Thursday, July 31, 2008

Muni Band Will Play On

Do you take the free Long Beach Municipal Band summer concert series for granted?

Did you know that it was in jeopardy?

Some of you remember when the 8 week, 5 concert a week schedule was trimmed to 8 weeks, 4 concerts a week.


Some of you remember the 2 years when the 8 week, 4 concert a week schedule was trimmed to 6 weeks, 4 concerts a week.


A few years ago those 2 weeks were restored.


According to this article in the Long Beach Press Telegram, the band will be back for year 100 despite a reduction in its funding:

Band will play on
By John Canalis, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/30/2008 10:54:29 PM PDT

LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Municipal Band should make it to 100.

The nation's oldest municipally funded band, now in its 99th year, survived the city's suggested budget cuts, officials said Wednesday.

"There is a proposed and small reduction consistent with a lot of the reductions in the rest of the city," said Phil Hester, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine.

The band's $550,000 budget is facing about a 10 percent cut, or $5,500, Hester said.

"We're going to be starting on some of the celebrations for them," Hester said of the band's forthcoming centennial.

Along with "Snow Days" in city parks and the Police Athletic League, the band's coda is a perennial rumor around budget time. This year was no exception.

But supporters view the band as a cultural institution and have worked fervently over the years to preserve its funding, albeit in an abridged fashion. The band could also make up the shortfall with donations. The El Dorado Park Women's Association and other groups help raise money for the band.

In its prime, the band played large concerts at the vaunted Municipal Auditorium, which closed in 1975, and on the beach.

Now the band, led by conductor Larry Curtis, is best known for a summer series at Marine Stadium, the Aquarium of the Pacific and Bixby, El Dorado, Los Cerritos, Whaley and other parks.

The free event, now under the Sea Festival umbrella, draws large

crowds, who roll out blankets and picnic baskets well before showtime.
Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said she was told by the City Manager's Office as recently as three weeks ago that cuts of some kind were being considered for the band, but she did not know the percentage.

"We haven't seen the budget yet, so I don't want to be alarmist," Schipske said, "but that was put out there as one of the hypothetical-horrible, worst-case scenarios."

The budget, which was formulated by City Manager Pat West and Mayor Bob Foster, can be adjusted by the City Council, which has the final say.

There is likely to be some back-and-forth over the spending plan. The city must close a $16 million to $17 million budget gap.

Schipske said she would oppose any reductions to the "Muni Band."

"This is not the year to make reductions in the band," she said. "People are expecting a celebration."

No doubt supporters will be out at the next two performances, 6:30 tonight at Marine Stadium, and 6:30 p.m. Friday at El Dorado Park. For other upcoming performances, go to

I am grateful to those who feel that the Long Beach Municipal Band is worth preserving.

I love my job!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two-Voiced Tony

Week 6 of the Long Beach Municipal Band summer concert season opened in Bluff Park yesterday.

We've been blessed with mild weather on the coast. Last summer we froze as a brisk wind swirled around the band stand, rustling the sheet music and snatching flute notes from our very lips.

Tony Galla is back with us for another week.

What a magnificent performer the man is!

This week he's singing one of my all time favorite selections, inspired by this YouTube video of James Brown and Pavarotti:

Here's the beauty of Tony's rendition:


Come see this for yourself tonight at Los Cerritos Park.



Monday, July 28, 2008

Flying Folks

My brother gave me a call around 6:30pm yesterday.

"The next Jet Blue flight that departs is carrying our parents."

Ken had driven up to Whittier to chauffeur Mom and Dad down to the Long Beach Airport for their flight to Seattle.

He made sure they were safely tucked aboard their flight, then called me as he kept a watchful eye on their taxiing plane.

I went out to the front yard, phone in hand.

"There they go!", Ken reported from his vantage point at the airport.

Seconds later the hurtling silver tube emblazoned with the Jet Blue logo and containing our parental units shot into view.

I waved as Mom and Dad headed for a restful interlude on Orcas Island.

Ken's parting words: "Wow. You DO live close to the airport!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Punctured Flute Technician

My faithful flute has been clanking up a storm.

The first key on the left hand is catching and making noise.


Playing outside will do that to a flute.

Fortunately, excellent local flute technician Paul Rabinov made time to see me this coming Thursday to get things ironed out.

However, I got a call from his wife a little while ago.

Paul took a bad fall while riding his bike today. He is currently hospitalized with 5 broken ribs and a punctured lung.


Although he is in a lot of pain, he should eventually make a full recovery.

I'm grateful that he'll be okay.

Meanwhile, my flute can just clank a little longer.

Feel better Paul!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

True Love

The smell of burning electronics was strong in our office Friday evening after the last Cowboy concert of the week.

We were unable to locate the source of the stench...until the next day when I tried to power up my computer.

It was dead as a doornail.

A closer look revealed the power supply and mother board were fried to a crisp along with the CPU and a memory chip.

Other than that it was all good.

So where's the true love in this?

My dear, exhausted husband Bob spent 14 hours laboring to provide a working computer for me. In the process he rescued my drives and all the content, even though they seemed lost forever.

True love.

We have it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Changing View

As I patiently waited for the concert to begin at Marine Stadium this evening, I realized that I had been sitting in a different chair there each week for the last 3 weeks.

3 weeks ago I was in the piccolo chair while Eileen worked somewhere else.

Last week I was in my normal "Flute 2" chair.

Tonight I was "Flute 1", filling in for Patti:

That can be confusing for my fan base.


As the sound engineer, my husband always knows where I'm sitting.

Anyway, I've had a ton of solos to play this week. Who knew Cowboy music could be so flute friendly! I had a blast tonight because I can actually play all the music. That's always a plus!

