News Content

20 Years and Blowing Strong


submitted C. Franchi


May All Your Days be Circus Days!


submitted L Sikorski


Happy New Year and Welcome to 2021!



Vacation in Paradise

The Musical


submitted B Hammomd

The Year Live Music Performances …..
“Took Five”


submitted C Franchi

Love Expands


submitted D McNutt

The Year In Review

submitted H Pallikan

All That Jazz

submitted J LaRosa

Celebrate with the Golden  West Pops

submitted B Hammond

Where's the Beat?

submitted M Zimmer

On The Road Again, With the Golden West Pops

submitted H Palikan

Where Did The Year Go?

submitted J LaRosa

Hottest Concert Ticket in Town is Free!

submitted J LaRosa

Wednesdays - A Peek Behind the Curtain

submitted M Zimmer

Oh The Places You'll Go

submitted H Palikan

Traveling with the Pops Again!

submitted B Hammond

Let There Be Bands

submitted J Brennan

Traveling with the Pops….Again!

submitted B Hammond

Journeys Near and Far

submitted H Palikin

For The Joy

submitted S Zimmer

I've Got The Music In Me ...

submitted C Franchi

Orphan Band Instruments

submitted C Jean

My 50 Piece Family

submitted H Palikan

Travelling With the Pops

submitted B Hammond

More Talent Than Just Playing Music

submitted C Franchi


submitted J LaRosa

Reflecting on the Journey

submitted M Zimmer

Song of Hope and Peace

submitted J Brennan

The Christmas Carol

submitted C Franchi

Tripping with the Pops

submitted B Hammond

Summer 2014

 L Jean

OC Can You Play?

C Franchi

Century High School and the Golden West Pops

H Palikin

GWPops Inaugurate Ensemble Festival

J LaRosa

Holiday Favorites

J Brennan

What A Year!

H Palikan

Sleigh Ride

L Jean

Under Golden West Summer Skies

B Hammond

Golden West Pops plans patriotic set for summer concert

submitted B Woolsey

The GWP Invades Palm Springs!

submitted M Zimmer

10 Years Old, 1000 Years Experience and Taking to the Road

submitted by J LaRosa

Goldenwest Pops Close Out Another Great Year

submitted by C Franchi

Holiday Greetings From Around The World

submitted by B Hammond

Century High School Joins Pops for Combined Concert

submitted by C Franchi

From Gershwin to Queen

submitted by J LaRosa

The Girl from Hormel

submitted by J LaRosa

Twas the Night for the GW Pops Holiday Concert

submitted by C Franchi

Great Night at Bella Terra!

submitted by C Franchi

Spend the Holiday's with Us!

submitted by C Franchi

Dance Styles Part 1

submitted by C Franchi

Chilling Music

submitted by C Franchi

submitted by C Franchi

A Violinist in the Metro

submitted by K Dean



submitted by C Franchi

submitted by P Gorman


Golden West Pops News

September 20, 202s

Twenty Years.  2 Decades.  Has it really been that long?  As one of the founding members of the Golden West Pops I was part of the original 15 people who decided that music was essential, and we needed to form a band.  We worked together to bring a group of musicians, our friends, to perform our first concert in December 2003.  Rehearsing in an old warehouse, borrowing music from other groups, and pooling our network of resources, the Golden West Pops was formed.


In the following years we have had some remarkable changes in leadership, reorganization, and rebuilding of our membership.  We’ve lost some beloved family members, John, Delores, Fred, Tim, Janice, Pat, Pam, Janine.


We’ve been on 6 tours, Cambria, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas and just recently Arizona. 



We had the privilege of performing at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the Orange County Fair,  Segerstrom Performing Arts Center, the USS Iowa, the USS Midway, under the skirt of Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, for the American Legion, the Lions Club Fish Fry, the Field of Valor in Orange and Huntington Beach Summer concert series just to name a few. 

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And we are still going strong.  Under the leadership of our conductor, Pollyanna Gorman, who has been our leader since the beginning, we have built a strong group of quality musicians from all over Orange County.  But we are not just musicians that meet every week, we are family.  We rehearse, we do performances but most of all we have a great time.  We laugh, we have fun, we take care of each other, and we have a great respect for our fellow musicians.


Our Holiday Concerts are our biggest events of the year.  And we go all out.  There is fun and exciting music, incredible decorations, pictures galore and some awesome costume changes.  This year’s event is going to be something special.  With 20 years of holiday music under our belt we are putting together our finest from each year and creating a unique show. 


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I have so many memories.  Most I can’t add to this article, we would be here all day.  All I can say is that this has been one exciting and incredible experience so far.  I can’t wait for another 20 years! 


