Your 2019 Marching Show is...
The story of the Mars Rover
Inspired by this Story (definitely listen to this):
This passed week the Eastland Band Program presented music week in Eastland. Centered around Eastland Alumni Collen Gray "Tex" Satterwhite and his music, the band presented programs featuring the history of music in Eastland.
A special guest came to Eastland for the celebration. Lindsay Kaufman, Satterwhite's daughter flew in from Los Angeles. Lindsay has visited Eastland a few times, the first being a visit as a small child in the 1950's to meet her grandparents Lina Gray and E.C. Satterwhite
The week's events started with a showing of "The Benny Goodman Story" movie at the Majestic last Tuesday. Satterwhite appears in several scenes of this movie.
On Tuesday the Eastland HS Wind Symphony, one of the two concert bands at Eastland High School, performed a concert at the 1st United Methodist Church. This included performances of Easter Monday on the White House Lawn, A Childhood Hymn, A Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss, and Vesuvius.
Two band students presented vocal performances of Satterwhite's music, Catherine Hernandez singing the Patsy Cline hit Through the Eyes of a Child and Trenton West presenting a song from Satterwhite's personal collection entitled A Child at Prayer. Tex Satterwhite passed away in 1978 and it is believed that this song was never publicly performed until this concert.
On Thursday a combination of students from the Eastland Jazz band and Eastland Pops formed a group nicknamed the Satterwhite Symphony. They performed the Eastland Musical Legacy concert with song dedications to Phil Hewitt, Marsha Vermillion, and G.W. Collum. Verna Johnson and Leon Hale were recognized as distinguished faculty and distinguished alumni respectively.
Friday saw a swing dance at the Connellee Roof Top Garden with live music provided by the Key City Jazz Quintet. Satterwhite, Leon Hale, and their friends used to hold dances in this same location in the 1930's after forming a dance band of local high school/community musicians.
Despite the weather, the Eastland Jazz Festival finished off the week on Saturday in the downtown square with jazz bands performing throughout the day at the Lyric Theatre and the old Texas Band building on the square. Groups included the Eastland Jazz Band, Eastland Pops, Tarleton Jazz Band, Stephenville HS, Jim Ned HS, Wylie HS, Abilene HS, and Howard Payne University.
Here you will find the dedications for the Eastland Musical Legacy Concert that was held at the Eastland Majestic Theatre 4/11/2019
Collen Gray Satterwhite
Basin Street Blues- Phil Hewitt
This performance is dedicated to Phil Hewitt. He directed the Eastland Band in the 1960's and again in the 1980's. He lead the program to their first known sweepstakes in 1989 and started the jazz band program. This song is one of his favorites that his students remember playing many times.
Prof. Collum - Hail Alma Mater
G.W. Collum was the band director in Eastland, TX from 1935-1937. The band in Eastland was strong and Prof. Collum would be remembered in Eastland for many years after he left. He introduced the Eastland School song in 1936. Read more about him in the Band Director Hall of Fame.
Verna Johnson/ MArsha Vermillion
Verna Johnson taught for many, many, years in Eastland, TX. She was known as Teach Johnson to her students. Many times has she been honored in Eastland. Tonight we tie her to her successor Marsha Vermillion who is in attendance tonight. Marsha was a student of Verna Johnson and eventually took the same post at Eastland, leaving her own legacy.
She originally came into our view in photos of her visit with Collen Gray Satterwhite in 1976.
Leon is a band alumni and a long time columnist in Houston, TX. We have recently posted Leon's memories and biography here.
Tonight we have with us Lindsay Kaufman, daughter of Tex Satterwhite, picture visiting her grandparents home of Seaman St. as a child and again this week:
In 1960's Ina traveled to LA, California to be on the TV show "About Faces." While there she met Satterwhite and shared her experiences with us.
Due to an unfortunate leak in keeping the secret of the 2019 Marching Show Theme (thanks a lot Mr. Bramlett), we've decided to announce it early.
The Sound of Silence
Featuring the Music of Simon and Garfunkel, John Cage's 4'33", and Soothing Nature Sounds
A Marching Show entirely based around the concept of not actually playing our instruments! This will completely blow the minds of audiences everywhere.
"About a year and a Half Ago, we were sitting around doing nothing, and I thought to myself, This could be a great theme for a marching show" - Mr. Cox
Today we are going back to the 1930's with memories from Eastland Band Alumni and longtime newspaper columnist Leon Hale. Leon was kind enough to share his memories of the Eastland Band and he did so with the flare of someone who has spent a lifetime crafting sentences. You can read quite a bit about Leon and his amazing career here.
