Ashland City Band: Rain dance parade & other stories (Part 4)

The couple who moved to Ashland to play in the City Band.
Guanajuato “Rain dance parade!” 

Who told me these stories?

This series of four articles about the Ashland City Band is based primarily on a 2019 interview with three men (Don Bieghler, Ed Wight, and the late Raoul Maddox) who between them have 164 years of experience with the Ashland City Band. 

The couple who moved to Ashland to play in the City Band

Band director Don Bieghler shocked me when he said: “We’ve had people move to Ashland so they could play in the Ashland City Band.” He was talking about Peggie and Herb Greuling. They had been living in Florida, where Herb had just retired from the U.S. Air Force band. 

As Peggie told the story to a Seattle Times reporter, she and her husband wanted to retire in a college town with four seasons, but not too cold. They hoped to find “the kind of place where they have band concerts on Sunday afternoons.” The couple flew to Portland, rented a car there, and drove thousands of miles exploring the West Coast. They were frustrated. Nothing struck them as a new “home.”

When they returned the rental car in Portland, they expressed their frustration to the rental car clerk, who responded: “You should have tried Ashland.” Former band director Maddox remembers receiving a letter from the Greulings, and responding with detailed information about Ashland and our City Band. That sealed the deal, and the couple moved to Ashland.

They lived in Ashland for more than 26 years. Yes, both played in the Ashland City Band, Peggie on saxophone and Herb on bass clarinet. 

Ashland City Band
Peggie Greuling playing saxophone with the Ashland City Band.
(still from the RVTV YouTube video, no date)

Peggie was an especially accomplished musician. In addition to playing in the band, Peggie was a school music teacher for many years. She played 11 instruments in order to be able to work with all the students! Her specialty instruments were saxophone and violin. She even volunteered to teach violin, by the Suzuki method, to Talent Elementary School first graders. And she bought the first violins to get them started.

I was happily surprised to find a YouTube video of the Ashland City Band in the 1990s playing several songs that Peggie Greuling wrote. Leona Mitchell was the vocalist and Peggie played saxophone solos.

Peggie passed away in 2018 at the age of 93, just weeks before the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary. 

City Band uniform colors through the years

Have you ever gone to an Oregon Ducks home football game and checked the team’s uniform color schedule to see what color you should wear to the game?  I learned that the Ashland City Band did something similar many years ago.

Prior to 1977, the band’s uniform colors were black slacks with a white shirt. In Raoul Maddox’s first year as conductor that year, he decided to change the uniforms to brighter colors. According to Maddox, “Every week we would change the color of our shirts, and so would the audience. So if we were wearing red, most of the audience was in red. If we were in yellow, they were in yellow. It got so they kind of liked it.”

The next year, Maddox decided on standard uniform shirts that included a swan, then the symbol of Ashland. 

Ashland City Band, 2008
The Ashland City Band marched in Ashland’s July 4th parade in 2008. They still wear teal color shirts and white pants. (photo by Peter Finkle)

In 2011, when Bieghler was conductor, it was time to buy all new uniform shirts for band members. He couldn’t find the same green color they had been wearing for a number of years. Bieghler agonized about the decision, to the point of having sleepless nights. He finally chose a teal color, and was relieved when band members told him they liked it a lot. They still wear teal color shirts to this day.

I asked for more stories. Bieghler and Maddox came up with two from the band’s trip to our sister city Guanajuato, Mexico.

Thunder in Guanajuato

Guanajuato, Mexico
This is the Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato, where the Ashland City Band played.
(photo provided by Don Bieghler)

One interesting story was on our trip to Guanajuato,” Bieghler said. “We were on stage in the opera house, and we were doing this dramatic-sounding song. There was a period of silence in the song, and all at once there was a tremendous crash of thunder and lightning outside that just filled that gap. It was like an act of God.” 

The “Rain dance parade” in Guanajuato

According to Maddox, the band was drenched as it marched in a parade in Guanajuato. But not just any parade. He laughed as he told me, “It was a parade to bring on the rains to fill the reservoirs. Halfway through the parade it started to rain, and by the time we got through, the rain was bouncing ten inches off the ground! Everybody was just soaked. So we came around this place avoiding all the gargoyles that were spitting water out from the freeways and the buildings, and went into a parking garage. A lot of the other companies that were in the parade [Mexican bands] were already in there when we came in. We were all like drowned rats; we were wet! They greeted us and then pretty soon we were all entertaining each other, and it was just like a wonderful homecoming. There were probably a couple hundred people in the parking garage trying to get out of the rain. It was a lot of fun. And it was a successful parade!” 

Supporting school bands

Band members are proud of their cooperation with Lions Club of Ashland, which sells ice cream at the evening band concerts. 100% of the proceeds from ice cream sales are donated to the Ashland Middle School and High School band programs. According to the Lions Club website, “Over the period of 2008-18 we donated $28,265 in support of the [school] bands.”

Declaration of Independence every 4th of July in Lithia Park

As many long-time Ashlanders know, the Declaration of Independence is recited in full each 4th of July at the Lithia Park bandshell. That tradition seems to go back more than 100 years.

Ashland 4th of July 1916
1916 4th of July Patriotic Program in Lithia Park, from the Ashland Tidings of July 3, 1916. Note the line: “Reading of the Declaration of Independence…Miss Minnie Bernice Jackson.”
Ashland 4th of July
Barry Kraft recited the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July at the Lithia Park bandshell in 2019 — and in many other years. (photo by Peter Finkle)

Gettysburg Address at 4th of July City Band concert

2013 was the 150th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. That year, local actor Bob Jackson Miner spoke the powerful words of the Gettysburg address after the Declaration of Independence was recited. 

Ashland 4th of July
Bob Miner (dressed as President Abe Lincoln) delivers the Gettysburg Address on July 4, 2013. (photo by Peter Finkle)

It was a hit with, so the following year, band conductor Bieghler and Miner came up with an idea to add to the emotion of the Gettysburg address. In 1998, the City Band had played a piece called “American Civil War Fantasy” that has a long drumroll during the piece. They planned the timing of the Gettysburg address during the drumroll with only one rehearsal before the concert.  

