A Brief History of

The Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band



The LTWCMB was formed in 1960 by a half-dozen people who lived in Los Trancos Woods (in Portola Valley behind Palo Alto). Since that humble beginning the band has expanded to 180 people (on the roster - maximum number playing has never exceeded 100). The members come from all walks of life and vary from almost born to over 80 years old. A large number are Stanford grads, and most of those were in the Stanford Band going back to the 50s. Many members today are high-tech workers in Silicon Valley. Also, most of the bandspersons were in high school bands or college bands. However, many never played anything and fill in on kazoos and the like. Our core group consists of semi-professional musicians who play in dixieland bands, symphony orchestras, town bands, and so on.

From the beginning the band eschewed convention. No lines or columns, every uniform different, no marching in step, no rehearsals, no auditions, no charts (music), no regular marching band tunes, nobody is refused membership, and so on. The result is a somewhat colorful group who always delights the crowds. At first, we just marched around Los Trancos Woods and then celebrated our march with a few quarts of beer at Rossotti's in Portola Valley (now the Alpine Inn Beer Garden - still a favorite of the bandspersons). In 1961 we entered our first parade, the Boulder Creek St. Patrick's Day Parade. Now, we perform in about 15 parades a year (and turn down another dozen). Some examples are the San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade and Columbus Day Parade, the Castroville Artichoke Festival Parade, the Redwood City Independence Day Parade, and the Los Altos Pet Parade. In all of the parades we are followed by a beer cart that contains a keg of beer (for those long pauses every parade seems to have). We do some other non-parade events like the Calistoga Beer and Sausage Festival.

We have changed a little over the years in that we now have one rehearsal a year. We try to learn a new tune, usually unsuccessfully. We have no official music and everything is played by ear. Some of our musicians wrote up a tune or two, but few use the charts. Our tunes are somewhat jazz-oriented. "Yes, We Have no Bananas", "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", "Washington and Lee Swing", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "Dixie", and many others. Usually we play once through and then sing a chorus or two and play through again. After the parades some of us visit the local saloons and play lots of other stuff until we are thrown out (this sometimes doesn't take too long).

The band is kept together by a newsletter that announces all of our events. The members have to pay $5 a year dues for the privilege of receiving the newsletter. The band is managed by two former Stanford roommates, class of '58, Don Nelson and Jim Harvey.



Back to Index

Send a Message to the Band!