Lodi Band Needs New Recruits

Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 --- 8:00 a.m.

From NBC15's News Partner, the Lodi Enterprise:
By Jennifer Fetterly
Managing Editor

A more than half-century old Lodi band tradition may play their final notes this summer if more volunteers don't step up.

The Soon To Be Famous Lodi Band is down to 13 musicians and members say they won't be able to perform at area parades and concerts if that number dips down further.

Band member Jack Fitzgerald said the band reduced their performance schedule this summer because members have died, moved away or quit.

"We've cut our programs way back because we are afraid that we wouldn't have enough people to play," Fitzgerald says. "Now we are looking for people who played band instruments in high school. We need them to go up to their attics and get their old horns out and come and play."

The band wants musicians with previous band instrument experience and who are available for rehearsals
every other Tuesday night and for summer performances May through September.

Band member Bob Weber, who has played trombone in the band for the last 30 years, says people don't need to be concerned if they haven't picked up an instrument in a while because the current music repertoire is easy to learn.

"We just want people to come and give it a try," Weber says. "Once you start again you'd be surprised how quick it comes back to you."

The band needs any instrument experience but especially musicians with reed experience. The band also has instruments on loan if musicians don't have their own. Weber says the band provides shirts and there is no cost to band member volunteers to join.

The band, which is a mainstay at the Lodi Memorial Day and the Susie the Duck Day parades, as well as other area events, was started by Warren and Vilas Hibbard, Joe and Harold Dohm and Alvin Brager in 1953 as an American Legion Band.

The band was a big success from the 50s playing in parades across the state and at Saturday night concerts in Lodi in the old band shell at the Main Street four corners.

In the late 70s interest dwindled for the same reasons as today. Members who were World War I veterans were dying and others retired, or just moved away.

For five years there was no band until 1980 when a group of local musicians decided to revive the group and named it the "Soon To Be Famous Lodi Band".

"It went just like wildfire when we said we were going to have a band again," says band member Mike Michels, who plays trumpet.

The band grew with a lot of interest and continuing refinement of skills, along with an expanding play list of marching, Broadway and old-time tunes.

"When we are all there our band is good," Weber says. "I'm not bragging but we sound good."

But for the last two years membership has decreased spurning a new recruitment movement.

The band offered scholarships to Lodi High School students several years ago put discontinued it because the students couldn't play in summer events because of work schedules. The band is reviving the $200 scholarship program this year but making it dependent on how many events the students play.

Fitzgerald says older musicians are welcome also, and volunteers don't have to be from the Lodi area. Many current band members are from the Madison, Middleton, Stoughton and other areas.

The band says they will finish up this season including the Saturday, Aug. 14 Susie the Duck Day parade and end with Wo-Zha-Wa Days at Wisconsin Dells in September. But the 2011 summer season is still up in the air.

Band members say the end of the Lodi band would be a great loss to the community and the popularity of the Lodi area.

"On the side of our band wagon we have Lodi written on it," Michels says. "We are musical ambassadors, it's just like an advertisement for Lodi everywhere we go."

For more information on the Soon To Be Famous Lodi Band contact Bob Weber at (608) 592-4312 or Jack Fitzgerald at (608) 592-7223.

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