After the 2014 concert, one of the band members told Bieghler that “I had tears coming down my eyes” as they played the piece. Community members who heard the speech were so moved that Miner has spoken the Gettysburg address each 4th of July since then. 

Closing Words from Director Don Bieghler 

“One of the things I most appreciate about the band is the wonderful audiences that come to the concerts every week. We have good community support. People come up to me that I see every week, to make a comment or give a compliment. They’re curious about what we do and they appreciate that the city supports the band.”

Ashland City Band, 1920s
Big crowd to watch the Ashland City Band play in Lithia Park in the 1920s. They are playing in the original elevated bandstand. (“This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library.”)
Ashland City Band
100 years later, in 2021, the Ashland City Band played in Lithia Park at the ‘new’ bandshell.
(photo by Peter Finkle)

References:

Anon. Peggie Greuling obituary accessed 11/13/2019

Ashland City Band website, accessed November 2019. 

Ashland City Band video, with Peggie Greuling. YouTube. (Accessed online, March 2020)

Author in-person interview with Raoul Maddox, Don Bieghler and Ed Wight, July 7, 2019. Thanks to Ed Wight and Don Bieghler for proofing the article and adding more of their memories in the process.

Godden, Jean. “How Special People Make a Difference,” The Seattle Times, June 25, 1997. (Accessed online 11/13/2019.)   

Tree of the Year 2020: Ponderosa Pine on Holly Street (short version)

Unusual multi-trunk pine tree on Holly Street.
Chosen as Ashland’s 2020 Tree of the Year.

I have been drawn to this Ponderosa Pine from the first time I saw it. The multi-trunk shape is so unusual.

Tree of the Year 2020
Tree of the Year 2020, Ponderosa Pine at 558 Holly Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2018)

When I spoke with Gary Pool, who used to live on Holly Street, he pointed out this dramatic Ponderosa pine on Holly Street as a possible Native American trail marker tree.  I had never heard of the term “trail marker tree” and I did some research.  I found this interesting insight and explanation online.

“Trees have been used as signs for centuries. Between 2002 and 2005 I had the privilege of being involved with the Smithsonian  Museum of the American Indian.  During that time period, I worked with several native Americans, including a Native American ethnobotanist who taught me many interesting things about Native American Culture including the practice of using Marker Trees to show the way.  Native Americans used to use trees to tell in which direction they should travel. These were called Marker Trees.

“Favorite tree selection for these trees were oaks, maples and elms. These species were selected for their flexibility in youth, but hardwood in maturity. Marker trees were bent in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing.” (Ronda Roemmelt 2015)

The photo below shows a tree identified by experts as a Native American trail marker tree.

Trail marker tree
Trail Marker Tree in North Central Illinois, with Dennis Downes, researcher. (Photo on Great Lakes Trail Tree Society website)

After my research, I have concluded that the Ponderosa Pine on Holly Street is not a trail marker tree, though it would be romantic to call it one.  Here is my reasoning.  Nearly every trail marker tree photo I saw online shows the bent branch that “points the way” only 3′ to 6′ above the ground (like the photo above).  The lowest bent branch on the Holly Street pine is more than 10′ above the ground.  I think it is a case of unusual artwork by Mother Nature.

I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Ashland’s 2020 Tree of the Year. I will write a comprehensive photo essay about the tree at a later date.

Tree of the Year 2001: Blue Atlas Cedar (short version)

Blue Atlas Cedar on Liberty Street.
Bears like to sit high in this tree!

The tree 391 Liberty Street (a house that was moved from Beach Street) was Ashland’s 2001 Tree of the Year.  Each year residents nominate favorite trees around town, the Tree Commission narrows the selection to a few, and then residents vote for their top choice.  The 2001 choice was a majestic Blue Atlas Cedar.  My photo through the electric wires doesn’t do it justice.  I hope you will see it for yourself.

This photo was taken in the year 1980. The red arrow points to the Blue Atlas Cedar at 391 Liberty Street. (photo by Terry Skibby, from City of Ashland website)
Tree of the Year 2001
Sign in front of the Tree of the Year 2001 on Liberty Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Liberty Street residents have told me of seeing a mother bear and two cubs sitting about 40 feet up in this tree!

Tree of the Year 2001
This photo of the Blue Atlas Cedar was taken in 2020. It was difficult for me to capture a good photo of this tree. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Ashland’s 2001 Tree of the Year. I will write a comprehensive photo essay about the tree at a later date.

Tree of the Year 2004: Monterey Cypress on Scenic Drive (short version)

Another massive Monterey Cypress.
Corner of Wimer Street and Scenic Drive.

Tree of the Year 2004
2004 Tree of the Year, Monterey Cypress, 407 Scenic Drive at corner of Wimer Street.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The 2004 Ashland Tree of the Year lives here at 407 Scenic Drive. It is a massive Monterey Cypress, possibly planted in 1889 when the house was built. Arborist Casey Roland explained to me that for a Monterey Cypress in Ashland to get this large, there is probably a stream running underground near the tree.

Tree of the Year 2004
Sign for the 2004 Tree of the Year, Monterey Cypress, 407 Scenic Drive.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The historic 1889 house at 407 Scenic Drive

407 Scenic Drive
The Tree of the Year is in the front yard of this historic house at 407 Scenic Drive.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

This beautifully renovated 1889 house at 407 Scenic Drive is independently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the best examples in Ashland of the Queen Anne/Eastlake architectural style. It was built in 1889 by S. Pedigrift, a mason and plasterer who seems to have lived in Ashland only three or four years.

Notice especially the matching Queen Anne style bay windows. George Kramer wrote in the National Register nomination form that the bay windows are so typical of “Eastlake fancy work” style that Pedigrift may have purchased them from a catalog and incorporated them into the house design.

Through the mid-20th century, the owners of the house also cultivated orchards up the hillside behind the house. Robert Dooms, who owned the house and lived there from the mid-1950s to 1988, told George Kramer that when he was a child in Ashland, the previous owner Robert Johnson “paid him $1 a pound for picking cherries, apricots, and peaches behind the house.”

I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Ashland’s 2004 Tree of the Year. I will write a comprehensive photo essay about the tree at a later date.

“Hope You Smile” – flower mural on East Main Street

Colorful flowers brighten a fence.
East Main Street at Wightman Avenue.
Ashland neighborhood art.
Artist: Shea Cathey.

