An Accessible Version On YouTube!
Strictly Oompah
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1M ago
While I have researched and written extensively on the history of the Sousaphone, most often in The ITEA Journal, I thought it might be nice to get a simple, visually interesting summary of the story behind the original Sousaphone out to the general public - just in case you're interested. Enjoy ..read more
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Chris-Kratt/A. K. Huttl Sousaphone
Strictly Oompah
by
5M ago
This past Tuesday we had our quarterly staff training day, called "LCBC U," where, at lunchtime, we decided to have a little fun by hosting a "Hidden Talent Show." The planning team knows that I am a tuba player and Sousaphone historian, so they pretty much demanded that I play my Sousaphone in the show! While the introvert in me hesitated briefly, it was ultimately an easy yes. Here's the back story . . . When I joined the LCBC staff eleven years ago, I learned that the Lead Worship Pastor, Matt Goss, was also a tuba player, and a serious one at that (he's on the left above, and that's me o ..read more
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Jack Richardson's last personal tuba
Strictly Oompah
by
5M ago
For quite a few months now, I have been researching John W. "Jack" Richardson (1874-1939), who was the longest tenured tubist in John Philip Sousa's band, joining that world-class ensemble in 1904 (or possibly late 1903), and playing with it for a combined 22 years. During that period, Jack was likely the most recognizable bass player on the planet, being 6 feet 6 inches tall and anchoring Sousa's bass section on the massive upright bell Sousaphone that Sousa himself designed years earlier. Here is Jack with Sousa's Band in St. Louis in 1904: Shortly after the death of Sousa in 1932, Jack re ..read more
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From cigars to Sousa and back again
Strictly Oompah
by
7M ago
  John W. "Jack" Richardson (1874-1939) began his work life as a cigar maker in Rothsville, Pennsylvania, at around the age of 19 or 20. Many small cigar factories were spread throughout Lancaster County in those days, so it is not surprising to discover that his first line of work was hand rolling cigars. At the same time, Richardson started playing Eb bass in the Rothsville Cornet Band, followed by the Lititz Military Band, a few miles down the road, which was formed in late 1895, mostly of Rothsville Band members. Here's that band shortly after the time that Richardson played in it ..read more
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My latest research on the Sousaphone
Strictly Oompah
by
8M ago
  Here is the title page for my article in the Fall 2023 edition of the ITEA Journal, which will be coming out shortly (I just received the final proof). As I've meandered along in my research on the Sousaphone over these past 11 years, I've had it in the back of my mind to write the definitive history of that unique instrument in the context of the band led by the one who dreamed up the horn - John Philip Sousa. But, as typically happens with me, I get happily sidetracked by other projects, and pour myself into those. Finally, however, while occasionally assisting Douglas Yeo this ..read more
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Original Sousaphone Sighting, 1902!
Strictly Oompah
by
8M ago
The Iroquois Band of Lancaster, PA, in 1902 As often happens, while rummaging through historical archives for one specific thing, I stumble upon something else that I wasn't even looking for! Let me explain . . . I'm neck-deep in researching John Philip Sousa's longest tenured tubist, John W. "Jack" Richardson (1874-1939), and because he was born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I've been learning about the band scene in that region during his lifetime. One of those bands, formed in late 1888, was the Iroquois Cornet Band, or simply the Iroquois Band. Here's the notice of its for ..read more
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Don't know Jack? You will very soon!
Strictly Oompah
by
10M ago
See that tall guy, all the way to the left, holding a Sousaphone? His name is John Welsh Richardson, although he went by "Jack," and it turns out I've been driving right by him for years now! That is, he is buried in Brownstown, PA, which I pass through on the latter part of my weekly commute from Harleysville to Manheim: When it comes to the history of the Sousaphone, I seem to be geographically blessed!  As I have shared earlier in this blog, the original Sousaphone, built by J. W. Pepper in Philadelphia, currently resides at the Pepper headquarters in Exton, which is also right a ..read more
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Sousa Dies Suddenly in Reading, PA
Strictly Oompah
by
11M ago
Looking at the photo above - the last taken of Sousa before his death - one is tempted to wonder if the bandmaster knew what was coming, especially when you read below that he had "laughed and joked" earlier that evening, at the banquet in his honor - even making wisecracks as he was being lauded!  Having completed 40 years of touring with his incredible band, the evening of March 5, 1932, would be the last time this beloved bandmaster would lead a musical group. Here is the whole story, as it was told in local newspapers, of the days surrounding the sudden death of John Philip Sousa ..read more
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Checking out a 1906 Higham helicon
Strictly Oompah
by
11M ago
I spent the afternoon today at the Ringgold Band room in Reading, PA, at the gracious invitation of their assistant historian, Wendy Schmehl. My reason for the visit was to see if there was any evidence that the band, at one time, featured a J. W. Pepper helicon (yes, they did - but that's for another post), as well as the original Sousaphone, also built by Pepper (no, it seems not). I also wanted to see their wonderful photo of Sousa's Band at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis (more on that later!). What I wasn't expecting is what Wendy had waiting for me when I arrived: a dusty and tarni ..read more
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J. W. Pepper Built the World's First!
Strictly Oompah
by
11M ago
Most people in America have seen a Sousaphone before, even if they didn't know it by that name. This enormous horn shows up, often in large numbers, in high school and college marching bands each fall during football season. But that’s about where the familiarity ends. Very few people today know that the Sousaphone originally had a bell that pointed straight up; or that it was created not for marching, but for use in a concert band; or that it was named after a bandmaster who would quickly become the most popular entertainer of the day—John Philip Sousa (“Who?” I’m often asked). But what almo ..read more
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