’ ages ranging from 16 to 80, the band features many levels of experience and offers a variety of advantages – particularly for older adults.

“It is especially beneficial to seniors and retirees to stay musically alert and active in the community,” said the conductor, a two-time retiree who served in the U.S. Navy and as an aviation industry radio systems engineer.

With more than a quarter-century with Ye Olde Towne Band under his belt, DeLoach deems participation in the group more than just a musical experience. He said the band promotes a sense of family and camaraderie in addition to lifetime friendships – and loyalty.

“There are still a couple of players that joined in the early ’70s,” DeLoach said.

For more information, visit windband.org/oldtowne.

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