You may remember this photo of the band from 1937 that I shared with you a few weeks ago. Leon is in that photo:
Hello Stephen Cox:
I was pleased to receive your phone call, and to hear that you are gathering information for a history of the Eastland High School Band. And I’m more than somewhat surprised to learn that, so far, your research is showing that at 97, I am probably the oldest living former member of that organization.
What follows is in response to your suggestion that I contribute a brief chapter for your history, about my experience in the band and the dance orchestra that spun off it. That’ll be a stretch for me, since we’re talking about the last few years of the 1930’s. But I’ll give it a go.
Please accept that I can’t guarantee all the information I’ll be giving you is 100-per cent accurate. Because I’ll be drawing it out of nothing but my personal memory of events and situations from more than 80 years ago.
My band experience began on a late summer afternoon in what I believe was 1935, when I was 15. My mother collared me and said Professor G.W. Collum, the high school’s band director, was recruiting students for membership, and she wanted me to volunteer.
One of that woman’s several goals was to have a totally musical family. She could play the piano and so could both my older sisters. Even my father, a traveling salesman, sometimes drove down the road blowing country tunes on his harmonica.
Not me. The only thing I played was vacant-lot baseball. I didn’t know middle C from second base, and I wasn’t interested in learning. But when my mother got an idea it was slow about going away, so I climbed the high school hill and met Professor Collum.
I told Prof (we always called him Prof) that my mother sent me, to see if I could join his band. He said maybe so, but he’d need to test me. He played a simple tune on the piano and I sat there while he watched me. I didn’t know whether he expected me to sing, dance or yodel. I learned later he was watching my foot, to see if it patted in time to the music.
Apparently it did because he asked if I owned a musical instrument. I said no. He said don’t worry, he had one I could borrow. He gave it to me and said come back Monday for my first lesson.
The instrument he handed me was an old alto horn, the kind that tries to look like a French horn. A peck horn, as other band members called it.
In the sheet music we used, the parts written for alto horns were pretty simple. So I had no trouble learning to play the horn. But playing it wasn’t what you’d call exciting.
On most pieces the person on the alto sits there and goes um-pah, um-pah, um-pah. Sometimes, when the music changes, instead of um-pah he goes um-pah-pah. (That’s an outrageous simplification but never mind, let it go.)
I made um-pahs in Prof Collum’s band for at least a year and maybe longer. The reason I stayed with it, I discovered I liked being in the band. I found it a good place to make friends. I can say now that I met in that little band some of the best friends I’ve ever had. These are people who have been important to me in many ways, and I’ve kept up with them all my life.
Until I met Prof Collum I hadn’t done anything much more meaningful than milk a couple of cows and mow a few lawns. But after you dressed me in the sharp uniform of an organization that represented my school, my self esteem began climbing. We didn’t talk about it but I know many of my fellow band members felt this same way.
I suppose some Eastland citizens assumed that all the band ever did was play at football games and march during half time.
But in or out of competition we always had the tallest drum major, Thomas Dabney, who was bigger than the biggest player on the basketball team. In uniform he wore a sort of stovepipe headdress that made him look another foot taller.
There was the myth, circulating among our male members, that the main reason to join the band instead of playing football was that half the band’s members were girls. Like all such stories, that one might be partly true and it might not.
Most of those girl-names left me long ago. But I do remember Julia Parker and Margaret Gibson because they were in my class and I saw them daily at school. Also in my class was Betty Jean Somebody, whose last name may return to me eventually. She played the flute. First flute I ever saw. Prof Collum had two daughters, Evelyn and Kathleen, both experienced band members. Evelyn helped me learn to read music.
One day Prof Collum called me to his office, which was then in the basement underneath the stage of the auditorium. Said he had something to show me. It was an old but operational trumpet, in a nice black case. It was for sale. For $30.
Our country was then in the depths of the Great Depression. I paid off the trumpet -- a dollar here and a dollar there -- by selling fresh milk to neighbors at 10 cents a quart. (We lived just five blocks from the courthouse but we kept a couple of milk cows in the back yard. The cows were my father’s idea. He said they helped him remember where he came from. But it was me who did the milking.)
The first notes I coaxed out of the old trumpet were so bad, so fuzzy, you’d never have recognized that they were from a song long familiar to you. “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty . . . “
Those notes were special to me. I played them over and over. Hey, listen to this. No more um-pah, um-pah. This is a tune, a melody. It’s music, or anyway close to it.
