1998 – 70th Reunion Concert

The Concert!! – July 27, 1998

Kitsilano Boys Band 70th Reunion Concert

Kitsilano Showboat, Vancouver – July 27, 1998

by Gordon Laird – Kits Band, 1950

It started as an idea in Barrie Gillmore’s head. Barrie was talking ith his friend Bea Leinbach, who runs the Kitsilano Showboat at Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver. Barrie asked Bea if there were any free evenings in the Showboat schedule “Only Monday, July 27, 1998” was the response.


Barrie got on the phone immediately to some of us who had organized previous reunions: Norm Mullins, Glenn Startup,Brian Bolam and myself. We met in Barrie’s business office in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, April 29, 1998. Barrie had talked at the outset to Vera Delamont and Ken Sotvedt. We said, “It’s a go!”. Amazingly, it was only later that Barrie realized it was exactly 70 years from the founding of the Kitsilano Boys Band! We now had less than three months to pull this off. But we divided the duties up and started in.


We immediately contacted Dal Richards who told us he had another engagement that night and wondered if we could change the night. Not possible! So we asked Dal to conduct the first three numbers and then we would arrange to transport him to nearby Vanier Park for his previous commitment: “Bard on the Beach, Barbecue and Big Band”. Dal offered us 100% support and came through with two fine interviews on his weekly Radio Program in addition to numerous plugs.


Glenn Startup and I took on the publicity, and Glenn with his extensive experience in the advertising field and his large supply of photographs from previous Kits Band reunion events, knew exactly how to get the information to the newspapers. He prepared a “Press Kit” with information and photographs and the publicity was underway. I sent out 30 or 40 e-mails to radio and television stations. Bing Thom came into the picture in the early stages. Bing is an internationally renowned architect who was heavily involved in Expo 86 and also designed the Chan Centre (Recital Hall) at U. B. C. Bing played clarinet in the 1958 Kits Band. A phone call from Bing was enough to get us mention in gossip columns and to pique the interest of the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpey.


We were underway! We continued to meet every second week until the event, with Ken Sotvedt, the Conductor of the Vancouver Firefighters Band and Kits Band 1955, whom we asked to conduct the concert joining us for many of our meetings. We asked Ken Douglas to be our Master of Ceremonies. Ken sat in on the last meeting and then attended both rehearsals, taking extensive notes.


Ron, who played trombone in the 1950 Band, went on to a great musical career which included arranging for Duke Ellington. With Glenn’s help, Brian contacted Ron in Toronto and convinced him to come out for the Reunion, and also to bring some music that he might conduct, using some of the elite musicians we were sure would turn up. Ron agreed and sent along an Ellington medley he had arranged for the Duke, so that the musicians might practise before he arrived.


Knowing Vancouver weather we had to take precautions. First we booked the St. Jame’s Centre in Kitsilano as our backup location, knowing that it held only 320 and we would have close to 100 in the band. After our first rehearsal at the Bessborough Armory (2025 W. 11th Ave.) Ken Fowler, who oversaw this rehearsal for us, suggested that the Bessborough Armory would be available in case of rain. But by now, we were all pretty sure that rain would not be a problem. As I write this we are in the middle of a heat wave!


We divided up the instruments, Brian Bolam taking the brass and drums, Glenn the saxophones and I the clarinets. At first we had great concerns about finding enough clarinets. We were hoping for a minimum of 10 and wanted more. However by the second rehearsal we were delighted to have 21 clarinets! Brian requested that we play Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday”, and with the committee’s approval sent out the parts in advance to all the trumpters.


Dal Richards has a program on Radio Station 1040 in Vancouver which is broadcast every Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. and is rebroadcasted at 11:00 p.m. On Saturday, June 20th, Dal interviewed Jimmy Pattison about his experiences with Mr. D and the band, and about the upcoming event.

On Saturday, July 11th, Dal interviewed Ken Sotvedt. On each occasion, Dal made sure he mentioned the time and place at least four times!

The first Rehearsal – July 19, 1998

Here is the makeup of the first rehearsal, which lasted three hours:

Clarinets: 10, Trumpets: 13, Trombones: 6, Baritones: 5, Drums: 2, Horns: 2, Alto saxes: 6, Tenor Sax: 1, Baritone Saxes: 2, Basses: 3, plus Ken Sotvedt, Dal Richards and Ken Douglas = 53

The second Rehearsal – July 26, 1998

The second rehearsal attracted the following, plus some interested former band members and family members:

Clarinets: 20, E flat Clarinet: 1, Trumpets: 24, Trombones: 7, G Trombone: 2, Baritones: 7, Drums: 2, Horns: 3, Alto Saxes: 6, Tenor Saxes: 2, Baritone Saxes: 2, Basses: 4, plus Ken Sotvedt, Dal Richards and Ken Douglas = 83

During our rehearsal we broke for a rehearsal of the stage band, conducted by Ron Collier, and featuring one of the finest trumpet sections you could hear anywhere! Following the rehearsal we met at Norm and Julie Mullins’ home in the British Property for a fabulous barbecue dinner and get together. That ended a wonderful day at 8 or 9 p.m. (for some at 11:00 p.m.!) ready for today’s concert!

The day dawned bright and hot. Clear blue skies and weather about 28 degrees. This night Vancouver was to tie the all-time weather for overnight with a night in 1941 – over 20 degrees! The program started right on time with a brief introduction from Bea Leinbach, the Director of the Kitsilano Showboat. Here is how M. C. Ken Douglas took us through the concert:


    • “O Canada” – conducted by Dal Richards
    • “Best Broadway Marches”
    • “The Saints” – clarinet solo by Chris Startup
    • “Overture for Concert Band” – Ken Sotvedt took over as conductor for the rest of the program. This number was written for the 50th Anniversary Concert by Robert Buckley, who played clarinet this evening!
    • A radio columnist: “The biggest audience in the history of the Showboat!”
    • “At the Gremlin Ball” – trumpet solo by Arnie Chycoski
    • The trombones swing out!
    • “Buglers’ Holiday” – featuring the trumpet section
    • “Deep Harmony” – trumpet solo by Jimmy Pattison
    • “A Tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein” – trumpet solo by Brian Todd Photo: Donnie Clark
    • “Rock Around the Clock”
    • “Scenes that are brightest” – trombone solo by Bill Trussell
    • ” The Lost Chord” – trumpet solo by Roy Johnston, joined on stage by all the trumpets
    • “A tribute to Arthur Delamont” by Norm Mullins – see below
    • Ron Collier’s Big Band: “A tribute to Duke Ellington”
    • Ron Collier
    • Alto Sax solo by Bob Buckley
    • Trumpet solo by Art Tusvik
    • Baritone Sax solo by Chris Startup
    • “Washington Post”
    • “Spanish Fever”
    • “As Time Goes By” – clarinet solo by Jack Bensted
    • “Big Band Showcase” – trumpet solo by Donnie Clarke, alto sax solo by Dale Peterson
    • “The Huntsman” – post horn solo by Brian Bolam
    • Barrie Gillmore made a presentation to Vera Delamont, recognizing her assistance and her support and in honour of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur W. Delamont
    • Vera Delamont represents her Family,
      with Mrs. Mullins (Norm’s Mother) and Mrs. Sotvedt (Ken’s Mother)
    • “Semper Fidelis” – with all players standing up progressively by sections
    • “Denton Park” – trumpet solo by Wayne Petty

Norm Mullins’ tribute to “Mr. D.”: (see top)




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