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DL Community Band membership is fired up and growing

They may not have 76 trombones, but since the Lakes Area Community Concert Band first formed in 2006, the group has been steadily growing in numbers.

"I think we're up to about 40 members now," says Rick Olson, who has served as the band's manager since its inception.

In fact, whole families have begun taking part in the group's Thursday night rehearsals, according to Olson.

"We have the Moen family, with two brothers and two sisters who are in the band," he says.

Brothers Dan and Bill Moen play percussion, while their sisters, Joyce Goetz and Diana Danielson, play flute and trombone, respectively. Dan Moen's wife, Rhonda, plays in the percussion section with him, while Bill's wife Kendra -- a local music teacher -- plays bass clarinet.

"She (Kendra) can play anything," Olson says.

Then there's the father-son pair of Don and Greg Johnson, who play clarinet and trumpet, respectively. Husband and wife, Paul and Joyce Ramsay, play tuba and clarinet for the band as well, Olson says.

So what do all these family connections add up to? Lots of beautiful music, according to the band's director, Gene Gaffney.

"This is just a great group," he says enthusiastically. "They're all very talented, and they love music."

In fact, Gaffney says, they love it so much that they don't want to stop playing when the clock strikes 10 p.m.

"They just don't quit -- they keep rehearsing until they wear me out," he jokes.

And this winter's frequently frightful weather hasn't stopped them either. When Gaffney was about to call off last Thursday's rehearsal due to a late-season snowstorm, he noticed that some of the first people to show up were from Park Rapids and Wolf Lake.

"So we couldn't call it off then," he says, eliciting a laugh from the group.

Gaffney, who was a music teacher in the community for many years, says one of the joys of directing this group has been the opportunity to work with so many of his former students.

"I've got one of the best volunteer jobs in the state of Minnesota," he says.

To celebrate the end of their second season together, the band is planning a spring concert this Sunday, April 20, at 4 p.m. There will be no admission charge, though a free will offering will be taken.

The concert, which takes place inside Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre, will include selections from John Philip Sousa, Johann Strauss II, and tributes to composers Aaron Copland and Stephen Foster.

Gaffney says one of the group's most challenging numbers has been "La Fiesta Mexicana" by H. Owen Reed.

But challenging music has not been a deterrent for this crowd, he adds.

"Every program we do, we'll find some music and say, 'Can we do this?'" Gaffney says.

The answer, he adds, is invariably yes. No matter how difficult the piece is, "they're willing to work at it until they get it right."

"They just don't back away from anything," he said earlier this month. "Just look around tonight -- they came from Park Rapids, Hawley, Wolf Lake, and they're here practicing in a storm."

(Vicki Gerdes can be reached by e-mail at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454