“Hope You Smile”

Between COVID-19 and wildfire smoke in the Rogue Valley, summer 2021 was a difficult one. We needed as many bright moments in our days as possible. This mural has been bringing smiles to faces and hearts since it was painted in June 2021. Whenever you drive, bicycle or walk along East Main Street, it is likely to brighten your day. 

Every time I drive past the beautiful artwork you created on your fence it puts a smile on my face, no matter how I’m feeling or what I’m dealing with. Thank you for sharing some joy!

Anonymous. This note was placed in Jody’s mailbox, September 2021

The colorful flowers were born from the vision of homeowner Jody Johnson and artist Shea Cathey. Their intention from the beginning was to uplift community members who pass by, which is why Shea named the mural “Hope You Smile.” As you can see from the quote above, they are succeeding. I had the pleasure of talking with both Jody and Shea.

The origin story

I asked Jody when she first envisioned the mural. She told me this story: “My husband Mark and I moved here three years ago. Both of us love color, the brighter the better. When we moved in, the fence was weather-beaten, gray, and falling apart. We had it shored up and stained. 

“After moving here, I missed my friends. I started volunteering at the Senior Center, helping with lunches. That’s where I met Shea. She is wonderful, a really giving person, and very talented. I’m not sure Shea knows how talented she is. Shea was doing art lessons and projects with the senior citizens before COVID shut all that down. After they shut down lunches at the Senior Center, Shea and I stayed in touch. 

“Mark and I walk this neighborhood a lot. A couple houses down that way [she pointed toward Fordyce Street] have painted their fences. We thought they were really creative. Once we ate at the Mexican restaurant [La Casa del Pueblo on Siskiyou Blvd.] and they had a beautiful mural on the wall. I was thinking: I wonder if I could find out who did it, because I think our fence would be the perfect place for a mural.”

Fordyce Street, Ashland Oregon
Overview of the Jellyfish mural on Fordyce Street, painted by J. Mike Kuhn. This is one of the neighborhood murals that inspired Jody. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
La Casa del Pueblo restaurant
La Casa del Pueblo restaurant, dining room wall mural. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

Offer to the artist

Jody didn’t find out who painted the mural at La Casa del Pueblo, but she already knew a good artist. She continued her story: “When COVID hit, Shea wasn’t as busy as she was before. We were out to lunch one day, and I said to her, ‘Would you ever be interested in doing a mural on my fence?’ And she was like, ‘Sure, that sounds like fun.’ Then she asked, ‘What do you want painted?’ I said, ‘You are the person with the talent and the artistic ability. I just like color, so I want something with a lot of color.’ Based on that, she made a drawing for me – and I loved it!”

See a photo of the original drawing below.

Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” mural by Shea Cathey. This is the original illustration prepared for Jody and sent to the Mill Pond HOA. (photo by Shea Cathey, 2021)

Jody told me she thought of painting the inside of the fence, but she felt like that would be selfish. She wanted people to enjoy it as they drove by, and also to provide a colorful entrance to her Mill Pond neighborhood. Before painting could begin, she had to take the idea to the Mill Pond HOA (Home Owners Association) for approval. Almost everyone on the HOA board liked the drawing, so the mural was approved.

Mural by Shea Cathey
Jody Johnson, homeowner, with her fence mural. I think Jody likes colorful flowers!
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The humble artist

“I’m not sure Shea knows how talented she is.”

Jody Johnson

Shea Cathey grew up in a small Louisiana town. She has loved making art since early childhood. She took art classes in high school, and at 17 years of age one of her paintings was chosen for an exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. When she got to college, she studied nursing and let her art go for a while. 

I asked, “When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?” Shea replied, “There’s still a part of me that feels like I am pretending, even when I am teaching art classes, because I didn’t get a degree in art.” On the related subject of selling her paintings, she said, “Painting and drawing are things I enjoy so much that I feel weird charging people for it. That’s something that I know I have to get over.” 

Shea and her husband had lived all their lives in Louisiana. A combination of introspection and difficult life lessons led them to consider moving. They researched nationwide for a state with a good scope of practice for nurse practitioners (her husband’s profession), a small town with a university, an open-minded area that supports art and artists, and finally a good school system for their four children. Where did they end up? Right here in Ashland.

The humble artist as excellent teacher

“I enjoy teaching people art because people who say, ‘I’m not an artist, I can’t even draw a straight line,’ end up taking my course, really liking it, and being proud of themselves. That makes me so happy!”

Shea Cathey

Since moving to Ashland, Shea has taught art classes through the Senior Center and OLLI, as well as in Bellview School classrooms and private lessons. She told me, “Pre-pandemic, I taught a free art class at the Senior Center once a month, called something like ‘Art with Friends.’ That class was always full.” Since COVID shut down in-person classes, she has taken on the challenge of teaching art on Zoom. It still works, but is not quite as satisfying.

I was moved by Shea’s description of her deep emotional connection with her art students. 

“I enjoy teaching people art because people who say, ‘I’m not an artist, I can’t even draw a straight line,’ end up taking my course, really liking it, and being proud of themselves. That makes me so happy! So it makes me feel weird charging them. It seems like an experience that everybody deserves.” 

The grateful artist

“I have a really awesome circle of friends here in Ashland, that I never had in Louisiana.”

Shea Cathey

Shea is grateful that her family lives in Ashland, and that she can share her love of art with people here. Her appreciation of the Ashland community led her to say “Yes” to Jody’s offer.

Late May and early June, when painting took place, had many days with temperatures in the 90s. Hence the sunglasses when I stopped to talk with Shea and take her photo on June 1st, a 99-degree day. Sitting in front of the south-facing fence, she cared for her body by limiting painting to morning hours as much as possible.

Mural by Shea Cathey
Artist at work: Shea Cathey painting (in a little bit of shade) on June 1, 2021.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The painting process, step by step

The small drawing Shea created for Jody, which you saw above, was the template she worked from. She was right at home painting a fence, for two reasons. First, I was surprised when she told me, during our interview, that almost all of her studio paintings have been done on wood rather than canvas. Second, she likes to paint big things. Whether a studio painting, a mural on a bedroom wall or on a fence, she is comfortable going big. 

