Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Muskingum College’

The Voice of Enthusiasm at Salt Fork Festival

carol-jones Muskingum UniversityEnthusiasm spreads from Carol Wilcox-Jones to everyone she meets. It’s contagious! Carol is the spark that gets things going, whether at her summer music camps or at the Salt Fork Festival. She does it all with a song in her heart.

   Growing up in Kansas, the Wilcox family sang even while doing housework. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing,” Carol recalls with a sparkle in her eyes. Her dad played guitar at square dances and sang on the radio, while her mom did the Charleston and even clogged. Family always ranked high in importance to Carol.

Carol - Dad 001

At age five, she sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with her dad at a square dance.

   Even though Carol sang with her dad on stage at the age of five, it was in high school that the singing bug really bit her. She sang the leading role of Laurie in Oklahoma, followed by many more leading roles. By the time she was a senior, she was invited to enter the Miss Kansas City pageant, which she won singing “Love Is Where You Find It” and “Clap Your Hands”.

   While studying at the University of Kansas she performed leading roles such as Maria in West Side Story, and Marion in The Music Man. She heard her first opera there when the Metropolitan Opera Touring Company came to perform. Carol smiled, “I fell in love with their thrilling singing.” Shortly thereafter, she had a chance to perform as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, still her favorite Mozart opera.

Carol Captain Jinks

Carol performed as Aurelia in the opera, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines.

   During college summers, Carol apprenticed herself at Central City, Co. and Santa Fe Opera companies. Upon graduation, she decided she would try a career in the opera and where better to do that than The Big Apple. While working toward her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music, she was invited to audition for the Metropolitan Opera. She was offered an artist contract and was soon busy learning new operatic roles.

Carol Barber of Seville

In the comic opera, Barber of Seville, Carol appeared as Rosina.

   Her list of performances is quite extensive and can’t possibly be listed here. In addition to her roles with the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, she has sung leading roles throughout the US and Canada, including the Washington Opera at Kennedy Center, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston Grand Opera, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and many others.

Carol Opera 001

Carol sang in Perichole at the Kansas City Lyric Opera.

   She has performed and enjoyed music theatre roles with St. Louis MUNY Theatre, KC Starlight, Blossom Festival, Caramoor Festival, and others. Carol has appeared on Broadway, sung over 100 recitals, and recorded for RCA and CRI, and has been a featured soloist with many symphonies.

   “It’s not just the beautiful voice, but her overall performance that projects feelings and words,” explained a conductor at the Lyric Opera. “I’ve never known Miss Wilcox to give a bad performance.”

Carol - dalmations

Carol and her family’s dalmatians appeared on the cover of Star in 1975 when she appeared at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City.

   One summer, when Carol was performing at the Lyric Opera Co. in Kansas City, there was also a young man, Robert Jones, under contract. Robert spotted the lovely lady with the beautiful voice and became her biggest fan. A year later, they were married.

Carol and Robert 001

Robert Owen Jones and Carol Wilcox-Jones perform here in  “Die Fledermaus”, an operetta by Johann Strass II.

   Robert was that old-fashioned guy she admired, and family had always been important to her. After their marriage and the birth of their son, Chris, they moved to New Concord where Robert taught music as Director of Vocal Activities at Muskingum College. The couple also happily welcomed their second child, Jennie, to their family.

Carol's Family

Carol, Bob, Jennie and Chris enjoy singing together as The Jones Family.

   Carol was soon invited to join the music faculty at Muskingum as Artist-in-Residence and taught voice, as well as helped develop the Music Theatre minor now offered at Muskingum University. Carol also holds a Master of Arts in Vocal Pedagogy Degree from the Ohio State University and continues to Direct of the Summer High School Music Theatre CAMP, a program she created in 2006. Her reason for being involved is simply: “I support young people and through music, I open as many windows as I can for them.”

Carol Summer Music Camp

The High School Summer Music Theatre CAMP at Muskingum University has been directed by Carol since 2006.

   Carol’s musical background contains many degrees, extensive performing and teaching experience, but it’s her application of all this knowledge that makes Carol such a valuable asset to the groups she works with.

