"Lighthouse Dixieland Jazz Band"
Clockwise form lower left::
Bill Johnston, drummer ; Martin Bliley, keyboard; Jim Lindberg, tuba;
Pete Marshall, trombone; Rod Raker, cornet; Geoff Wands, clarinet
Here are some facts, rumors, and pure fiction (just kidding) about the Lighthouse Dixieland Jazz Band. Nobody seems able to remember when we first started the band -- perhaps 1993. We were originally called the Kilpi Dixieland Band and played mainly for Conneaut Community Center programs at Kilpi Hall. But after numerous failed efforts to explain the Finnish / Dixieland name connection, we renamed ourselves the Lighthouse Dixieland Jazz Band. We aren't any better at explaining the connection of Lighthouse with Dixieland Music but we are playing in many varied places these days.
We have maintained the familiar description (dixieland) in our name but a more accurate terminology (early jazz) is gaining favor amongst bands today. Certainly early jazz was played in many areas in America: St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, New York City to name a few cities -- not just in New Orleans. But whatever you may choose to call the genre, it is and always will be a fun and easy to listen to style of music.
Over twenty talented musicians have played with the band through the years. Rod Raker is the leader of the group and is the only original member still with the band. A cornet and trumpet player, Rod has played in school bands in Springfield, IL and at the University of Illinois. A special fondness for early jazz developed while he was getting his education (B.S., M.S. 1975, University of Illinois) and also while the leader of the U. S. Army's 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment's Dragoon Band in Nurenberg, Germany.
Jim Lindberg, the band's tuba player, also received some of his music training in the U. S. military forces. Following his participation in Ashtabula High School Band, Jim entered the U. S. Naval School of Music for a year and played on a Naval Fleet for two years. During his military music career he even got the opportunity to play for the coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth in 1953. He then studied trombone at the Cleveland Institute of Music and has played with the Ashtabula Symphony and the Ashtabula Symphonic Band.
Our drummer, Bill Johnston, has played drums since the third grade and culminated his scholastic music experience by being the lead drummer in both his junior and senior years with the Conneaut High School Band. When he was not syncopating rhythms with the Lighthouse Dixieland Jazz Band, he completed his Master of Business Administration Degree and now teaches at Kent State University.
The band's trombone specialist is Pete Marshall. Music of all persuasions has been a major part of Pete's life. He has studied music at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Florida State University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the Cleveland Institute of Music while acquiring a BS degree in Music Education and a Masters Degree in Education. Before retiring from teaching and becoming a free lance performing artist, he was a Band Director/ Music Teacher in the Las Vegas school system. Since moving to the Ashtabula area Pete has played with the Frank Montenaro Big Band, the Ashtabula Symphonic Band, the Packard Band, the Ashtabula Area Orchestra, and the Blues Project.
Geoff Wands is usually busy making music with many other music organizations. When not teaching music at the Conservatory of Music at Mercyhurst College and the Ashtabula Arts Center, Geoff plays as a free lance musician for the Lake Erie Ballet, the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the Youngstown Symphony, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the Wheeling, West Virginia Symphony, the Dave Stevens and Doug Dressler Big Bands, and the Ashtabula Symphonic Band. All of this professional playing as a classical and jazz artist followed his earning a B. A. Degree at the University of Central Florida and a M. A. Degree in Music Performance at Illinois State University.
Our keyboard man extraordinaire is Martin Bliley. A freelance classical pianist and piano teacher, Martin also spends time and energy as an accompanist for Mercyhurst College Dance Department, Pennsylvania Governor's School of the Arts and The Erie City Schools Opera. He also enjoys writing and performing various commercials for radio and television.
While the musical pathways and experiences of each of our band members are obviously many and varied, the common interest in playing early jazz keeps The Lighthouse Dixieland Jazz Band looking for opportunities to perform. Anyone interested in contacting the band about a performance should call Rod Raker at 440-593-4156 or E-Mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.