Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘music’

Rich Simcox: A Life of Musical Adventures

Rich Choir Director

Rich SImcox considers music his vocation and avocation.

I fell into a lot of lucky spots.” That’s how Rich Simcox describes his musical career. “ It’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters most.” But his great musical talent certainly enabled those connections.

Rich Pickin' 001 (2)

The “pickers and grinners” met  in the summer on Uncle Joe’s porch. They entertained the entire neighborhood.

Rich grew up surrounded by music. His mother’s family were “pickers and grinners”, while his father’s family reached out to classical and Dixieland. Rich wanted to emulate his dad.

Dick Simcox, Rich’s dad, directed school music programs in Bucyrus during Rich’s youth. In fourth grade, Rich started playing the trumpet, which remains his favorite instrument.

His dad knew teaching music to be a vocation of long hours and short vacations. He told his two sons and daughter, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t go into music.” They all chose music.

Dick Simcox 001 (2)

His dad, Dick Simcox, gave him musical inspiration.

The Simcox family history shows their deep Cambridge roots. Rich was born there, his dad grew up there. Grandpa Simcox performed vaudeville at the Strand and Liberty theaters. Great-grandpa Simcox had a harness shop by the courthouse. It seemed only natural for Rich to drift back this direction.

He admits to being a gypsy at heart so he has been on many musical adventures. That all started when he became a member of the Air Force Band, one of his favorite musical journeys. Most of the time they worked out of Scott Air Force Base in Missouri. The 45 piece band played for parades, school concerts, community events, and military funerals.

Muskingum College Jazz Group

When attending Muskingum College, he played in many campus bands.

In the 70s, his dad moved to Tri-Valley High School and in his spare time formed “The Dick Simcox Big Band”. Rich at the time was attending Muskingum College so became part of his dad’s band. When his dad passed in 1979, Rich decided he would keep the band performing as long as possible. One thing he wanted to do was always keep his dad’s name as the name of the band.

While his biggest inspiration remained with his dad, he also listened carefully to Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen. Rich said he always hoped to emulate the tunefulness and tone quality of Bobby Hackett, coronet player.

Rich Simcox Jazz Band 001 (2)

The Dick Simcox Big Band provided music around the Tri-State area.

Locally, Rich taught music at several high schools as well as Muskingum College. Many remember him coming to their homes for private lessons. He has led many musical groups in the area over the years, including: Barbershop Chorus, Sweet Adelines, and Land ‘O Lakes Chorus.

His involvement with music in the area extends to many organizations and listing them all would take an entire page. To name a few, he has played trumpet or french horn in Cambridge City Band, Coshocton Lake Park Band, Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Zanesville City Band. He’s directed musicals at Living Word and Cambridge Performing Arts Center.

Rich Dick Simcox Band 001

Here the band plays at the Cambridge Concert Association at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. That’s Rick sitting in the wheel chair.

While directing has been one of his strong points, participating as an actor gave him great pleasure at CPAC. He played lead roles in popular musicals such as “The Music Man”, “Carousel” and “The Flower Drum Song”. His talent in so many varied musical arenas led him to say, “Music is my vocation and avocation.”

This outstanding musician played trumpet on cruise ships and has kept the “Dick Simcox Big Band” alive with performances throughout the area. Rich reflects, “I’ve done more than I ever thought I would.”

Rich in Church Choir

Singing in the church choir has given Rich pleasure for nearly forty years.

Directing the choir at First Christian Church in Cambridge since 1978 still gives him great pleasure. The church music lifts his soul as they make a joyful noise to the Lord. In his spare time, he also enjoys camping and fishing.

Rich Church Choir

He frequently directs the choir with some challenging music.

It’s a tragedy to Rich that schools are doing away with music programs. There’s a big correlation between participation in musical activities and excellence in other areas of study. He feels that the reason this area has so many talented musicians today comes from great music teachers, such as Howdy Max, John Matheny, Max Trier, Diane Box, and Todd Bates.

Rich perhaps gave the best description of his role in music. He’s a musical engineer, who organizes whatever needs done or put together. But admitted he couldn’t do it without networking with all his connections.

According to those who know him well, Rich’s specialty is motivation. “He can get more out of most people than they think they can produce.” Music has been a lifelong adventure for Rich.

Advertisements

The Many Faces of Dr. Jones

Berk at dentist

Dr. Beryl Jones seems perfectly at home beside his dental chair.

Dr. Beryl K. Jones, local dentist, must have been born with music in his soul. His world revolves around music, and entertaining others as a result.

