The Morro Bay White Caps, a community band, will play the Sept. 11 celebration of the city’s founding 150 years ago.
It was mid-morning Saturday, August 21. Time to walk our dog, CJ. Like many neighborhood locals we headed for the pathway at Franklin Riley Park, overlooking Morro Bay’s Tidelands Park, soon to be officially dedicated to honor Morro Bay’s founder. At a recent Celebration of Life for Councilman Robert “Red” Davis, his fellow Council members honored him, wife Gail, and his family by completing the park signage, one of the few unfinished to-do-list-projects by this dedicated servant of the people.
I knew the emergency sirens were to be tested that afternoon, but imagine my surprise when I heard morning music — beautiful concert band sounds from Phantom of the Opera. I thought picnickers at Tidelands had a CD player with mega-speakers blasting the musical perfection. Then I spied the band. There was an actual live-band set-up concert style entertaining a small audience. Could it be the Morro Bay White Caps were playing again, I wondered? We then met another walker who confirmed Morro Bay’s official community band was, indeed, practicing as they had done Saturdays all summer at other Morro Bay locations.
Where was I? My apologies for not knowing they have been playing all summer. Something is right with the world when the Morro Bay White Caps are back playing for our community! I had to let EBN readers know where they would perform next. Board President Pat Poremba returned my request for information instantly. We are, indeed, so lucky to have a professionally practiced community band.
Don’t miss their next concert at Morro Bay’s 150th birthday bash on Saturday, September 11 from 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. at the Community Center with a possible encore at 4 p.m. after the conclusion of the party. All are welcome for the outdoor event that will also unveil a painting of Morro Bay’s cityscape by famed artist and puzzle-maker, Eric Dowdle, courtesy of Morro Bay Beautiful. Puzzles will be on sale and with a $1 donation celebrants receive cake and ice cream!
President Poremba also mentioned they hoped the city’s Halloween event happens. “We always love to play for Morro Bay events.” They are working on dates to perform some September and October Saturdays at the community market.
Due to COVID-19, the band endured 15-months without musical practices or performances. Members finally felt safe enough to play again in June of this year “At that point the local cases were very low and many of our musicians were able to get vaccinated,” Poremba said. “We make sure to follow all local, state, and federal guidelines for all rehearsals. Practices are outdoors and with social distancing. We encourage all members to stay home if they are uncomfortable or not feeling well. We use masks for our instruments when possible to further reduce any risk of spread.”
The MB White Caps currently have 20 regular members with others joining as they can.
“New members are always welcome no matter the skill level, age or instrument they play.” Paremba said. “Even though we normally play concert band arrangements, we have a regular violinist. Our members range from very experienced professional musicians and music teachers, to folks like me who picked up a horn decades after playing in middle or high school. I started on sax two years ago after a 35-year break and I’m having the time of my life.”
There are no auditions. Their policy was “just show up – we’ll find you a place,” however, in this current pandemic environment, Board VP and Music Librarian Pat Burbank advised it is now better to contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org so they can bring the appropriate sheet music and for everyone’s safety-sake bring your personal music stand.
Their current bandleader is Phil Ledesma. He drives six hours up and back from Bishop for each practice and performance. Their current board members are President Paremba who plays sax; VP Burbank on flute; Treasurer and percussionist Bill Swanson; Sheri Aust, secretary on flute; Kathy Chapman, property manager on French horn; Kathy Jorgens, webmaster and clarinetist; and Carol Johnson is also alternate conductor.
According to their website www.mbwhitecaps.com, the Morro Bay White Caps Community Band was created as a way for volunteer musicians from SLO County to gather and play music together. The band provides concerts primarily in the Morro Bay area for non-political public events and fundraisers supporting worthy causes. “We continue an appreciation for, and the preservation of, the community concert band tradition in American music.
Typically their season runs Saturdays during the summertime lately at the Embarcadero Chess Board. Started in 1980 by Edgar “Ed” Smith, the group gained popularity showing up on street corners playing for whoever would enjoy their music. Today they have more structure and are an officially registered non-profit. The groups continues to thrive and perform by donations coming from generous attendees at their concerts and events.