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The North Bend Eagle

North Bend Area Community Band
The North Bend Communtity band plays at Old Settlers.

Community band draws from all over

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/29/11

In the first two installments of the Eagle’s “Music of the Bend” series, we’ve featured a local country band and a local rock band.

The subject of this week’s feature has no dreams of radio play or selling records, but they have been around more than 20 years longer than the previously featured bands.

The North Bend Area Community Band got its start in 1987 when a North Bend Central alumni band was organized to play at an NBC Band Boosters fund raiser.
Thirty-six musicians took place in that first concert held in the North Bend City Park on July 19, 1987, with Carol Clement directing.

Twenty-four years later, the Community Band is alive and well, with 11 appearances on its 2011 summer schedule. It has become much more than an alumni band as well. With a community bands like North Bend’s being somewhat of a rare commodity, the band draws members from Hooper, Cedar Bluffs, Fremont, Omaha and Lincoln. The current lineup also features current or former high school band directors from Logan View, Bergan, West Point and NBC.

Band president Carol Bohling has been a member from the start. When she joined the band back in 1987, she hadn’t played her baritone since high school.

“I just really enjoy doing it,” Bohling said. “Some people enjoy golfing. Some people enjoy bowling. This is something I really enjoy.”

After a few years of playing in the band and substitute directing, Bruce Bartels is in his third year of directing the band. He was the first band director at Logan View High School, retiring in 2001 after a 34-year career as a Raider. One of the things he enjoys about directing the North Bend Community Band is the lack of discipline problems that can sometimes arise with a high school band.

“I like community bands,” he said. “I like the informality of it and the kind of concerts that we do. There’s a lack of stress and pressure.”

The band practices at NBC. This year the group held five rehearsals before beginning its summer schedule, which includes performances in Wahoo and Fremont as well as the North Bend-Morse Bluff area.

The band reforms in the winter for a Christmas season, which always includes an appearance at the North Bend Chamber of Commerce pancake feed.

The band includes everything from high school students to senior citizens. Luke Dolezal, a sophomore-to-be at NBC, is among the youngest member of the band. He is now in his third year of playing in the Community Band.

“I wanted to do it because it would give me more exposure to music,” Dolezal said. “It’s made me a way better trumpet player and made me understand music way better.”

Joining the band in junior high challenged him to increase his skill level to catch up with the other band members who had been playing their instruments longer than he had been alive.

“In high school band, the songs are usually a little bit easier,” Dolezal said. “In the community band everyone knows their music well. In high school band it’s more of a teaching process.”

The band’s music selection draws heavily from what Bartels calls conert-in-the-park-type music: patriotic songs, polkas, marches and Broadway show tunes. The band does not charge for its appearances, but it does accept donations to help pay for new music and its director. Area schools, including NBC, have also donated music to the group.

For the most part, the North Bend Area Community Band is about having a good time.

“The North Bend band is a lot of fun,” Bartels said. “It’s a great group of people to work with. For what we do, we do it really well.”

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