Painting begins with paint. Shea likes to mix her own paint colors. Normally, she only buys the three primary colors – red, yellow and blue – plus black and white. Then she mixes any other colors she needs from them. 

The first step was sketching outlines on the fence of the flowers and leaves.  Sadly, I missed taking a photo of that step.

“While she was painting, so many people stopped to tell her how they loved it – and they still do. Especially when the farmers market is happening across the street, I can’t tell you many people have told my husband and me, ‘That makes us feel so happy.'”

Jody Johnson

Next came filling in the outlines with white paint, which acted as primer on the fence.

Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” fence mural by Shea Cathey, early in the painting process.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

Then came color – lots of color. Seen from across the street, the colors seem to flow together, to complement each other. The photo below shows the almost-completed mural.

Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” mural by Shea Cathey, as seen from across the street in front of the National Guard Armory, near the end of the painting process. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

Seen up close, I enjoy the variety of colors in the flowers and leaves. Each bright flower seems to pop out of the fence on its own, saying “Look at me.” 

Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” mural by Shea Cathey, detail of flowers and leaves, near the end of the painting process. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

As a final step in completing the design, Shea painted a white background between the flowers to help the colors stand out. She left the original orange-brown fence color top and bottom as a frame for the mural. The frame ties in with the colors of Jody and Mark’s house.

Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” detail of the completed mural by Shea Cathey on East Main Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)
Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” detail of the completed mural by Shea Cathey on East Main Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)
Mural by Shea Cathey
“Hope You Smile,” the completed mural by Shea Cathey on East Main Street. I took this photo in front of the National Guard Armory, across the street from the mural.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

What kind of flowers are these?

What do you think? 

I asked Shea. She told me she would call them ranunculus, or buttercups, though you could make an argument for peonies. I have peonies in my home garden and they don’t quite match the mural. I had to look up photos of ranunculus. When I did, I thought, Yes…that’s what the fence flowers are.

Ranunculus asiaticus bloom. (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Where to find “Hope You Smile”

You will find the mural on East Main Street near the corner of Wightman Street. Another landmark is the National Guard Armory, location of the Tuesday Growers & Crafters Market, which is across the street from the mural.

The design and colors of this mural provide an uplifting moment for drivers going by on East Main Street. The design also provides nearly endless fascination for pedestrians, who may be drawn to appreciate individual flowers, then walk on refreshed.

References:

Cathey, Shea. Interview June 2021 and other communications.

Johnson, Jody. Interview September 2021.

Tree of the Year 1988: Monterey Cypress

Massive tree planted in 1905.
See the tree in 1915, 2001 & 2020.
In front of Briscoe School.
Ashland’s first Tree of the Year!

I have been impressed by the huge Monterey cypress in front of Briscoe School ever since I moved to Ashland in 1991. It is an awe-inspiring sight along North Main Street. 

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
Monterey Cypress, Tree of the Year 1988. This photo was taken in 2020. (photo by Peter Finkle)

Did you know that Ashland has a Tree of the Year?

Did you know that Ashlanders vote each year to choose one Tree of the Year? Years ago, when I first heard about our Tree of the Year tradition, I was happy to learn that the voters’ very first choice – in 1988 – was this Monterey cypress. I will share a little of this tree’s story with you, including photos from 1915, 2001 and 2021.

Our 1988 Tree of the Year grows at the corner of North Main Street and Laurel Street. This corner was part of early Ashland, all the way back to the 1860s. This is far from the oldest tree in Ashland, but it has lived more than 115 years. The sign on the tree says it was planted in 1905 by Ross Eliason. Ross was an early Ashlander and an active member of the First Methodist Church across the street from the Monterey cypress tree. I visited the church to see what I could learn. 

Former church member David Mason told me: “Somewhere in my archives is an autobiography written by Ross Eliason. Myself and another Ashland tree commission member cut the sidewalk around that cypress tree in 1992 or so and we put up a brass plaque on the tree. Don’t remember what it said.”

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
This photo shows how the sidewalk was cut around the base of the trunk.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The brass plaque is still there, so you can see for yourself what it says.

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
Plaque on Tree of the Year 1988 says: “Cypress, Planted April 1905 by Ross Eliason.”
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The tree in 1915

We are fortunate to have a 1915 photo of the old West Side School, which was at this site before Briscoe School. On the left edge of the photo is a small tree (see arrow), which must be the young ten-year-old Monterey Cypress.

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
This photo of the West Side School (where Briscoe School is now) was taken in 1915. The red arrow points to the 10-year-old Monterey Cypress. It has grown a lot in the past 106 years! (photo at the City of Ashland website, Tree Commission section; from the Terry Skibby collection)

About 40 feet up in the tree, “There are millions of ants, biting ants!”

Casey Roland

Tips from arborist Casey Roland

I visited the tree with arborist Casey Roland. He told me that he climbed way up into this tree to prune it a couple times when he worked for Tom Myers at Upper Limb It. I learned a lot as I listened to him.

First, I learned something that surprised me. The “center” of the large Monterey Cypress branch that was cut in the early 2000s is not at the center! The hardest core wood for supporting the branch is very close to the top. Casey pointed to the branch’s core wood in this photo. 

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
In this photo, Casey Roland points to the location of the hardest core wood that supported this large branch that was cut off the Monterey Cypress. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

If you look closely at these photos, you can see that the annual rings of the branch growth are much more widely spaced toward the bottom of the branch than at the top. Casey said, “It’s the same number of growth rings top and bottom, just a difference in how close together they are.”

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
This photo shows the annual growth rings of a large branch that was cut off the Monterey Cypress. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

I learned that when he prunes a Monterey Cypress, he cuts as few branches as possible. This is because the branches tend to overlap as they grow. When this happens, the branches support and protect each other. “The fuller you have the canopy, the less likely they are to break in a strong wind or after snowfall,” Casey said. 

The tree in 2001 and 2020

Heavy snow did severely damage the 1988 Tree of the Year sometime after the photo below was taken in 2001. You can see how full the tree was in 2001, from the top almost all the way to the ground. I took a photo in 2020 from almost the same spot as the 2001 photo. You can see that many lower branches were totally removed by 2020, and even some of the upper branches had to be cut back. The massive trunk now stands out more than it once did. The Monterey Cypress is not ‘the tree is once was,’ but it is still quite impressive.