   Robert and Carol had been fans of the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival for years. When Robert retired, he volunteered to schedule the musical portion of the Festival, and it followed that Carol assisted him before she became also involved with fundraising.

   Last year, Carol became Director of the Festival. Even though she didn’t feel experienced, the festival turned out to be wonderful and was indeed a happy place to spend the weekend for both artists and visitors.

Carol-Wilcox-Jones-Chamber Award 2

Carol received the Distinguished Service Award for her role in reviving the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Her role in reviving the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival earned her the Distinguished Public Service Award. Her time and energy devoted to this project have been phenomenal. Connections with various groups and businesses in the community have made it possible to continue financing this popular three-day event.

Carol and Robert BASH

Robert and Carol entertained at the Salt Fork BASH, accompanied by Preservation Dixieland All-Star Band.

   One special event, the Festival BASH, became their signature fundraiser. The support of the community has been outstanding, seen through the participation and success of the BASH, which is an evening filled with visiting friends, delicious food, outstanding music, and many prizes and silent auctions.

   Carol does not take credit for all this herself. She has a very active board of trustees who also head up Festival Committees and work tirelessly to produce the Festival with the help of many volunteers. “I’m very proud of all those who have made it possible. The Festival leaders have kept this Festival going for nearly 50 years! That’s pretty incredible!”

50th Anniversary

Carol works with a great group of volunteers as they prepare for the 50th Anniversary.

   The next big project is working with a 50th Anniversary Blue Ribbon Committee for the 2019 festival. There are plans to begin building an enhanced entranceway to the park at Edgeworth Street that will be a permanent feature and reminder of the festival for future generations.

   Now, she’s looking forward to the 49th Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, August 10-12, 2018. Summing up her Festival feelings, she enthusiastically remarked, “The Festival experience – the creative arts, demonstrations, concerts, and activities- are offered free to the public. It’s an uplifting, community-building celebration with a great combination of quality visual and performing arts and delicious foods offered in the beautiful outdoor setting at Cambridge City Park. What’s not to love?”

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Leonard Thomas – Born to Perform

Len Salt Fork Bash 2

When a piano’s not available, a keyboard will do.

When Leonard Thomas enters a room with a piano, you want to pull out the piano bench and have him tickle the ivories as he bursts into song.

While Len was born in Cambridge in 1927 and now lives there, he has traveled extensively using his musical talents not only at the piano or with his vibrant voice, but also in composing and directing. This man overflows with musical talent.

Len Note from Fred Waring

Fred Waring showed his appreciation to Len in this keepsake note.

He credits his success to the wonderful upbringing he received from his parents and siblings. Their support and encouragement make him feel lucky to have such a special family. He learned the importance of hard work from being a paperboy and soda jerk to conductor and performer.

The first time he sang in public happened at the First Christian Church when he was twenty-four months old. He entertained the crowd downstairs by singing “Bow Wow Blues” to the amazement of all. Len still calls this church home.

Len going places

Even as a youngster, Lenny had plans for going places.

When Lenny was only three years old, he went to visit with the family. A niece was just starting to take piano lessons and he asked her to show him what she was learning. She first  played the notes with her right hand, and Lenny played them back by ear. Next she played the left hand. Again Lenny played them back by ear. He asked her how you put them together and she said she had never done that yet. So Lenny said, “Do it like this.” and played them both.

By the time he was four, his parents thought he should have piano lessons, but they couldn’t afford it. Lenny went to see a lady across the street who gave piano lessons and told her he would like to take lessons but didn’t have any money to pay her.

She asked him if he would mow her yard for fifty cents a week. Lenny asked her how much the lessons would be. “Fifty cents a week.” It worked perfectly.

Len Fred, Ann and Len

Fred Waring and Len’s one-room school teacher, Anna Priaulx, visit with Len after a concert.

Lenny attended Rock Hill School, a one-room school near Center.  This provided a great learning atmosphere for him as he learned from all the classes. Everything fascinated him under the guidance of a very special teacher, Anna Priaulx.