April 30, 2021

May All Your Days be Circus Days!
Lorena L. Sikorski

When I retired in 2009 I had the honor of participating in ‘meets’ held all over the United States by the Circus Music Historical Preservation Organization known as Windjammers.  We would meet in different locations and perform a week’s worth of circus music performances, twice a year.  The following historical fiction is based on their research and is very accurate as to what it might have been like to be a circus musician.
My name is Tommy.  It is 1930 and I am 16 years old.  My parents work a farm in Iowa and I am expected to do so as well.  My schooling had been spotty depending on harvest seasons and how much help was needed on the farm.  I can read and write and I play a mean trombone. I was playing lead in the community band and also played with a small group that met in a friend’s house.  It was June of the year and the posters were going up that told everyone that the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Baily circus was coming to town.  A ticket was $.25 but I only had a nickel.  So I was thrilled when a stranger approached me and asked if I was the hot trombone player he’d heard about.  I said, “probably”.  He asked if I could play fast notes. I asked him if he wanted a demonstration.  He laughed and said no. Then he asked if I’d like to sit in with the circus band when they came to the town.  I was floored.  He said there was no pay, but the band often invited local musicians to sit in.  The famous Merle Evans was the conductor and he warned me that the music was fast and furious with no learning time. The train would bring in the tents in the morning. The rehearsal was late morning and then you play two shows – an afternoon show and an evening show.  You and your family get free tickets and you get a meal in between the shows. Then the tents pack up at night after the last show and the train moves on.  He said if they like you, you may be invited to the next town to play too, but you’d have to find your own way home.  I said yes even though I had to ask my parents.  My entire family was thrilled at the opportunity that had suddenly come my way.  They told me to take whatever I was offered, even if they weren’t there to approve it on the spot. There wasn’t much going on in farm country in the 1930’s, so this was big time entertainment under the BIG TOP!
I started practicing in a flurry.  Circus music is hard because it is very very fast. Gaining the musical chops to play it would not come easy.  I greased my slide and ran every scale faster and faster until I could do it at the fastest setting on the metronome, my reliable time keeper.  The two weeks passed quickly.  Between farm chores and practicing, I had no other life.  Finally the day arrived and I got up early to greet the train.  It pulled into the station and started unloading at 6 a.m.   The animals were making a racket and the train wheels were squealing.  They unloaded circus floats, and animal carts.  The air was electric.  The excitement was beyond my ability to contain myself.  I watched as the circus guys went through the early morning crowd and offered $.50 to any big muscled guy who would help unroll the tent.  15 men were hired.  They laid out the tent and the poles. They put a person every 5 feet for the entire length of the tent.  Then they pulled the tent forward all at once.  The tent stretched out across the entire length of a field.  They started attaching the tent to the poles and brought in the elephants to lift the poles up to standing height.  The men dug around the poles so they poles sank into the ground.  The same men who had been hired to erect the tent were told that they had to come back that night after the last show, to take it all down. During the set up time, the circus had a parade through downtown Main St. to let everyone know they had arrived.  I was fascinated with the band float. It was 10 feet tall and the guys were playing on the top of it.  They were literally playing to the sky. When the parade was over, the scout who had found me the first time came over to me and told me to go to the uniform tent and get a band uniform.  I arrived at the tent and was fitted for a dark blue uniform with overlaying gold braid all the way down the front that covered the buttons.  It came with a matching military style flat top hat.  I looked good!  I quickly returned to the big top, which was now all set up. I found the band in the back corner of the tent and joined them.  The scout was there and introduced me to Merle Evans, the director.  He was really nice and said he looked forward to hearing me play.  He warned me that everything was in 1. It didn’t matter what the time signature said, there would only be time to have one beat to each bar.  He also said if I got lost, keep the horn up and fake it.  He had an opening on the 2nd trombone book. There were small electric lights that wound their way through the bandstand, as the corner was fairly dark. For the shows a corner of the tent was lifted to get a little air. He told me that different styles of music were used for different acts.  Gallops were for the horse acts, Waltz were for the Trapeze artists, March’s were for wild animals and anything that needed extra attention.  He said to be especially ready for trombone smears anytime the clowns showed up.  Trombones were the motif instrument for the clowns – play loud and proud. He warned me that if he had to call the song STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER by Sousa, that it meant there was a disaster and to evacuate, as you played.  It was a code that the entire circus knew about. Merle played cornet and would conduct with the horn in his hands.  He told me to do my best and have fun.  The performance started and it was 2 hours of non-stop playing.  One tune went right into the next. My chops got tired but I mostly did OK and felt pretty good about it when we broke for dinner.  We went to a mess tent where all the circus performers, still in costume, were grabbing a plate of the special of the day –whatever that was.  Everyone was friendly and the sights and sounds were thrilling.  I found my family and got them settled in the Big Top for the second show and it was time to do it again.  I figured the 2nd time should be better because I was now familiar with the book of music.  However, I found out that by the 4th hour of constant playing, the muscles around my mouth weren’t cooperating.  I know I built chop muscles that day, but it was tough by the end of the 2nd show.  When it was over, I was exhausted but still thrilled to have had this opportunity.  Merle called me over and thanked me for playing.  Then he asked if I’d like to do it again.