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
This photo of the Monterey Cypress in front of Briscoe School was taken in 2001. You can see how full the tree canopy is compared with the 2020 photo.
(photo from the City of Ashland website, Tree Commission section)
Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
This photo of the Monterey Cypress in front of Briscoe School was taken in 2020, from almost the same spot as the 2001 photo. You can see how many large branches the tree has lost since 2001 – but it is still massive. (photo by Peter Finkle)

Finally, another addition to my knowledge of trees. As I wrote above, Casey has been high in this tree. He told me that about 40 feet up in the tree, “There are millions of ants, biting ants!” That sounds very uncomfortable for the arborist. I got the impression that these ants live their entire lives up in the tree.

The natural home for Monterey Cypress trees

Monterey Cypress
1906 postcard of Monterey Cypress trees in their natural habitat in Monterey County, California. (postcard from Wikimedia Commons)

Monterey Cypress are naturalized only along the central coast of California, near Monterey. Hmm, I wonder how they got their name. These coastal trees are wind-blown from constant coastal breezes. As a result, they normally do not get very large or tall, and they tend to be gnarled in their growth patterns.  

Monterey Cypress
Monterey Cypress trees along the coast in Pebble Beach, California.
(photo by Amy Halverson, on Wikimedia Commons, 2008)

They now grow around the world

Monterey Cypress are now widespread in New Zealand and grow in many other countries around the world. They prefer cool summers and coastal areas, but as you can see from many healthy Monterey Cypress in Ashland, they are adaptable. 

For a “sneak preview” of my 2004 Tree of the Year article, you can visit the huge Monterey Cypress at the corner of Scenic Drive and Wimer Street. Why are these Ashland trees so large despite our hot summers? According to the San Francisco Botanical Garden website, “Monterey cypress that are planted in watered, protected areas away from the ocean grow bigger, taller and straighter.” Regarding water, Casey Roland believes that both the 1988 and 2004 Monterey Cypress Trees of the Year are growing above either a spring or an underground stream that nourishes their roots.

 A brief history of the site where this tree is growing

This tree has seen generations of Ashland students pass under its branches. However, a school was here even before the tree was planted, going all the way back to 1872. That is when Methodist minister J.H. Skidmore founded the Ashland Academy here. It was most likely a two-year college.  

Ashland Academy
The Ashland Academy, with students and faculty, in the 1890s. According to Southern Oregon Digital Archives, “The rock on the right of the image was used by children to mount horses and is presently located next to Briscoe School on Laurel Street.” (“This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library.”)

The Academy failed financially, closed in 1879, then reopened in 1882. With a small boost due to recognition as a Normal School (a teacher training school) by the state of Oregon, the college had four teachers and 42 students in 1882. This ‘life’ of the college only lasted until 1890. However, Ashland’s college has had as many lives as a cat, and it finally settled in 1926 at its current location on Siskiyou Boulevard – as a Normal School, then a State College and now a University. 

A building here at North Main Street and Laurel Street replaced the Academy and was used for Ashland High School from 1890 until 1911. It was initially known as West Side School and later was called Washington School. By the 1940s, Washington School was in poor condition. Briscoe Elementary School was built here in 1949. Still here, it is not currently used as a school due to Ashland’s declining elementary school age population.

I think you will enjoy a brief visit to the 1890s, courtesy of the “horse mounting rock.” See the photo below.

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
The rock used by Ashland Academy students of the late 1800s as a booster to help them mount horses is in the foreground of this photo. The 1988 Tree of the Year is behind it.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The Briscoe School logo 

Briscoe School
Briscoe School: 1997-1998 student directory. Note the Monterey Cypress tree logo. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

The majestic tree next to Briscoe School touched generations of school children, teachers and administrators. I learned from the mother of long-ago Briscoe students that it was even adopted as the school’s logo. Look at this Student Directory from 1997-1998. 

The Briscoe School song

Briscoe School had a school song, written by Jill Joos Rothman. It was called “Briscoe: Roots to the Future.” If you attended Briscoe, you may remember singing it. Here are the words to the chorus:

            Roots to the future, seeds in the past.
            Branches reaching to the sky.
            Knowledge we gain here will last and last.
            Briscoe will carry you inside.
            Briscoe will carry you inside.

There is our 1988 Tree of the Year again, part of the school song – “Branches reaching to the sky.”

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
Looking up from the base of the Monterey Cypress, 1988 Tree of the Year. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

Introduction to our Tree of the Year program

Finally, I would like to introduce the Tree of the Year program for readers not familiar with it. The city Tree Commission was established by Ashland City Council in 1983. One of its first goals was to establish Arbor Day tree planting and education in town. A few years later, in 1988, the commission began the annual Tree of the Year tradition.

Each year, the Tree Commission collects Tree of the Year nominations from citizens. The nomination form on the city website says that “Nominated trees should be visible from the street and NOT located within a city park or right-of-way.” Commissioners visit the nominated trees and narrow the field to about five finalists. Then “we the people” make the final choice. Tree commissioners have told me that very few people vote for Tree of the Year. I hope my articles will increase interest and participation!

During the next few years, I will feature each Tree of the Year with its own photo essay. I will learn from arborists, historical research, tree websites, neighbors and more, then share what I learn with you. I also hope to learn stories about these special trees from readers.

In closing, I like this summary of the benefits of trees.

“From the Tree Commissioners: An ongoing responsibility of Ashland’s Tree Commission is to promote public awareness about the trees and associated ecosystems that comprise our community forest. All the city’s trees, shrubs or bushes, whether standing on public or private property, absorb water and prevent soil erosion, contribute oxygen to the local atmosphere and add plant matter that becomes compost in our soils. Trees, apart from these beneficial physical contributions to our environment, have long captivated humans with their graceful forms and silent beauty. Every time we appreciate their intricate shapes or seasonal colors, we realize again that trees bring a powerful if intangible richness into our daily lives.” [Todt & Holley] 

Ashland Tree of the Year 1988
Artistic photo of Ashland Tree of the Year 1988. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

References:

Anon. City of Ashland website, page with a link to photos of each Tree of the Year, many with a historical photo of the tree.

