Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fabulous Studio Band - Seattle, WA - June 2009

Fabulous Studio Band plays for appreciative Seattle audience
June 15, 2009 9:44 PM

By ESTHER AVILA
FOR THE PORTERVILLE RECORDER
(Photos by Esther Avila)
SEATTLE — Porterville’s Fabulous Studio Band continued to entertain young and old alike Monday afternoon when they performed at the Seattle Center in Seattle during the seventh day of their three-state Pacific Northwest tour.
The band, under the direction of Jim Kusserow, left Porterville June 9.
“This band has performed all over the place. They’ve performed in just about every U.S. Air Force base you can think of, before the U.S. Senate, the White House and Hawaii,” Kusserow said to the crowd gathered at the food court of the Seattle Center House. “We travel a lot, always at no cost to the students.”
The audience responded favorably by cheering, whistling and clapping heartily as the band opened with “I Remember Basie” and continued with “Hello Dolly,” “Georgia on my Mind” — featuring Clark Keele on tenor sax — and “It’s Almost like being in Love,” a number which featured George Andrade on trombone and Kusserow on trumpet.
Ernie and Kathy Lassman of Seattle said they could not resist getting up to dance as the band played “Moonlight Serenade.”
“We have heard a lot of big-band music and we must say, this band is great,” Ernie Lassman said. “They are top notch. We have enjoyed listening to them.”
But big-band music was not all the band played. They also treated the audience to a few contemporary numbers from Chicago; K.C. and the Sunshine Band; and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Sitting in the audience was the McMaster family from Porterville.
“Today is my birthday,” Dawn McMaster said. “What a great way to spend my birthday. We flew into Seattle yesterday and met up with the band in Port Angeles.”
The tour is the family’s last opportunity to see her two sons, Kyle and Kory McMaster, perform with the band, she said. The boys, recent graduates of Porterville High and Porterville College, are heading to Azusa Pacific University in the fall.
Also in the audience was a young woman with two children. The three tapped their feet and danced in their seats as the band played.
“I’m their nanny,” said Shanda Gimbel of Seattle. “We were having lunch here and the music started and the children started dancing like crazy. This was great. I loved it. Big band is still a timeless sound and it is evident that it appeals to all ages. We all loved it.”
The Fabulous Studio Band continues its tour with a performance in Everett, Wash.
All photos by Esther Avila

Fabulous Studio Band - Everett, WA - June 2009

Fabulous Studio Band continues Pacific NW trip
Tour: Oregon, Washington residents treated to band sound.
June 18, 2009 10:05 AM

By ESTHER AVILA
FOR THE PORTERVILLE RECORDER

(photos by Esther Avila)

EVERETT, Wash. — Members of the Fabulous Studio Band are on their way home from their three-state, 2,869-mile Pacific Northwest tour. They are scheduled to return Friday evening.
The band left Porterville on June 9, and has played in numerous venues in Oregon and Washington.
Tuesday evening they kicked off a summer concert series for the city of Everett, Wash.
With the harbor as their backdrop, the band entertained a large crowd with their big-band and contemporary numbers.
“I was walking by and saw them setting up and I just had to stop,” said Larry Wold of Everett. “I enjoy the big band sound. This group sounds pretty good.”
Estelle and Charles Spaulding of Mill Creek, Ore., said they attended because they heard that big-band music was on the schedule.
“It is our first time here. We enjoy concerts like these — and being out here in front of the waterfront — you can’t beat that.”
It was a sentiment expressed by several in attendance. While some dined or enjoyed a drink from restaurant patios, others brought lawn chairs and blankets and sat on the lawn.
Jordan Donato, 2, could not sit still. The toddler hit the dance floor every time the band played.
“She has always liked to dance. I don’t think she can resist it,” said her mother, 23-year-old Alexandra Donato. “We come often — whenever my mom invites me. I’m enjoying this. It is different from what I usually listen to, but it’s lovely.”
As the band continued to play big-band hits, couples danced. Judging by the hearty applause, they loved it.
“We play all over the country,” said band leader Jim Kusserow. “And next June, some of these kids will be playing at Carnegie Hall when we take the band to New York.”
George Sandia, 62, of Everett, applauded and cheered as the band played “New York, New York.”
“They play so well,” Sandia said. “I can see them playing at big cities. But I’m glad they came here — and are playing for us.”
After its Everett performance, the band performed Wednesday evening in Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island.
“What we are trying to do, besides keeping the big band sound alive and let people across America know that there are still bands out there performing this music, is recreate what it was like for a traveling big band — letting the kids know what is like to be in a performing big band, whether just traveling up and down the state or across the country,” Kusserow said. “Some of these kids might have aspirations to perform. This gives them a little cross section of all it takes. They learn to work together. Everyone has a job and everything gets done.”
Pianist Jerika Hayes and Suzy Napieralski, who plays clarinet and saxophone, agreed. It was the first band tour for both.
“Setting up has been easy,” Hayes, a junior at Porterville High School, said. “It has been a real unique experience. I wouldn’t say it has been hectic though. Everything has worked out perfect — like a well-oiled machine. We have always had enough time for our performances.”
It was not all work, however. The band’s members had plenty of time for sightseeing.
Band members sand boarded at the sand dunes in Florence, Ore., toured a music and sci-fi museum, visited a rainforest in Olympic National Park, and toured through Forks, Ore. — home to the popular “Twilight” books.
“I was able to tour a lot with [former band director, the late] Buck Shaffer and I am merely trying to pass on the great experience I had,” Kusserow said. “It has been a great reward for me to do so. It has been a great trip.”