Chapter 2
Merle had been very happy with my performance and had asked me if I’d like to do it again the next day in the next location.
 The train was leaving at 1 am, or as soon as they could get it loaded.  Time was flexible. They were going to a town 15 miles down the road.  He told me that there wouldn’t be any ride home.  After the show I’d have to walk the 15 miles back home.  I liked to walk, so I jumped at the chance.  He said ‘great, go home and get a few things you might need.  Pack an extra set of clothes so you can change out of the band uniform.  I’ll see you at 1 am at the train depot. Tomorrow you’ll perform on the band parade float as well.’ 
I ran and found my parents and they were very happy at my success. They said that if I wanted to stay overnight in the next town, they’d send a note to a friend’s house and I could stay there. I could walk back the next day in the daylight.  So the plans were put into motion. I packed and returned to the train depot by midnight, grabbing only an hour nap in between. Things were just too exciting to sleep.  When I got back the same electricity was in the air; the animals were roaring, the train was clanking, men were yelling, things were being loaded at a very fast pace.  I found the band guys and joined them.  We settled down and had guy talk or slept as the train rolled out and arrived in a couple of hours at the next town.  Then it all started again.  Disembark the animals and floats, find men to set up the tent and set everything up.  This time I had to climb up the 10 feet to the top of the circus float, called the bandwagon.  There was a single ladder attached to the back of the float without much toe space.  I was eager and zipped up the ladder while someone held my trombone. On the top of the wagon was row after row of hard benches. Most of the guys had the music memorized.   I had the book but it was difficult to read it while getting bounced around on the wagon.  The calliope on the wagon was impressive.  The guys asked me if I liked being a ‘windjammer’.  I wasn’t familiar with the term.  They told me that circus marches were called screamers because they were high, loud and fast.  Band members were called windjammers because they jam so much air into the instrument in an attempt to play the high screaming notes.  It was like being in another world.  I loved it.  The rest of the day went on like the previous day had; rehearsal, 2 shows.  It was a thrill I would never forget.  As I was about to turn in my band uniform, Merle came up to me and said,  “You did good.  I like your sound and you kept up.  Do you want a job?  I need a permanent player on the 2nd book and you handled it. Now before you answer, let me tell you the particulars”.  He then went on to explain that being a circus musician was one of the most strenuous jobs a musician could have.  The windjammers were expected to play for the circus parade, sometimes play a pre-show free concert for townspeople, make rehearsals, play the 2 shows, and sometimes play post shows on the grounds or sideshows if asked.  If there was down time, they could be asked to help clean up elephants or other menial chores.  The pay started at $10 a week and if you became section leader it could go as high as $15.  You got room and board in the band car – sleeping with about 8 other guys and free food at the mess tent.  You worked 6 days a week.  The circus route started in the winter headquarters in Sarasota Florida and usually went northwest during the summer months going inland to perform to the farmlands of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  It was an exciting life but not an easy one.  There was no room on the band car for romance.  Matters of the heart would be on one’s own time.  The winter months could be spent at the winter headquarters in Florida, or one could go home to the snowy fields of the mid west.   He didn’t make it sound very inviting, but I was intrigued.  Spending my life playing my trombone sounded a lot better then spending my life picking corn, even if it was harder.  I asked him if I could ask my parents.  He said, “ Sure, go home like you planned and if the answer is yes, come back in a wagon. Bring one of your brothers with you to take the wagon home. Meet us at the next train stop 50 miles away. We’ll be there for 2 days because it is a larger city”.  I honestly wanted to say yes right away, but I wasn’t sure.  And there was the issue of the farm, could I be spared?  So I decided to be safe.  I went to my parent’s friend’s house that night and then walked back the next day to our farm.  I found my dad and 3 of my brother’s in the field working the harvest.  Dad grabbed me and hugged me and told me how proud he was of me. I told him my news and he was excited.  He asked me why I hadn’t accepted the job on the spot since he’d already told me that they would support my musical career.  I said I was worried about the farm and leaving for months on end.  Being gone for 2 nights was different than being gone for 7 months at a time.  The entire family headed to the farmhouse for lunch and to talk it over.  I also knew that while my family was proud of me, it was also unfair to my oldest sister who played clarinet and sax better then I played trombone.  The bandwagon was only open to men.  In spite of this everyone said I should take the job and send some money home in hard times.  When the corn crop was good, the money wasn’t needed.  But drought and pestilence really cut down on the family’s income.  So I packed my bag and hitched the wagon.  My brother went with me.  He got to see the show again since he was going to make the trip and bring the wagon back home.  We got back to the circus on the 2nd day of their stay.  Merle was happy to see me and told me the harmonies just hadn’t been full enough on the day I missed.  He got me signed up and settled in and I started my career as a Windjammer.  