Anon. City of Ashland website, page with a photo and map location of each Tree of the Year.

Anon. San Francisco Botanical Garden website. (accessed June 2021)

Darling, John. “150 years of faith,” Ashland Tidings, Jul 10, 2014.

Holley, Bryan. Former Tree Commission member. Interview June 2021.

Mason, David. Personal communication, June 2021.

McKay, Dan. Personal communications, June 2021.

National Register of Historic Places, Skidmore-Academy Historic District, prepared August 1, 2000 by George Kramer with Kay Atwood.

O’Harra, Marjorie. Ashland: the first 130 years, Northwest Passages Publishing Inc. 1986.

Roland, Casey (arborist). Interview and personal communications, June 2021 and other dates.

Todt, Donn & Holley, Brian. “Understanding Ashland’s Green Heritage,” draft of article published in Ashland Daily Tidings, 2003, provided by Brian Holley. 

Ashland City Band: Typewriter concert and other stories (Part 3)

Three times through the 4th of July parade!
Typewriter as an instrument!
100-year-old City Band member.

This series of articles is based on an interview with three men who between them have 164 years of experience with the Ashland City Band, along with other research. 

4th of July parade story – three times through 

Who has been in Ashland’s 4th of July parade three different times in one parade? Only Raoul Maddox of the Ashland City Band. Here’s how it happened.

The Ashland City Band has led the 4th of July parade for decades. (photo by Peter Finkle)

First time through: The City Band has always marched at the front of the parade, right after the motorcycle police and color guard that lead the parade. Several band members have also been in the Firehouse 5 band that played the parade route on the back of a pickup truck or an old fire truck. 

Firehouse 5
Firehouse 5 in the Ashland 4th of July parade, circa 1965 – not the year Raoul Maddox was in the parade three times. (photo by Morgan Cottle)

Second time through: When Maddox was in the Firehouse 5 band, he kept his car on Water Street at the end of the parade route, then drove as fast as he could through the residential streets back to the parade starting point for his second time through. 

Now, third time through: For three years, in the late 1960s or early 1970s, there was also an Ashland High Alumni Band that marched in the parade. These were former high school band members who came together just for fun. Well, and also for the incentive of a keg of beer from Cook’s Tavern downtown after the parade, so they could “tip a glass or two with their old friends.” During these years, Maddox somehow had to make it back to the parade start one more time to march with the Alumni Band.

4th of July parade story – backwards through the parade

Ed told me his father Dave Wight (City Band Conductor from 1968-1976) would sometimes get a police escort back to the parade starting point, so he could make it for his second time through the parade with the Firehouse 5. In those days the Firehouse 5 would meet before the parade in an office downtown where one of them worked.  To get in the proper spirit of the parade, they consumed plenty of local ‘spirits’ beforehand.  One year when Dave played, they drove the fire truck backwards in the parade – possibly the result of a rather conspicuous consumption of local beverages that day.

Typewriter as an instrument!

2008 witnessed the centennial of American composer Leroy Anderson’s birth.  In honor of the centennial, Don Bieghler conducted a different Anderson piece during every concert that year.  One Anderson composition was a short novelty piece for typewriter and band, written in 1950.  Percussionist Yvonne Rowe was selected to perform the solo on her trusty Remington typewriter.

Sadly, I do not have a photo of percussionist Yvonne Rowe playing the piece with the Ashland City Band. This photo shows Leroy Anderson’s typewriter concert in a still from a video by Brandenburger Symphoniker on April 12, 2012. Link to watch video is below.
(photo from YouTube video)

When it came time for the piece, Yvonne surprised the band and truly made it fun.  First her husband brought out an authentic early 20th-century typewriter stand. Then Yvonne came out dressed for the part with a big grey wig, cake makeup, and long-skirted secretarial attire from 60 years earlier.  It delighted everyone, and after a great performance the band gave her a standing ‘O.’ I wish I had a video of Yvonne and the Ashland City Band performing this piece. The best I could do was find a version for you on YouTube. Here is a link to the one I liked best. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW8dGwa2zRw

Guest conductors

James DePreist was the conductor of the Portland Symphony and the Britt Festival Orchestra. Raoul invited him to conduct encores several times at the Ashland City Band. One encore piece was a University of Michigan football fight song, and DePreist asked Maddox, “What’s a wolverine?” 

Ed Wight tells a story of two “surprise” guest conductors. The City Band closes every concert with a couple marches.  For one concert in 1979, Raoul Maddox spotted two former City Band conductors in the audience.  On the spot, he invited both Irv Myrick and Dave Wight to conduct the marches that night. Even the guest conductors were surprised.

Martin Majkut

Martin Majkut is the conductor of the Rogue Valley Symphony. Many people don’t know that his first conducting experience in the Rogue Valley was not with the symphony, but was conducting the Ashland City Band. Majkut moved here in the summer of 2010, but the symphony season didn’t start until the fall. That summer he conducted the City Band in an arrangement of a Czechoslovakian tone poem.

In the summer of 2019, in honor of his 10th year in the Rogue Valley, I got to see Majkut guest-conduct a second time with the Ashland City Band.  

Virginia and the trap door

Ashland City Band, 1916
This photo shows an Ashland City Band concert in Lithia Park, probably 1916. This is the original bandstand with the trap door in the floor. (“This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library.”)

This is a story from the 1940s about Virginia Westerfield, a long time clarinet player in the band. To get into the old bandstand, you had to enter through a trap door. You had to climb up narrow steps, then the door in the bandstand floor was swung back to let musicians in. Before the concert could begin, the trap door had to be closed for all the musicians to fit on the stage. Apparently, Virginia was late in arriving one day and found the trap door shut tight against her. We don’t know if the conductor intentionally closed the trap door to keep her out, or if he didn’t realize she was coming up the stairs. But after that, she was never late again during all her years with the band!

A 100-year-old City Band member 

Ashland City Band
Preston Mitchell played tuba for the Ashland City Band until he was nearly 100 years old.
(photo by Greg Badger, 2015)

According to Bieghler, “Preston Mitchell, who played tuba in the band starting in 1989, was 100 years old in September 2017.  We surprised him by playing ‘Happy Birthday’ at a park concert. Preston retired at the end of the 2017 season.”   

