Island's Community Band plays big band tunes at 'USO night'
The Jamestown Community Band (JTCB) will swing into a busy spring and summer season with the big band sounds of the World War II era on "USO Night" at the Portuguese American Citizens' Club. The April 28 event, which begins at 7 p.m., will include selections by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and some marches by John Philip Souza, as well as other traditional pieces will round out the program.
The small ensemble that director Katherine O'Neill took over a year and a half ago has grown to a 25-piece band. "I'd like to expand the JTCB to a full complement of 40 musicians so we can have four trombones and more woodwinds," O'Neill said. "However, we can use musicians in every section. Anyone wanting to join is welcome," she added. She also said that the musicians are enthusiastic, dedicated, and work very hard to play pieces that test their abilities.
"I like to select music that pleases the audience and challenges the musicians as well as the conductor," O'Neill said. "That's what makes it fun. I try to raise the bar a little bit every time we perform. The musicians have been very responsive. I'm proud of them," she added.
O'Neill said that the band practices every Tuesday night at the PAC Club, sometimes without a break. She also mentioned that they just finished a successful Christmas season that included a number of live performances, as well as the recording of their first CD, and added that they plan to record another this year.
"Managing a community band is more than just practicing and selecting good music," O'Neill said. "We operate on a shoestring budget and we always welcome angels. We look to the community for support, which has traditionally been generous to both the band general fund and the annual high school student scholarship fund."
However, the JTCB is sorely in need of a few basic things that every organization needs to help with administrative tasks, like a copy machine and filing cabinets. "If anyone has either or both of those items and is looking to place them in a good home, please let us know and we'll put them to good use," she said.
"We also welcome any contributions of instruments," O'Neill added. We often have players who would like to join the band but are without instruments. So, if any trumpets, flutes, clarinets, or other band instruments are gathering dust in attics out there, give us a ring and we'll do our best to see that they are again used to play good music."
Katherine O'Neill was born in Warwick and graduated from the Indiana University School of Music where she studied jazz with Dave Baker and played French Horn, although her first instrument was the trumpet. "I have four brothers and sisters and everybody in the family played something," she said. One of her brothers is a percussionist in a jazz ensemble in California.
O'Neill is the band director at Toll Gate High School in Warwick, where she has conducted the concert and jazz bands for eight years. She also plays flute and sings in "The Celtic Gathering," a Celtic band. Two years ago, she moved to Jamestown from East Greenwich with her husband and two daughters. Six months later, O'Neill vol- unteered to direct the JTCB.
Anyone wishing to join or book the JTCB, contribute instruments, office equipment or volunteer services should call Bob Saunders, the band president, at 560-0110. Joining the band is free. Anyone interested should bring an instrument, and show up at the PAC Club at 138 Narragansett Ave. on any Tuesday night at 7 p.m. and participate in the rehearsal.
"USO Night" admission is $8 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. All proceeds benefit the PAC Club scholarship fund and the USO.