My Musical Family - Joy Riggs

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A blog about my family's adventures in making and appreciating music.
Updated: 18 min 55 sec ago

Sitting Pretty In Bemidji

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 11:47pm
If you are in or near Bemidji this Saturday, June 18, please consider yourself invited to my presentation at the Beltrami County Historical Society (BCHS), 130 Minnesota Avenue SW. It is free and open to the public, and there will be music!

Sunset over Lake BemidjiStarting at noon, the Bemidji High School Marching Band will kick things off by performing “Night Watch” outside the museum, which is located in the restored railroad depot. Following the performance, we will likely move things inside to the conference room, where I will give a talk about my great-grandfather’s tenure as Bemidji's city band director from 1919 to 1923. The BCHS will conduct a brief meeting following my talk, to elect officers for the next year.


The official title of my talk is: Sitting Pretty in a Pretty Little City: The Story of G. Oliver Riggs and his Remarkable Bemidji Boys’ Band. It will be a pretty casual affair. I will show some photos of the band, explain the highlights of the Riggs family’s musical adventures in Bemidji, and read an excerpt from Chapter 12 of my book-in-progress, which covers the Bemidji years (the chapter title Sitting Pretty in a Pretty Little City comes from a popular song from 1923).

The Bemidji Boys Band at the 1922 Minnesota State FairOne of the highlights was the trip by the boys’ band to the Minnesota State Fair in September 1922. While at the Fair, the 78-member band was declared “The best boys’ band in the world.” That may have been hyperbole, but the boys definitely put Bemidji on the map with their week of performances in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The attention they received led St. Cloud businessmen to attempt to lure G. Oliver away to their city to organize an even bigger band.

If you want to know more about how that turned out, I recommend that you show up on Saturday!
Categories: Citizens

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