December 11, 2020

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2021!
What, it’s not 2021 yet?  We’re still stuck in 2020?  Well, we can hope that the New Year will bring a way for us to get back to “normal” and the lives we all prefer instead of the chaos that was 2020.
Usually in December, I write an article that sums up our concerts and accomplishments during the past season.  All the wonderful concerts we’ve played at the Orange County Fair, Segerstrom Performing Arts Center, Enderly Center for the Tustin Girls and Boys Club, etc.  Not this year.  What have we done?  We started rehearsals in January and continued until the middle of March.  That’s it.  That’s as much as we could do before everything was shut down.  But, fear not, that is not the end of my story…
The Golden West Pops, being the creative group that we are, and, under the leadership of Pollyanna Gorman, have continued to meet every week since we had to stop in-person rehearsals.  Every Wednesday evening at 7:00, we have a Zoom video meeting.  Some people attend most weeks, some attend when they can and other just once in a while.  We’ve tried to stay connected as a group and share our stories like a lot of other families have during these trying times.  Some of us are more technologically challenged than others but over the course of the last 9 months, we managed to make it work.  We’ve also been holding our Board Meetings via Zoom so the business of the band continues. 
That’s not to say that some members haven’t played their instruments.  The Pollytechnic Brass Quintet has been rehearsing outside, 6 feet apart and have given 2 Concert On The Lawn performances on Polly’s lawn in Garden Grove.  The audience has been socially distanced as well and we’ve all enjoyed a break from being locked in our regular routine.  The Flute Group, Just Us III, performed at the last Concert On The Lawn as well.  Both groups will perform one more time this year on Sunday, December 20 at 10:00 AM.  If you’d like information, please contact .
One of our trumpet players, Linda Price, has been getting some brass players together at her condo in San Juan Capistrano and they’ve been playing on Monday nights near the tennis courts for residents and family members in the area.  I think a few other members are also getting small groups together and playing outside.
We do have one more surprise for this year.  (And it’s a good surprise!)  We are doing a holiday concert this year!  – The Best of the Holidays with the Golden West Pops.  It’s a combination of several of our previous holiday concerts combined with new commentary between tunes by Pollyanna.  This concert has been made possible by a generous donation and in conjunction with the Mount Prospect Public Library in Mount Prospect, IL.  If you’d like to tune in, go to our website, and click on our only upcoming event, 12/20 Virtual Concert.  Once you confirm your email address, you’ll receive your Ticket to attend.  There is no cost to attend, you just need a ticket.  If you plan on attending, please note – the concert is at 2:00 Central time which is 12:00 Pacific time, and will be about an hour long.  Help us support The Mount Prospect Library and join us for some holiday cheer!

June 26, 2020

Vacation in Paradise

The Musical
by Barbara Hammond

     AHHH, vacation. I have been looking forward to this venture for quite a while. Where am I going? I went to beautiful Kauai! Not only did I have a wonderful time and many adventures, but being the musician I am, it became a musical montage! As we landed the first leg of our flight in Honolulu, I could hear the beat before my feet hit the concourse; that’s right, “Hawaii Five O”. I continued enjoying the beat in my head until I heard “last call for flight to Kauai!” What! We just landed! Now I’m running the full length of the airport, with “Hawaii Five O” playing faster and faster in my head (Polly would be so proud at how fast I can play this), to not miss my connection when my husband yells, “STOP!” Stop? Why? We need to catch that flight! Our friends realized that we were on the next flight out. Whew! Ok, ok, back to “Island Time, Maan”. As we arrived in Kauai and set out from the airport in our trusty clunker rental, I saw a strange bird in the parking lot. A bit plump, short, squatty. . . a chicken! Here it comes, the music…”Roosters Lay Eggs in Kansas”. Roosters, chickens, they were everywhere! On the road, in the road, alongside of the road, coming out of the forest, the fields. It was an invasion of chickens! It may have been disturbing, but it was not going to bother me while in paradise! Oooo, another one….”Almost Paradise”. The view from our condo was beautiful and what song came to mind? Many!! Looking out into the ocean sunset I began to hear the Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I thought the music was in my head, but the music wouldn’t stop. I shook my head a bit, only to realize the music was coming from the resort itself!