Growing up in a caring family provided real blessings in his life. His parents had a great influence on his life as his dad played trombone and his mom sang to entertain others. Some think perhaps he received his entertainment antics from her example.

Berk and his dad

A young Berky poses with his dad, Dr. B.K. Jones.

Berky, as he is commonly known in the community, made his  first serious attempt at music in 6th grade when he played drums. But during a concert, he only got a chance to play once as there were too many drummers. So he picked up his dad’s trombone and began trying his hand at it. Many don’t realize that Berky only had three trombone lessons in his life and a couple on the cello. Otherwise, he is self-taught.

Berk on pony

His love of animals began when he was a child.

Throughout high school and his years at Ohio State, Berky continued to enjoy his time playing the trombone in the Ohio State Marching Band even more than schoolwork. Since he loves animals and has from time to time had a mountain lion, bear, jaguar, moose, groundhog and more, being a veterinary crossed his mind. But even more, he wanted to come back to Cambridge and practice dentistry with his dad, Dr. B.K. Jones.

Berk at Senior Center

The Chordial Chorus tried a little audience participation at a Dickens Victorian Village brunch.

Today Berky sings in three barbershop quartets: Popular Demand, Four Flats, and Brothers, where Berky’s tenor voice rings out loud and clear. The Chordial Chorus, Cambridge Chapter of the Harmony Barbershop Society,  gets leadership from Dr. Jones. These talented voices entertain at events throughout the year and their harmony is always outstanding.

Berk Cambridge Band

For 175 years the Cambridge City Band has been delighting audiences.

One of his favorite musical groups is the Cambridge City Band, which is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year. Berky has a long history with this band, where he started playing his trombone back in 1977. Then, one day the band was looking for a director and he thought maybe he would apply.

His previous experience at directing came from the church choir, and an unusual late night directing practice. Berk went to sleep listening to a Henry Mancini record, and pretending he was directing that band. By the way, Mr. Lucky was his favorite song.

Berk directs band

As a director, he puts his heart and soul into the music.

Berky was indeed lucky to be chosen as the next band director and has enjoyed entertaining ever since. The band and audience are lucky to have someone directing with his dedication and hard work.

Berk leading the Chicken Dance

Berky dressed as a chicken to lead the Chicken Dance.

Today Berky directs The Cambridge City Band creating concerts that are filled with fun and appreciated by many. His goal is to do whatever necessary to entertain the audience. He learned, “It’s not about you. It’s about them.” Audience participation is frequent, and quite often he surprises the audience with one of his many costumes. He really does have a room full of costumes!

Berk in clown costume at Quaker City

He even convinced other band members to join in the Clown Band.

Let’s not forget that Dr. Jones is also a local dentist with a busy practice in Cambridge, and a second office in Caldwell. His laid-back attitude makes it easy for those in his presence to sit back and relax.Since Walt Disney is one of his heroes, a large figure of Mickey Mouse can be found in his office with smaller Disney characters seen throughout.

While he has been to Disney World several times, one place he would like to visit is Alaska. The trip would be even better on Princess Cruise Lines where Cambridge’s Gordon Hough acts as musical director. Gordon even told Berky to bring along his trombone when he decides to make that voyage.

In the summertime, the Cambridge City Band presents a free concert twice a month at the City Park Pavilion, which is packed with fans and overflows onto the banks outside. To close each concert, Berky says, “Good night, John boy. It’s just me. I’ll be seeing you..and keeeeeep smilin’.”

A Visit with Centenarian Frances Mehaffey

Frances Mehaffey 2010 001

This special recent portrait shows that Frances still has style.

Most of us dream about living a long life. For Frances Mehaffey that dream is reality. At over 101 years young, Frances still enjoys a busy life. This amazing woman has a quick sense of humor and enjoys sharing stories of life as it used to be.

Frances Hartley was born in October, 1914 in Cambridge, Ohio at her parents’ home near Garfield School. Her mother told her the children were singing and playing “London Bridge” on the playground at the time of Frances’ birth. She has been entertaining others with music ever since.

While she never liked dolls, she remembered a swing and a wagon her father bought her when she was a child. The family moved often. When they lived next door to an early oil well in the county, Frances decided she would use a stick to drill her own oil wells in the dirt. She has been busy all of her life.

Peggy and Frances

Peggy and mother Frances enjoy sharing memories over a cup of coffee.

With three children, her parents also stayed busy. Father drove a horse and buggy to deliver mail in the summer time, and rode horseback in the winter. Mother gave piano lessons after studying music at Mt. Union. Frances learned to play piano and organ.