One of the features unique to Marine Stadium are the "boat people." They pull right up next to the stage and enjoy the concert from the comfort of their sea going vessels:

They are also very generous with their donations to the band.

Next week for the first time in the 23 years that I've been playing with the band they will not be permitted to assume their usual positions in the water next to the band stand.

Marine Stadium will be closed.

We on the band stand were wondering about the stadium closure.

Did it need an acid wash?

Was it leaking?

Was the drain clogged?

Actually, the stadium will be closed while the course is being laid out for the Dragon Boat races the next day.

So while they could, the boat people were able to enjoy the band and the enchanting Carol Welsman:

The party continues at El Dorado Park tomorrow evening at 6:30pm.

It's your last chance to Yipee-Ki-Ya!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roping Up Notes

The Long Beach Municipal Band's Cowboy concert this week has a LOT of notes in it.

A lot.

On a typical concert day I'm out in the audience greeting people (well, mooching, sort of - it's amazing what a hungry looking band member in an enormous shirt can score from the tender hearted and well stocked members of the audience). Today I just crept onto the band stand and tried to focus.

I'm not trying to be uppity.

I just need to play me a lot of notes.

A lot.

The pay-off is huge, however.

The last piece on the concert band program is "The William Tell Overture"...better know as the Theme to the Lone Ranger.

It is SO FUN to watch the crowd suddenly light up and cheer as the trumpets play the opening fanfare.

Tonight all 2,300 of them got on their horses and RODE!

It makes those notes all worthwhile.

Every last one of them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bluff Park Season Debut

The Muni Band wagon train rolled into Bluff Park today for the first time this season.

Playing right next to the water has its issues, but on the whole the weather was warm with only occasional gusts of wind to play havoc with the music on our stands.

Sensational singer Carol Welsman joins us this week.

You won't want to miss your chance this week to get your cowboy on.

Tomorrow: Los Cerritos Park, 6:30pm. FREE!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008


This week is Cowboy week in Muni Band land.

The music is really, really good.

For example:

And how about:

This is a wonderful John Williams piece:

It wouldn't be Cowboy Week without this:

Join us in the parks of Long Beach as we bring you all this and more FOR FREE!!!

Concerts begin at 6:30pm


Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Frank Concert View

My view was frankly different today.

The Long Beach Municipal Band had a rare Sunday concert to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

How cool is it to get paid to play here:

The icing on the cake was the appearance of the insanely famous beFrank and Action Wife Dellis in the audience.

beFrank, as you know if you've read this blog for any time at all, is my blogging inspiration and hero. He has another blogging hero of mine, Lenslinger, gushing over him like a girl with her first crush. He's that good.

beFrank wasted no time in getting out the Blackberry to blog the event.

Bob came over to say hi to the Franks during the change-over break between the concert band and jazz band sets. He and Dellis were convinced that they had met before, but in reality their only meeting was via the blogsphere.

I love the blogsphere!

Dellis, Bryan, and I enjoyed the jazz portion of the concert while Bob continued to run sound. It was a beautiful evening, perfect to share with friends.

To Bryan and Dellis, thank you for taking the time to hang with the band.

(photo by beFrank)

To the rest of you, follow a frankly good example and come on out to the parks of Long Beach for a FREE Municipal Band concert. You've got 5 weeks left.

Next week: Cowboys!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy 78th Birthday Beverly!

My parents have been attending Long Beach Municipal Band concerts for the 23 years or so that I've had the privilege of being employed by that great institution. Our friend Beverly (above on the left) has spent the last 44 summers in the parks of Long Beach following the band.

Today was her 78th birthday. Where else did she choose to spend it but with us at the concert in El Dorado Park.

Happy Birthday Beverly!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Future Band Member?

I spotted him standing respectfully behind the rope, gazing in rapt concentration at the band. The music began, his instrument swung into position, and he was "playing" his very best:

Maybe one day he'll graduate to one of these:

Until then, he is performing most Thursdays at Marine Stadium.


If it's week three of the Long Beach Municipal Band season it must be "Dixieland on Parade".

I caught this shot of the Dixieland soloists right before they spontaneously combusted. They are BURNING hot players.

To top off a blazing line up, the magnificent Tony Galla joins the band as featured vocalist this week.

Not only is he a supremely talented singer, he is also an extremely nice guy.

Some of you may remember Tony from his younger days:

Please join us at Marine Stadium tonight, El Dorado Park tomorrow, or at a special Sunday concert at the Aquarium of the Pacific. All concerts are free and start at 6:30pm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Smoother Pavers

One of the many advantages of living in the city of Signal Hill is that its Public Works Department actually has money for street improvements.

We were notified two weeks ago that our street was in for a face lift.

Two days ago these signs went up throughout the surrounding neighborhood:

We dutifully parked our vehicles across the street in Long Beach last night.

I took this picture 10 minutes ago:

It is worth the inconvenience of a slight schlep to the car to get a newly re-surfaced street.

I am grateful to see "The Smoother Pavers" in action!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Danny Kaye's Bums

My sister and I learned the words to this song as wee children. I remember singing it with her to our beloved Grandma Ann as she lay in bed suffering from pancreatic cancer. She got a big kick out of it...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Costume Dancer

Her first appearance was late in last summer's Municipal Band season.

She and a young friend arrived at Marine Stadium decked out in high princess style.

When the music started, something remarkable happened.

These young beauties positioned themselves in front of the stage right speaker stacks and began to dance.

Theirs was an ecstatic dance, born of sheer joy and carried along by whatever selection the band happened to play.

They danced their hearts out for the entire concert band set.

As the season ended, I wondered if I would have the privilege of being in their royal presence again.

Fortunately, as the band struck up the first chords of the season last week, the princesses reappeared. Age had not robbed them of their love of music and costume dancing.

I'm hoping to see them again tonight at Marine Stadium.