Bieghler went on to say he gets frequent requests to play ‘Happy Birthday’ during a concert. To avoid awkward moments turning people down, the band came up with an ingenious solution. They only play ‘Happy Birthday’ “for those who are 100 years old.” So far, the only one to meet this threshold besides Preston Mitchell was an audience member – Sadie Williams – in 2016. 

More to come 

There are still more City Band stories to tell. I will share more humorous and meaningful band stories in Part 4 of this series about the Ashland City Band. 

References:

Ashland City Band website, accessed November 2019. 

Author in-person interview with Don Bieghler, Ed Wight and the late Raoul Maddox on July 7, 2019. Thanks to Ed Wight and Don Bieghler for proofing the article and adding more of their memories in the process.

Poem: Beach Street

Beach Street is not by the sand
or even near the beach.

Named after Ashland pioneer
Henry Beach Carter, it is near
Southern Oregon University,
where thousands of students –
and their teacher/mentors –
share
(with Beach Street residents and the community)
inspiring music, art, sports and learning.

To the north, Beach Street ends at
Siskiyou Boulevard and
Ashland High School,
where young actors, athletes and adults
are shaped and forged.

To the south, Beach Street ends at the
Siskiyou Mountain range,
where mountain hikers and mountain bikers
find a paradise to explore.

Actors, doctors, students, families, business people
and more all share Beach Street with
deer, bears, raccoons, turkeys and
massive trees full of squirrels and jays.

Peter Finkle   April 7, 2018

Poem: 4th of July in Ashland, Oregon

C’mon everybody,
don’t delay.
We want to claim our spot
on the parade route
before the excitement 
explodes like fireworks.

Heads tilt
as the low-flying jets zoom overhead.
Heads swivel
as friends, neighbors and local celebrities
pass by, and all this
before the parade even begins.

I laugh to hear my friend mutter
   “only in Ashland”
as the parade flows by with
grass-skirted hula dancers, followed by
kilt-wearing bag pipers, followed by
the Jewish temple Klezmer band, followed by
Jesus carrying his large wooden cross.

The young ones 
are wide-eyed for
unicycles and stilt-walkers,
ever-alert to leap
for incoming candy.

We admire classic old cars and wild art cars,
we cheer young gymnasts
back-flipping their way down Main Street,
we clap along with the enthusiastic,
tie-dye clad Ashland Middle School band.

After the parade,
we gather as a community in Lithia Park
to hear the entire
Declaration of Independence,
to remember
why we celebrate this day.

Ashland City Band: Since 1876 (part 2)

145 years of City Band history.
Why the band has ‘so much fun.’
One rehearsal is all they get!

It all began in the year…

How many names has the Ashland City Band had since 1876? What makes our City Band unique? All this and more in this article, part 2 of 4. It is based primarily on a 2019 interview with three men (Don Bieghler, Ed Wight and the late Raoul Maddox) who between them have 164 years of experience with the Ashland City Band.  

Ashland City Band, possibly 1880s
This is the earliest photo of the Ashland City Band I have seen. It was called the Brass Band at the time. This photo may be from the late 1870s or in the 1880s. (photo from Ashland City Band website, from Southern Oregon Historical Society)

Founded as the Ashland Brass Band in 1876, our City Band has had four (and possibly six) names in the past 145 years. There is a photo on the Ashland City Band website taken between 1880 and 1895 labeled “Ashland Band.” After 1890, when Otis Helman (Ashland co-founder Abel Helman’s son) was named the conductor, this band was also known as the “Helman Red Suit Band.” The city band became the Ashland Concert Band in 1915. Then in the 1940s, the name was Ashland Municipal Band. Finally, in 1952 the band got its current name. 

1916 and the dedication of Lithia Park

Ashland City Band, 1916
This photo shows an Ashland City Band concert in Lithia Park, probably 1916. The current Lithia Park Bandshell is in the same location as this original bandstand. (“This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library.”)

1916 was a big year for Ashland and for the City Band. Lithia Park was dedicated in July 1916 during the largest 4th of July celebration in our town’s history. Four local city bands played at the bandstand and other park locations during the three-day extravaganza. In addition to Ashland’s city band, bands from Medford, Grants Pass and Central Point played for three days in a row. According to an article in the Table Rock Sentinel, each band had about 20 members in 1916.

The Ashland City Band continued to play at the Lithia Park bandstand all summer, as shown by this article from the Ashland Tidings.

Ashland City Band 1916
“The Ashland band will give two concerts a week,” says the Ashland Tidings article of May 25, 1916. (photo of newspaper on microfilm by Peter Finkle)

City support for the band

In 1938, voters of the city of Ashland approved a small tax to support their city band. I consider that a huge vote of confidence in the band by the people of Ashland. However, state Measures 47 and 50 in the 1990s overrode local funding of the band. The city band is still part of the Ashland Municipal Charter, but its annual financing now comes from the city General Fund. 

The Municipal Charter states that “The City Band shall present not less than ten concerts, including the Fourth of July parade, during each summer season.” And they do (except when impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021).

Wight and Bieghler did research and found only one other city band in the state of Oregon (Corvallis) that has a full slate of summer public concerts. Having our City Band funded by the city makes it even more unique. Most city bands throughout the United States have to depend on donations and fundraising to continue playing.

Size of the City Band

The brass band started out small in the late 1800s. After Lithia Park’s dedication in 1916, the band size was limited by the size of the park bandstand. It could accommodate a maximum of 25 to 27 musicians.

During Dave Wight’s time as conductor, the number of players was usually in the 40s. Maddox conducted from 1977 to 1997 and increased the band size to between 75 and 80 musicians. 

Raised bandstand

Lithia Park bandstand, 1915 or 1916
This photo shows the original Lithia Park raised bandstand soon after it was built in 1915 or 1916. (“This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University. Hannon Library.”)

In 1947, Maddox’s first year with the band as a 14-year-old, the band still played at the 1916-era raised bandstand in Lithia Park. The only way up was through a trap door in the middle of the bandstand floor. Once the time came for the band to play, it was closed, and no one else could get in. 

The City of Ashland funded construction of the current band shell in 1949.

Soloists and community sing-along

From the 1930s through the 1960s, the audience would occasionally join the band in a “community sing-along.” We have lost that aspect of community singing in our nation’s culture over the decades since then.