When Frances was ten, the family moved back to Cambridge where several ladies wanted her to cut and set their hair. She walked from house to house after school doing something that came to her naturally…without ever going to beauty college.

Frances High School 001 (3)

An early picture shows Frances about the time of graduation from Cambridge Brown High School.

She graduated from Cambridge Brown High School in 1933. Her current beauty license, which she received in 1934, is the oldest in the state. She was honored by the State of Ohio Board of Cosmetology with a reception and proclamation of “Frances H. Mehaffey Day” on December 10, 2014.

Frances opened her first salon in the back of her father’s wallpaper store, followed by one over the old Strand Theater. She then opened the “Town and Country”, which she operated until a few years ago, and a second salon in Quaker City for several years. That’s over 90 years of making ladies beautiful!

John and Frances Mehaffey eloped to Wellsburg, WV in 1937, but no one knew they were married for several. months. When they moved to the country, their first home had no electricity, a hand pump outside for water, and an outdoor toilet. How life has changed.

While she was too busy to travel often, she remembers one trip to Texas where they stood in line all day long to watch part of the Lee Harvey Oswald trial.

Frances Family Peggy Dr. John%2c Frances and Tom 001 (2)

Her children gathered for a surprise 100th birthday celebration. They include: Peggy Ringer,  Dr. John, mother Frances, and Tom. Frances has 8 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.

While raising their three children and operating her beauty salons, Frances planned and wrote scripts for PTA programs, started the cafeteria at Pike School and helped start the Cassell Station Fire Department. Square dancing, Buggy Wheel Riding Club, and the Organ Club added enjoyment to her busy life.

Later she formed and wrote the theme song for the “Kitchen Kuties”, who performed for many organizations. Over a cup of coffee during this visit, Frances broke into song singing, “We are the Kitchen Kuties…”  Watching TV and reading books are not high on her list even today

SONY DSC

Linda Johnson and Frances visit before a Lions Club Show.

Frances and John helped Bob Jonard get the Lions Club Minstrel started back in 1973. That first year she helped organize the musical performances and write the program. She  headed makeup for the Minstrels for 39 years. Althought Frances stopped singing in the chorus a couple years ago, she still attends the Lions Club Shows and enjoys them thoroughly.

She even attends the Afterglow following the show. This year it was held on the second floor of a local club, but that didn’t stop Frances. She climbed those stairs better than some that are in the chorus today. When asked how she could still climb steps so well, she matter-of-factly remarked, “When I was 93, I had both knees replaced and I’ve been able to climb stairs ever since.”

Frances 100 001

Frances was happy to have knee replacements to help her walk more easily.

You might wonder what her secret is for being a centenarian. Frances will only say that she worked hard all of her life. She never smoked or drank, takes a daily vitamin but only two prescription medications, and attends First Methodist Church in Cambridge each Sunday. Although she no longer drives, Frances renewed her driver’s license on her 100th birthday.

When she was asked about working so hard throughout life, Frances responded with a powerful bit of advice for everyone, “If you don’t, you waste it. You don’t want to waste life.”

Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood

“Don’t You Hear Those Lions Roar?” as you pass the First Baptist Church in Cambridge, Ohio on a Sunday afternoon January through March. The parking lot is not filled with people attending a church event, but those practicing for the 39th Annual Cambridge Lions Club Music & Comedy  Show.

This year’s theme of “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood” offers a wide selection of favorite songs ranging from the slow and mellow to those with vim and vigor.  While the songs are familiar, the arrangements may not be, as they were specially designed for this show by local well known musician and director of the show, Paul Hudson.

Paul has recently retired as Band Director from John Glenn High School and is active down many musical avenues including being percussionist in the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra.  “You Can’t Stop the Beat” when Paul is able to get everyone on the same musical wave. Frequently he tells the chorus members things like : “You have to know the words,” or “Listen to Tom play the melody.” Know he is hoping that after ten weeks of practice, the words will all be memorized and the rhythms will be somewhat correct.

Once the chorus has practiced for a few weeks, Lion Troy Simmons arrives to record the practice session using microphones over each vocal area to pick up the parts clearly. Then he makes a CD for each member so they can practice along with it during the week. So if you see someone singing while driving down the road and tapping out rhythms on their steering wheel, it very likely could be a Lions Club chorus member trying to learn all the words and parts correctly.