I gave the borrowed alto back to Prof, and he moved me to the trumpet section. After that day I was a different person. I no longer dreamed of becoming a famous baseball player. I decided instead to become a famous trumpet player
The closest I came to that goal? I was at least recognized in Eastland High as one of several trumpet players in the band. We were not great, but we were plenty loud.
At this time, as far as I know, the only student in Prof Collum’s band to become a professional musician was sitting back in the trombone section.
His name –- Collen Satterwhite, a senior when I was a sophomore.
The history of Eastland’s band will surely include a chapter on Satterwhite’s career so I’ll not try to deal with that. He became a trombonist in Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra, and eventually a composer and arranger for many of the big names in the world of music.
The reason I mention him here, Satterwhite did something, even before he got out of high school, that led me personally into the happiest times of my growing-up years: He started a little dance band. And invited me with my old second-hand trumpet to sit in.
A casual reader might expect that in the 1930’s, the popular music among young people in a small West Texas town would be hillbilly, or what we now call country. I’m sure we had our pickers and grinners in Eastland County but I wasn’t aware of them, and I don’t recall my fellow high school students showing any interest in country music.
No, we were running from country. Late at night we listened to Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller on the radio. We had dances in the high school gym, and the records on the juke box (which we called a Nickelodeon)would be by Woody Herman, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James. Big Band music. On the dance floor, students were learning to jitterbug.
Let’s see if I can recall the original members of Satterwhite’s dance band.
Sitting out front were Jack Brown on tenor sax, and James (Buzz) Metcalf, doubling on alto sax and clarinet. Satterwhite sat in the middle with his trombone and two trumpet players –- Jim Galloway and me. Galloway was the nearest we had to a star trumpeter, who could stand up and “take off” -- perform what we called ad lib solos. But this band didn’t lack solo talent. About ninety-five per cent of it came out of Satterwhite’s trombone.
On the back was the rhythm section, made up almost entirely of James Dabney and half a truck load of his drum equipment. This group obviously needed a bass fiddle but Satterwhite couldn’t find one. So he borrowed a bass horn from the high school band, which had two.
E.J. Pryor joined us to play that big horn, and carry it. The same as the others I’ve already named, he came out of Prof Collum’s band.
Sometimes, when he needed a fuller sound, Satterwhite would bring in Leo Wolf and his trumpet. And I remember a night when Buzz Daniels played guitar with us. He never looked at the music. When we changed keys Satterwhite would shout it out, let Buzz know what key we were in.
I almost said Buzz was the only person who ever played with this group who wasn’t also a member of the high school band. No, now and then we’d have a gig when Satterwhite was out of town, probably playing with a real band somewhere. So we’d call in a trombone player from Breckinridge, I believe. Jerry Somebody. I’ll never remember his last name.
Then we had Wesley Hancock who volunteered to be our crooner. Wesley worked at Burr’s Department Store so he had good clothes. He’d dress up and come to rehearsals and wait for a chance to sing. If he ever sang a note with the band I didn’t hear him but he always looked nice.
We were seldom hired to play for an event so we created our own gigs. My favorite place to play was the Connellee Hotel Roof Garden.
The hotel let us use the roof garden for $25, to be paid out of proceeds. We’d make cardboard placards and put them up around town, advertising a Saturday night dance on Connellee Roof Garden, admission $2, couples or stag.
Our music? We played a mixture of standard arrangements. Songs like Stompin’ at the Savoy, Dipsy Doodle, Darktown Strutter’s Ball, Roll ‘em, Honeysuckle Rose, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Deep Purple, September in the Rain. We’d draw pretty good crowds, sometimes.
Satterwhite’s disappearances kept getting more frequent until one day he left and didn’t come back. (Prof Collum left, too, and moved to Stephenville.) Jack Brown, our tenor sax man, stepped up and took over leadership of the dance band.
Without Satterwhite’s trombone we were pretty thin but just as enthusiastic as ever, and maybe louder. We experimented with various venues. We tried playing dances held in private homes, but this generated complaints from neighbors who weren’t entertained by the lively beat of Dipsy Doodle after midnight.
Hey, once we played for a school dance at which nobody danced.
This happened in a rural community somewhere out in the county. Was it Mangum? Nimrod? Punkin Center? Wherever it was, local authorities had ruled no dancing on school property.
