Ojai Band


Ojai Band History

It all started back in 1990...

when Sara and Bob Beebe went on a vacation to Cape Cod and visited a small town called Chatham, Massachusetts There they attended an evening concert in Kate Gould Park hosted by the Chatham Band.  The Chatham Band was originally formed back in 1931, and had performed free concerts in the park since 1945, with a brief break in their schedule during WW II.  These concerts had become well known throughout the region, and included a variety of big band era and American standard patriotic tunes.  It was on this trip that the idea came about of creating a similar small-town all volunteer band for the city of Ojai.  When Sara and Bob got home they got to work on what would become an Ojai cherished tradition - the Ojai Band.

Band concerts started back in 1991 at the original bandstand shown above.  The concert format included big band classics, traditional concert band repertoire, marches and patriotic tunes.  The famous children's balloon march got the audience to their feet to parade around the Libbey Park walkway with a sea of colorful balloons to the sound of a march medley.  Concerts became popular with  all ages and were widely attended by both locals and visitors alike.  The original bandstand was soon overflowing with volunteer musicians.  As interest in performing with the band increased, fundraising began to construct a new larger bandstand that would hopefully hold all the musicians.  In the late 90's a new bandstand was constructed, with the design help of a local architecture firm.  The Ojai Bandstand was constructed and still stands today in Libbey Park.

Sara and Bob Beebe were intensely involved in the band planning and organization from the beginning until the mid 2000's when they had to take a slight step back to enjoy retirement and grandchildren.  They were still involved, but in a more limited capacity.  At that time the director (Joe Boccali) began looking for assistance  to help with the  planning and organizing portion.  There were balloons to fill, popcorn to make, a music library to tend to and various other tasks beyond the directing of music.  After starting the season with his own family stepping in to fill those shoes, the Ojai Rotary West offered to assist.  They had a team of volunteers with the skills and desire to help the Ojai Band continue to thrive.  They have sponsored the Ojai Band since, and provide invaluable support to the band.

In 2021 with a global pandemic on the move, the Ojai Band moved their concerts from the crowded bandstand area to the Libbey Park Bowl; a much larger venue with plenty of space for social distancing.  The performers and guests enjoyed the upgraded size and seating of the new venue.  The summer Ojai Band concerts have been taking place in the bowl since that season.  


The first director of the band was Bill Wagner, who also served as the Music Director at nearby  Nordhoff High School.  He worked with Sara and Bob Beebe to put together the concert format that still is used today.  He served as director until  2000, when Joe Boccali (who had also played in the trumpet section on and off since 1990) took over the baton.  Joe Boccali was also serving as Music Director at Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura, California, when he took over leading the band.  In 2014, Joe handed the baton to Laura Denne (also an original member - see photo above, string bass player far right).  Laura conducted the band from 2014 until 2022.  During her tenure as conductor, the band concerts were moved over to the Libbey Bowl, from the original Libbey Bandstand that had been created for the band's performances.  

In 2023, Laura retired as the full time conductor of the band.  The band will move forward with shared director responsibilities.  Guest conductors, will be selected for each concert. with the continued support of the Ojai Rotary West.

Bill Wagner

Director 1990-2000

Joe Boccali

Dirctor 2000-2014

Laura Denne

Director 2014-2022

The Ojai Band Song 

Pictured left, Phil Harvey, who performed the Ojai Band Song at every concert for over a decade

Lyrics coming soon...