A big part of the success of the show also goes to accompanist Tom Apel, who appears in the local area at the piano wherever and whenever needed . Tom attends every practice and patiently plays the parts over and over again. Sometimes it seems he could use four hands! As it gets closer to show time, Tom will be joined by some other local musicians, who are part of the Lions’ Music & Comedy Show Band.

Being associated with the Lions Club, you can be certain that after practice, chorus members will say, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”  Lions Club members seem to have an extra dose of humor in everything they do.  Of course, this show is more than fun as the main purpose of these Knights for Sight is to raise money to help those in the area who need some assistance in paying for eyeglasses and eye care.

Make plans to attend “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood” on March 29, 30, or 31 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in downtown Cambridge, Ohio for an evening of fun entertainment as well as contributing to a great cause. Tickets may be purchased online at www.cambridgelions.com or at Country Bits & Pieces. Tickets are $8 on Thursday evening or $10 on Friday or Saturday. All shows begin at 7:30.

Members will definitely tell you “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as they prepare for the 2012 “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood.”  Let’s go on with the show!

Coming to the show from out of town? From I-70 take Exit 178 at SR 209. Proceed west on 209 /Southgate Road until you arrive downtown at the Courthouse. Make a right hand turn and two traffic lights later you are in front of the Scottish Rite Auditorium at the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street.  It is across from the Cambridge Post Office. Coming from I-77, take Exit 180B, which is US 40 West. After approximately one mile, you will arrive in downtown Cambridge. At the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street, you will find the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Hope to see you there!

Cambridge Concert Association Presents Michael Sonata

One of the best entertainment values for your dollar can be found in Cambridge, Ohio through the Cambridge Concert Association.  For Senior Citizens, it is a real bargain at $25 per year.  This includes four concerts at our home theater, Scottish Rite Auditorium, plus four reciprocating concerts at each of three other locations: Zanesville, Lancaster, and Alliance.  What a deal!

These concerts are varied and appeal to many types of music lovers varying from classical music to vocal and dance.  Usually at least once a year, an old favorite will appear such as recent appearances by the Osmonds and Tony Orlando.

One recent concert was given by Michael Sonata, who does a very life-like presentation of Frank Sinatra, “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”  He played to a full house and the crowd loved him.  Michael is from Canton, OH and graduated from University of Notre Dame as well as earning his masters degree from Kent State University.

Auditioning for a role in a local murder-mystery, The Contraltos,  Michael developed his entertaining  re-creation of Sinatra’s music and unique style of singing. He does such a meticulous job of matching his voice as well as his movements to those of Sinatra that several people said they couldn’t tell the difference, especially if they closed their eyes.

Over the years, he has expanded by including different Sinatra moods: young innocence of The Columbia years, swinging revival of The Capitol years, and confidence of the Chairman during the Reprise years.   He now uses over 90 songs that Sinatra has recorded and constantly adds new ones to his repertoire.

Backed up by a great 12 piece band, there was lots of variety along with some excellent instrumental solos by different sections of the band. Included were such hits as: “Stranger in the Night,” “My Way,” and “Night and Day.”

Cambridge was indeed fortunate to have the “Ol’ Blue Eyes” experience through the presence of Michael Sonata, one of the most sought after Frank Sinatra tribute artists in the country.

Join the Cambridge Concert Association at any of their programs as they are always enjoyable and filled with a variety of musical styles that are sure to satisfy music lovers in the area.  Concerts are sponsored in part by the Ohio Arts Council and Pennsylvania Arts on Tour.

Cambridge City Band Concerts

Music! Music! Music!  That is what you hear if you stop by the Cambridge City Band Concerts at the Cambridge Park on many Thursday evenings.   Old and young alike enjoy listening to the music and visiting with their friends.

Most like to come early to visit and have a hot dog or sloppy joe at the Band Concession Stand.  They also have some great home baked treats to enjoy along with many cold drinks.

Most likely you will see Berk Jones there early getting everything organized for the evening.  Berk has been with the City Band for a long time and is its present director.  He makes the evening fun for everyone with his unique costumes, sense of humor, and sometimes he even sings.

Residents of Cambridge and the surrounding area feel lucky to have such an entertaining evening at no cost.  The band is a combination of high school students and retired adults who just love music.  They practice weekly and come up with some entertaining programs.  These are skilled musicians who just want a chance to perform and make people happy with their music.

After the concert or even at intermission, you will see many enjoying an ice cream cone or sundae from the nearby Parkside Tastee Freeze.  You are never too old for an ice cream cone!

Check out their schedule and join in the fun the next time you get the opportunity.  You’ll be glad you did.  And as Berk would say, “Keep Smilin’.”

Tag Cloud