Music in Porterville - Fabulous Studio Band and Sierra Vocal Arts - June 2009

Music in Porterville

By Esther Avila
Southern Sierra Messenger

There is no doubt about it – Porterville is a musical town, not only during the school year but year round. The music is everywhere – with elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as community groups, local bands and individuals performing with choirs, orchestras and bands.

One does not have to look far to find it, either. It is as close as the center of town.
“Music on Main Street” – sponsored by the City of Porterville and the Porterville Chamber of Commerce – continues at 6:30 tonight with Duggin’s Citrus Express taking center stage at Centennial Park. The concerts, which run every Friday night through the end of June, are free and open to the public. Centennial Park is located directly in front of City Hall on Main Street.
I also find it heart-warming that local musicians, such as the Fabulous Studio Band and the Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble, are currently on tour – sharing their music with the world.
(photo by Esther Avila)
The Fabulous Studio Band, under the direction of Jim Kusserow, left Porterville Tuesday morning. The band is performing in Portland, Oregon tonight and Saturday night before continuing towards Seattle, and Whidbey Island in Washington. They will log more than 2,800 miles as they perform at numerous venues during their 10-day North West Pacific tour.
A small group gathered to see the musicians off. Among them was Dawn McMaster, mother of Kyle and Kory McMaster, recent graduates of Porterville College and Porterville High School.
“This is the last time they will be playing with the band,” McMaster said. “It has been an amazing experience for them. They have grown so much, in music, and as young men. They won’t be here next year. This is it. Both are attending Azusa Pacific next year. Both are majoring in music.”


The Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble is also on tour. The community choir, celebrating their 20th season, left Thursday and will be visiting and performing in some of the most beautiful and historic cathedrals and churches of the world – London, Salisbury, Stratford-upon-Avon and Cambridge. They will also participate in a workshop with English composer John Rutter.
“There will be something for everyone. There is so much history within the area where we will be traveling that one can’t see it all,” said Fred Knutson, the ensemble’s founding conductor. “I do know that for many of our singers, having the opportunity to have a choral workshop led by internationally renowned composer John Rutter, will be the highlight.”
This is the ensemble’s first extended tour, said Sara Guinn of Hanson Travel Ideas of Porterville. Other than performances in Modesto, the choir has performed only in the Porterville area.
Guinn has arranged for the ensemble to visit many historically important sites, including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, William Shakespeare’s birthplace, Winston Churchill’s burial site, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and numerous museums and historic churches.
“We will be performing in some of the most beautiful and historic venues in the world. Salisbury Cathedral was built within a period of 38 years beginning in 1220,” Knutson said. “Imagine something built in the 1200’s that is as beautiful and functional today as when it was built. So much of the music we perform was composed for beautiful buildings much like that cathedral, it brings a singer so close to the original performance sound, which we rarely get to experience in our modern church buildings. Probably the most exciting part will be experiencing so much that’s new with the great friends I have in the Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble. They are a dynamic group of people and I know that it will be fun to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ with them.”

Yes - I am still writing.

I started writing for Exeter Sun Gazette and for Southern Sierra Messenger - and I did freelance a couple of band stories for the Porterville Recorder.

Southern Sierra Messenger has been wonderful. I actually got my own column with them and my editor (not me) named my column "Esther Avila's Porterville."

My column has my memories about a Porterville moment and comments about a current situation, festival, or person from Porterville.

I've talked about meeting Buck Shaffer when I was 4-years old, the old kiddie wading pool at Murry Park, first day of school jitters, the fire pits at Taco Bell, ...... and other such memories.

I love having my own column.

I've also been writing all of the copy for a special publication for an upcoming apple festival. I've written a dozen stories and will spend most of the week as a photographer.

I love my job.