By the age of ten, this young boy could play nearly all the classicals from great composers from memory.  He didn’t however forget the songs that were popular during that era.

Len Trio (2)

At Cambridge High School in 1947, Len played for this trio of  Carol, Barbara and Donna, who he said could harmonize as well as the Andrew Sisters.

At Cambridge High School, his musical talent has never been forgotten. His choice of a band instrument became a sousaphone, but he also sang in many groups as well as served as accompanist. No wonder he was voted the boy most likely to succeed as well as the most talented.

Len Muskingum Sr

Len graduated from Muskingum College and after retirement came back to assist with their music program.

Leonard graduated from Muskingum College with a B.S. in Music Education, but he never intended to use it. He wanted a career in performing so headed to Boston University, where he studied with great success.

But when he got home from Boston, his mother told him there was a letter waiting for him. It was his draft call from the Army. Len got lucky again as he was assigned to a base with a band. Now he could use his sousaphone experience from high school to participate in the Army band.

With this band, he headed to Germany, where they spent their time performing, participating in parades and singing at the chapel and in a barbershop quartet. Why he even had his own apartment and gave piano lessons.

Upon his return home, the hand of God guided him to the minister of the Central Presbyterian Church in Zanesville. There he had his first real job as choral director for five choirs among other assignment.

Along came someone from the court system and suggested that Len become a probation officer since he worked so well with young people. Now he had two jobs, so decided to buy his first car – a black ’57 Sunliner convertible.

Len with Steinbach

He still plays the piano he purchased in New York City in 1964, when he lived in a townhouse on the 19th floor.

Three years later, Len again decided to further his education and headed back to Boston to pursue his doctorate. Since all the schools were closed for the summer, he contacted an Army buddy in New York City and moved there for a while to a Central Park Townhouse.

Enjoying city life, Len began looking for a teaching job in the area.  He found one in Brooklyn at McKinley Jr. High School. Here he directed their choirs and led them in performing outstanding concerts. For eleven and a half years, this was his life.

Len Pennsylvanians

An attractive program design highlights Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.

Well, except for summers!  Those last six summers he attended Fred Waring’s Workshops, where he learned more about performing. One of the students asked Len to play for their audition. It was Len that landed the job to play with the Pennsylvanians with his keyboard talent.

Len Young Pennsylvanians

Teaching young people is something he has always enjoyed. Here he is conductor for the Young Pennsylvanians.

For many years, Leonard performed with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. During the 40s and early 50s, Waring produced a string of hits, selling millions of records. Breezin’ Along with the Breeze was his signature tune. Waring’s often called The Man Who Taught America to Sing. Len Thomas was one of those he helped along the way.

Len and Fred at last performance

Pennsylvanians perform for the final time with Len and Fred Waring, only twelve days before Waring’ passed away.

When Fred Waring died in 1984, Len was asked to work as editor and arranger for Shawnee Press, which was founded by Fred Waring. Shawnee Press has been instrumental in providing quality musical arrangements to high schools, colleges, and orchestras.

Len Shawnee Press Business card

Len’s business card with Shawnee Press carried Waring’s logo at the top.

After working for Shawnee Press for seventeen years, it was sold and moved to another state. At the same time, Len had an offer to purchase his beautiful home in Pennsylvania. His heart and mind said it was time to return home.

Len Distinguished Service Award at Muskingum

Len received the Distinguished Service Award at Muskingum University.

When he returned, Muskingum College requested that he direct their concert choir. Frequently, he gave piano lessons, where he explained to students that playing the piano isn’t just done with the fingers, but with the wrists, arms and elbows. Your entire body feels the music.

Len at Salt Fork Festival Chorus

He still loves to perform and assists with many community musical events, such as the Salt Fork Festival Chorus.

The community feels lucky to have him return to the Cambridge area. Now he plays in the Muskingum Jazz Group, for numerous groups including the Cambridge Singers, and provides background music for many banquets, parties, funerals and weddings.  Let’s face it, Len loves to perform.

Preservation Dixieland All Stars

Preservation Dixieland All Stars will be performing at the Salt Fork Festival BASH. Members include: Jerry Weaver, Len Thomas, Don Kason, and Dave Jacobs.