But somebody had paid us to show up, so while we played our dance numbers the students chose partners and held hands and walked around in circles. And kept walking all evening, until we quit.
This band died hard.
When Jack Brown went away to college, E.J. Pryor became our final leader. He had a day job as head soda jerk at Corner Drug Store, which was fortunate because the income from our gigs was getting somewhat pitiful.
Some nights, after we played at the Roof Garden and paid the hotel its 25 bucks, we wouldn’t have enough left to bother about counting. That didn’t matter. Any one of us would have borrowed money and paid, to be a member of that little group of friends. –-- Leon Hale
This week I have a mystery. In the Eastland County Museum I found some negatives labeled "Band Meet." This appears to be an all-region band event that was held at Eastland High School, but I have no idea the year or any of the people in the photo. Does anybody recognize anything?
This week's Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Love Oak Pharmacy. Become a band sponsor by visiting: https://ehsbandboosters.givingfuel.com/eastland-band-boosters
The 2018-2019 school year has been an exciting time for the Eastland High School Color Guard. After many years without a guard, the 2018 marching season opened with the stunning addition of a six member Color Guard team. Following the show design of Mike McGehee and under the direction of Shelley Rinehart, the team absolutely blew us away, winning many distinctions at marching contests throughout the marching season.
As the season drew to a close, the decision was made to do something that has never been done in Eastland ISD—develop a Winterguard program, giving students the opportunity to continue to refine their skills while competing as part of the North Texas Colorguard Association. Mike McGehee once again stepped in to choreograph a show, and the kids took off! With each competition, the team of eleven continued to grow, earning a higher score each time. The season came to a conclusion on Saturday, March 9 with the championship competition in Mansfield, Texas. The Eastland High School Winterguardcompeted against 4A and 5A schools and brought home the silver medal!
We hope you will join us for a season wrap up exposition at Marshal Gym on Monday, March 18 at 6:30.
Eastland Winterguard Team: Andy Nguyen, Kaycee Clark, Kagin Dove, Yexalen Ortiz, Laisha Hoil, Claudia Alaniz, Macey Fortenberry, Leslie Palacios, Danielle Coyote, Justice Dove, and CJ Chaney.
There was a very active music study club in Eastland for many years. Among their numerous activities and endeavors to enrich the culture of Eastland was an event called "Music Week"
It is in that spirit that the band will present Music Week in 2019 from April 9th through April 13th celebrating the cultural history of Eastland and featuring the music of Eastland's own songwriter and trombonist, Collen Gray " Tex" Satterwhite
Satterwhite graduated Eastland High School in 1937 and went on to have a long career performing as a member of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the 1940's, and then as a music writer and arranger in Hollywood from the 50's until he passed away in 1978. His music appears in movies, TV shows, and was performed by entertainers including Tony Bennett, Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Kay Star, and Vikki Carr. His parents were Lina Gray and E Collen Satterwhite who lived in Eastland many years. For a complete biography of Collen Gray "Tex" Satterwhite visit the website EastlandBand.com/blog and click on the article with his name.
Satterwhite's daughter Lindsay Kauffman from Los Angeles, CA will be traveling to Eastland to be a part of the festivities.
The week will include the following events, all of which are free admission:
April 9th 7:00PM - Majestic Theatre - Showing of "The Benny Goodman Story"
This bio-drama about the life of Benny Goodman was originally released in 1956. Collen Gray Satterwhite can be seen performing in the band in about 8 different scenes in this movie.
April 10th 6:30PM - 1st United Methodist Church - EHS Wind Symphony in Concert
The Eastland High School Wind Symphony will be performing a concert that will include both traditional church music and Collen Gray Satterwhite original music. The entire Satterwhite family attended church at the 1st United Methodist Church and some of Satterwhites music was clearly influenced by his time here.
April 11th 7:00PM - Majestic Theatre -Eastland Music Concert
The members of the Eastland High School Jazz Band and Eastland Pops Ensemble will combine to bring a concert featuring not only Satterwhite's music, but also historically significant music for the Eastland community to include the original 1936 arrangement of the Eastland School Song and a composition by Eastland Alumni Cody Hutcheson. Dedications will be made to Marsha Vermillion, Verna Johnson, G.W. Collum, Leon Hale, and Phil Hewitt
April 12th 7:00PM - Connellee Rooftop Garden - Swing Dance with live music
Eastland HS band director Stephen Cox and the members of the Key City Jazz Quintet will be performing as many Satterwhite songs as possible in this performance. Come hang out and dance. There will be a free swing dance crash course at 5:30PM
April 13th - All Day - Eastland Jazz Festival - Downtown Eastland near Courthouse
This is the day of the 5th annual Eastland Jazz Festival. Texas high school and college jazz bands will be performing throughout the day at the courthouse during the Rips's Ribs Cook Off. A detailed schedule of this day will be available when we are closer to the date.
