Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Changing Lanes: Stuck in the ‘80s? Like totally

July 3, 2007

Charles Van Middlesworth, better known as Mr. Van, posed this question during the annual Tonganoxie Community Band Concert, which was June 26 at VFW Park:

"Are you stuck in the '80s?" Mr. Van asked the roughly 125 people who attended this year's concert before mentioning several pop culture topics from the decade. The dialogue led to the band's final piece, "Eighties Flashback," arranged by Paul Murtha.

Well, Mr. Van, to answer your question, "Uh, duh, like totally, for sure."

I was only 2 when the decade began, but I'm fond of just about everything that was rad and cool during the 1980s.

From "Dukes of Hazzard" (Would it have hurt Jessica Simpson, portraying Daisy Duke, to be true to the TV version and don a brunette wig throughout the 2005 movie version?) to "Transformers" (A live-action movie version is in theaters now -- it feels like Christmas!) I am a staunch fan of most things '80s.

The Tonganoxie Community Band played the '80s tribute arrangement, which included portions of "Thriller," "Time After Time," "You Give Love a Bad Name," and "Eye of the Tiger."

But the concert was more than just a flashback to my youth.

The band opened with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and then played "Cole Porter Classics" and "Broadway Journey: 25 years of Golden Classics." The band also performed Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." During that song, with band member Warren Vincent guest conducting, Van Middlesworth spoke the lyrics to the song and also played a solo with his alto sax.

JoAnn Ferguson, who has participated in the band since its inception in 2002, said Mr. Van, and her fellow band members, were the reasons she keeps coming back.

"It's so fun, it's so fun," Ferguson said. "I mean Mr. Van is hilarious and even though most of us know our musical talent varies and we would like to all sound good at the same time."

As Ferguson said, that's the main objective.

"We always hope that's going to happen at the concert; sometimes it does," she said with a laugh.

Ferguson recalled her daughter having JoAnn's flute, which she had played since the fifth grade, refurbished in the summer of 2002.

The week her instrument was in the shop, she saw fliers announcing the forming of the inaugural community band under Mr. Van's direction.

"Oh thank you this is an awesome thing," Ferguson recalled thinking to herself when she saw the fliers.

Ferguson, who grew up in the small northwest Missouri town of Forrest City, attended South Holt High School.

As the '80s music took me back in time, so did playing in the band for Ferguson.

"It was a great opportunity to play in the band and feel like you were in high school," Ferguson said.

Ferguson lauded Van Middlesworth for his efforts with the community band, as well as the Tonganoxie High School band, which is visible at THS athletics events.

"As much as I love sports, I love going to sporting events to see the band play," Ferguson said.

Before the concert, Van Middlesworth was honored by Veterans of Foreign Wars members for being named VFW Teacher of the Year for Kansas.

Mr. Van definitely has helped put the THS music department on the map. And, he's helped build an annual event with the community band concert.

Ferguson plans to be practicing next June for weekly practices leading up to concert night. She would love to see the band have more practices and, she hopes, perform more often during the year. She realizes that time constraints could have a bearing on those aspirations, but Ferguson sees the potential.

Here's to the community band's performance and, it's hoped, many more to come.

The band definitely rocks.

Like, totally for sure, dude.

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