Vocal soloists were also a much more prominent part of the band concerts many years ago. Ray Tumbleson, music professor at Southern Oregon College from 1963 to 1983, provided many vocal solo performances with the band. He was just one of many popular local singers who would perform with the band.

Boost in City Band quality

Ed Wight said, “When I was in high school, seven of my high school classmates were in the band. This was when it was 45 to 55 musicians. I looked around three or four years ago, now that the band is 75-strong. You would think there is even more room for high school kids. Well, there were only two, and they were both state champions on their instruments! The band under Raoul Maddox didn’t just get bigger, it got better.” The photo below shows the late Raoul Maddox in 2015.

Ashland City Band
Raoul Maddox played trombone for the Ashland City Band for 50 years, and also conducted the band for another 21 years. (photo by Greg Badger, 2015)

In recent years, the City Band has been able to draw musicians who play in other bands during the fall, winter and spring. One was the Rogue Valley Wind Ensemble, which first performed in 1968 and later grew into the Rogue Valley Symphonic Band. Another was the Hillah Temple Shrine Band, founded in 1909, which evolved in around 1991 into the larger Southern Oregon Concert Band. Both of these bands indirectly improved the City Band in another way.  Unlike before 1988, most players now show up for the City Band season each June in top performance condition, having just played concerts with the other bands.

One other factor also improved the quality of the band’s performance. In the mid-1950s, the band had five different conductors in five years.  That changed in 1958.  Since that year, there have been only four conductors, and each enjoyed many years at the helm:  Herb Cecil (1958-1967), Dave Wight (1968-1976), Raoul Maddox (1977-1997) and Don Bieghler (1998-present).  That individual longevity provides the stability and consistency of leadership necessary to maintain and improve overall performance standards.

“So much fun”

“We’re all having so much fun that nobody’s leaving the band. Over half the band is more than 60 years old now.” 

Don Bieghler and Ed Wight

One reason the band has so much fun is because current conductor Don Bieghler is willing to be creative. For example, at the July 29, 2021 concert, the audience and band members heard alphorns being played. What a fun sight and sound!

Ashland City Band 2021
Rogue Valley alphorns group played with the Ashland City Band at their concert on July 29, 2021. (photo by Peter Finkle)

Why is the City Band different from other bands? 

A major reason: the band has only one two-hour rehearsal for each show. The musicians walk into each Wednesday evening rehearsal and open a folder of pieces that they will play at the Thursday evening concert. That’s ten pieces to learn in two hours! How is that possible?

Here is a brief exchange during my interview to give you a little appreciation for the level of musicianship in the Ashland City Band.

Me: “The whole band concert takes 45 minutes to an hour, doesn’t it?”

Don: “Yes.”

Me: “So how can you fit a whole rehearsal into two hours…”

Don, Raoul, Ed: [laughter]

Me: “…playing the whole pieces, plus going over the challenging parts?”

Don: “I know that a piece of music is going to take four minutes to play, so I can allow eight minutes for it in rehearsal. A one-hour concert becomes two hours in rehearsal. So that’s the kind of guide I use.”

Me: “You’re really pushing…”

Ed: “It’s a challenge for the players. Not all good musicians are also good sight readers. You have to be a good sight reader – able to play a piece well the first time you see it – to play in the Ashland City Band.” 

There is no “luxury” to practice a piece for a few weeks, or even days, and then be ready for the concert. Current band conductor Don Bieghler explained that it starts with his selection of the music. “It has to be music at a level that we can read it. I have to select music that the audience will enjoy, so they want to come back. And I have to select music that the band enjoys playing.”

He gets suggestions for pieces from band members, but he makes the final selections. Bieghler also keeps detailed records, so that a popular piece is not played more than once every three years (except for marches). 

Bieghler told me that he usually chooses only one very challenging piece each season, which would take two or three weeks of rehearsal for that piece. Then he explained something that surprised me again, and took my respect for the band up another level. “Now if we have something that’s more challenging, and takes more time in rehearsal, then the piece before that and the piece after, we could probably sight read it at the concert. So, if needed, I choose something that’s simple enough to sight read while playing at the concert.”

The City Band and Jefferson Public Radio 

For about 20 years, radio station KSOR (JPR) would broadcast Thursday evening summer City Band concerts. “For several years,” said Maddox, “we would raise money for the station by having a guest conductor, and people would bid money to have their uncle come in and conduct one number with the band. The band would know the number by heart, so they didn’t have to watch the conductor at all.” 

Ashland City Band 2021
Ashland City Band plays in Lithia Park on July 22, 2021. (photo by Peter Finkle)

Conclusion

Why do band members and audience members come back each summer, year after year, decade after decade, to Ashland City Band concerts in Lithia Park? I’ll let long-time band member Ed Wright have the last word in this part 2 of 4 article. 

“It’s so much fun to play in an ensemble this good, and to get an incredible variety of music, and each concert is different. If you’re a musician who loves band music, to play with musicians this accomplished is nothing short of a thrill. Top to bottom, it’s one of the very best bands in the state, because we get the symphony wind players, the music teachers who want to play during the summer, and the SOU faculty members, all these people who are too busy to play in the community bands during fall, winter and spring. 

“Just one example: The French Horn section of the Ashland City Band is led [in 2019] by Cindy Hutton, Jennifer Cartensen and Linda Harris, and those are the top three horn players in the Rogue Valley Symphony. Additionally, the first chairs throughout the entire City Band brass section all play in the symphony. There’s such a high level of personnel sprinkled throughout the band, it increases the pleasure in performing good band repertory to hear all parts played so well.”

More to come

There are still more City Band stories to tell. I will share more humorous and meaningful band stories in Parts 3 and 4 of this series about the Ashland City Band. 

References:

Ashland City Band website, accessed November 2019. 

Ashland Tidings articles: April 14, 1877, July 18, 1879, September 26, 1879.

Atwood, Kay. Jackson County Conversations, Interview with Almeda Helman Coder, Jan 1974. 

Author in-person interview with Raoul Maddox, Don Bieghler and Ed Wight, July 7, 2019. Thanks to Ed Wight and Don Bieghler for reviewing the article and adding more of their memories in the process.