When you look at a band photo from the past, it is impossible to not imagine what happened to everyone in the photo. A particular year that caught my attention is the Eastland band from 1937:
In this photo are people who would go on to live amazing lives. I know of a distinguished newspaper writer, a small business owner, military veterans, and a school secretary among others. Their stories are worth telling, but today I'm going to focus on a single person in this photo.
Collen Gray was born on October 17th of 1920 in Eastland, TX His childhood home was on 509 S. Seaman Street a few houses down from the First Baptist Church. Though the house is no longer there, you can see the front concrete steps leading into an empty lot where it once stood. Satterwhite's uncle and father owned a hardware store adjacent to the current Eastland County Museum and Lina Gray worked for the Earl Bender Company, the County Courthouse, and was, for a time, the president of the Eastland Music Study Club. They all attended the 1st United Methodist Church here in town and music minister Wilda Dragoo was his childhood piano teacher.
Satterwhite spent his entire education in the Eastland School District. Years later he would tell his daughter Lindsay of the academic rigor and quality he experienced. People like English teacher Verna Johnson and band director G.W. Collum left an impression that he would remember for the rest of his life.
The 30's was a spectacular time for the band program. Prof. Collum came into the district in 1935 and quickly recruited a sizable ensemble. They rehearsed in the basement under the auditorium and competed admirably at concert and marching contest across Texas. Satterwhite and a group of his friends formed a dance band while there were in High School. The group would host $2 Saturday dances at the rooftop Garden of the Connellee Hotel and draw crowds of people.
"Tommy was in Hollywood, and had just fired the majority of his band. He had just bought one of the first tape recorders, and was trying it out by taping off the air. He came across an NBC broadcast during which I did a solo on "I'll Get By". He called his New York Office with instructions to 'find out who that guy was.' He came to New York shortly thereafter, and called me to his office, where he picked up his horn and played my solo note-for-note, which he had memorized from the tape. This was traumatic, and I left with a year's contract for less than I would have otherwise asked." - Collen Gray "Tex" Satterwhite
For the next three years Satterwhite would perform with the Dorsey band week in and week out recording albums, radio broadcast, and appearing with the band in the MGM film "Thrill of Romance". Other personnel in the Dorsey Band at that time included Charlie Shavers, Ziggy Elman, Nelson Riddle, Buddy DeFranco and Buddy Rich,
During this time his song writing and arranging skills flourished. He wrote dozens of songs and arranged/composed for television and movies including about 40 arrangements for the Lawrence Welk show on which he also appeared several times as a performer. He arranged for Nelson Riddle and Tommy Dorsey among others.
Frank Scott, from the Lawrence Welk Show, was a frequent collaborator. One of their songs became a huge hit for Tony Bennett, "The Moment of Truth."
Another hit for Satterwhite was "Through the Eyes of a Child," recorded by Patsy Cline and frequently performed on the Welk Show.
In 1974, nostalgic of old times in the Eastland Band program and urged by a friend from high school, Satterwhite wrote Eastland it's very own fight song arrangement. After the announcement was made in the paper, some members of the community complained at the idea of adopting an original fight song and the administration would not allow its performance. The arrangement has never been performed and appears to have been lost to time.
In 1976 Collen Gray visited Eastland for the last time. A reception was held in his honor and many of his friends from the Eastland Community were present. In attendance was Ima Ruth Taylor - long time school secretary at Eastland ISD and classmate of Satterwhite's, Virginia Russell - Eastland resident and family friend, and Verna Johnson. James Galaway, EJ Pryor, and James Dabney all joined him for dinner and drinks, no doubt reminiscing about their time in that Eastland Dance band 30 years prior.
In 1978, at the far too young age of 57, Tex Satterwhite passed away from a heart attack. He left behind many friends, a daughter, and a ton of music.
The Eastland Band will be presenting a week of Satterwhite's music April 9th through 13th. Click here for more information.
Today we're starting a new weekly post celebrating the history of the Eastland Band Program. Up first, a recently converted video of the Eastland Marching Band in 1986 under the direction of Phil Hewitt.
This week's throwback Thursday is brought to you by Watch This Motors.
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