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. 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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The Eastland Band students are achieving an unprecedented level of success. In the last five years they have earned their 9th consecutive sweepstakes, performed at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL, won the 2018 1C Middle School and 3A High School Outstanding Performance Series Statewide Band contest and we couldn't be more proud of them.
Achieving this level of success comes at a very high cost in terms of instruments, uniforms, staffing, design fees, transportation, as well as other behind-the-scenes costs that no one but the directors or students might realize as the seasons progress. We currently depend on donations from people like you for a large portion of our costs that are imperative to the success of the program. We've set up an easy online platform for you to set up a recurring, or one-time donation.
If you prefer, you can mail a check in support of the students of the Eastland High School Band.
Donating is easy. Send a check here:
Attn: Stephen Cox
900 W Plummer
Eastland, TX 76448
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This past week was an exciting week for the Eastland Band Program. It began with region solo and ensemble contest at at Stephenville High School on Feburary 9th. The Eastland Band left with 10 1st division ensemble medals and 15 1st division ensemble medals. Of the students that competed 18 of them are advancing to Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest this May.
1st Division Medalist in Picture:
Joshua Karki, Cristian Herrera, Ryan Jameson, Tyler Allen, Trenton West, Lance Tinkle, Pete Jameson, Andy Nguyen, Dillon McGrath, Kailey Vickers, Abbey Weaver, Leslie Palacios, Daniela Coyote, Catherine Hernandez, Shelby Fuquay In front: Hallie Hagan, Macey Fortenberry
The week continued at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio. Eastland had three students make the all-state band: Shelby Fuquay, Joshua Karki, and Dillon McGrath. These students rehearsed all week with nationally recognized clinicians and performed a concert at the Lila Cockrell Theater in downtown San Antonio on Saturday.
During this same time Eastland Directors Jett Lowrance and Stephen Cox were both given plaques in recognition of the Outstanding Performance Series State Championships won last year by the Middle School Honor Band and High School Wind Symphony at the Association of Small School Bands yearly TMEA Conference membership meeting. Mr. Cox also presented a continuing education session to other music educators entitled Next Level Classroom Videos as a part of the conference.