Today at the age of 86, he has no problem remembering all those songs from years gone by. No matter what song is requested, Len’s fingers respond perfect. “The Lord’s been good to me,” smiled Len, as he’s fulfilled all his dreams.

His twilight years have been both enjoyable and fulfilling. Now it the time when he can give back to the community where he grew up. “When you spend time helping others, you find the happiness you seek.”

 

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.

Cambridge Ohio Union Depot – Then and Now

Early Cambridge Union Staton - 1907

Early Cambridge Union Staton – 1907

Long ago the railroad station at Cambridge, Ohio was a hub of activity. Originally, the Baltimore & Ohio Depot was located on the first floor of the Depot Hotel at 444 Wheeling Avenue. However, the most recent railroad station, Cambridge Union Station, was built by the B & O and Pennsylvania Railroads in 1907. According to local train historian, Dave Adair, this special railroad station had an identical twin built by B&O Railroad at Washington, Indiana. Today Cambridge Union Station remains along the tracks, but stops are no longer made there…only memories remain.

Deliveries of mail and goods were made at the train depot around the clock for fifty-four years. Mail was placed in a mail cart, then pulled by mule up the hill to the post office, which was then located where Pavlov’s Music is today. Orders placed at Sears or Montgomery Ward were usually delivered the next day, and often residents would eagerly wait by the tracks for their arrival. For those who could not meet the train, delivery services, like those run by Billy Singer, met the train daily for home deliveries.

Imagine the thrill of a memorable school field trip on the train. Such was the case with first grade students from Glass Plant School, who enjoyed riding the rails to New Concord. There they visited the home of their teacher, Miss Daniels, enjoying milk and cookies along with a view of her flower garden. Before the return trip to school, a walking tour of Muskingum College campus impressed the youngsters.

Memorial Plaque at Cambridge Union Depot

Memorial Plaque at Cambridge Union Depot

My family would drive to town in their pick-up truck to get cardboard cartons of baby chicks that arrived on the train. Mom always went along to stop at Thompson Feed Mill for feed for the chickens. She wanted to be sure to get feed sacks that would match the ones she was using to make some kitchen curtains or pillowcases.

Those were the days when people used the train instead of an automobile for trips to far off Zanesville and even Columbus. A friend recalled  the thrill of riding the rails to Zanesville to visit her eye doctor. Another remembered trips to Lazarus in Columbus via the train as a family adventure.

Dad often talked of hopping on the train to Chicago. Back in 1958, the cost of a one way ticket was $19.85, which included an overnight Pullman car. Have to wonder if in his younger days, Dad rode in the Pullman or perhaps in a boxcar?

While the tracks are still active today, no stops are made at the lonesome depot. Outside the depot stands a memorial placed there in 1926 by the Daughters of the American Revolution to remind visitors of the beginnings of Cambridge. In the earliest times, crossing of Wills Creek was made by ferry, the first real business in Cambridge. Nearby, Ezra Graham established Ferry Cabin, the first house built in Cambridge back in 1798.

Double Covered Bridge over Wills Creek

Postcard view of Double Covered Bridge over Wills Creek

Crossing Wills Creek near the station, was the original Double Covered Bridge that carried people and animals down the Old National Trail from 1828-1913. That early bridge was somewhat dangerous to cross as the timbers often were displaced by floods, causing the bridge to frequently lean. Cost to cross the bridge was twelve cents. Soon nearby, a tavern and hotel were built and Cambridge got its beginnings.

Cambridge Union Station - 2014

Cambridge Union Station – 2014

Union Station is still a great place to visit and feel the old memories that live there. Once in a while a train passes by so you might get a friendly wave from the engineer. As you stroll around the depot, notice the viaduct where that double covered bridge used to cross. Let your eyes wander to Wills Creek and imagine a steamboat going down those waters. Life then was certainly different than what we experience now.

Cambridge Union Station is located in Cambridge, Ohio just off Route 40, the Old National Road. It sets on the west side of the present viaduct near the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 4th Street. Since it is right along the railroad tracks, you can’t miss it!

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