     Our first day of adventure began with an ATV ride through breathtaking views. As we drove down the road all of a sudden it opened up into a vast, lush, valley lined with beautiful green mountains. Sweat began to bead on my forehead. Did the earth just shake? Dinosaurs!!! You guessed it. We were at the site where they filmed parts of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Hey, I hear the theme song now! Little did I know, by the end of the day I would be humming many theme songs. Who knew Kauai was the land where films were made. We saw the most picturesque cove only to find out these films were shot there:
Hook, The Descendants, Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and 2, among many more. I stood on the hill imaging the Black Pearl on the shore whilst pirate music circled my head. “Let’s go” came the words from our guide. “ARRRGH” I grunted back. Ok, let’s continue. Next stop was a rope tied to a tree as you gazed across the river to the other side. “Who knows what movie this was used in?” the guide asked. Silence. Oooooo, pick me, pick me. I tried to be silent. I thought to myself, come on people really! So I began quietly in my headed…. Da ta dant taaaa, da ta daaaa, da ta dant taaaa, da ta da da da…. REALLY! Come on people! I began to hum a bit louder as I reached for the rope…I was going to do it! I became Indiana Jones himself when suddenly a kid sped past me and jumped on the rope swinging out into the water. That’s right; a kid got the credit when I was the musician humming the theme for Raiders of the Lost Ark! Well, at least I wasn’t the one that ended up in the river. This was quite the adventure and the week had just begun. So many songs, so many things to see.
     The next day we paddled down a river and hiked back to an area that was a bit Congo like. Yes, they filmed Mighty Joe Young here. Wait, the waterfall, that’s familiar too, “Da plane, da plane”, yes…Fantasy Island. The next day we snorkeled in warm waters and saw so many colorful fish! I was quite at home as I hummed “Yellow Submarine” while swimming about. I swear I saw Nemo and Dory! I just didn’t want this to end, but unfortunately the week sped by. Every day was a new adventure with new songs, coming in and out of my head. Sadly the paradise vacation was coming to a close and it was time to say Aloha…..wait; another song…..”Aloha Oe”. Sorry, couldn’t help it. As we landed back in Los Angeles it was nice to be home, but now I had to prepare for Christmas as it was mid-November……
”Mele Kalikimaka”….I know, I know, I couldn’t help it.
     I hope you enjoyed the story of my trip as well as a wonderful Holiday season with family. Now it’s back to work for the Golden West Pops. Stay tuned and I’m sure we can put a few tunes in your heads.

May 13, 2020

The Year Live Music Performances …..
“Took Five”

by Carol Franchi

It seems the only live music being performed today is either on the internet, virtual, or a lone saxophone, trumpet, opera or Broadway singer, serenading, alone, from a balcony or fire escape.  In this time of social distancing it is not safe for groups to gather to rehearse or perform, nor for audiences to gather to listen.  Every professional concert has been canceled until further notice and all community bands and orchestra are sheltering, individually, in their homes.  Sadly, this includes the Golden West Pops.  As soon after it is safe for us to resume rehearsals and for you to somehow gather to attend, we will resume our performances.  Until that time, stay safe and stay sane because we miss playing for you.  In the meantime, we are going to dig through our archives and post past recorded performances on Facebook and republish some of our “classic” news articles to our subscriber list.
We hope to see you all soon.  Stay tuned.
May 30, 2008
I started looking into the origin of the “Concert Band and what, by today’s standards, does that mean for the Golden West Pops. So here is what I found. Hopefully it will give you some insight as to who we are and why we exist.Definition: Concert Band, also called wind band, symphonic band, symphonic winds, wind orchestra or wind ensemble, is defined as “a performing ensemble consisting of several members of the woodwind, brass and percussion instrument family”. Its repertoire includes original wind compositions, arranged classical items, light music, and popular tunes. Instrumentation is similar to the marching band but it’s primary function is as a concert ensemble (thank goodness!).


In the 18th century military ensembles, known as Harmonie bands, did double duty as entertainment at the royal courts sometimes alone or with strings. Composers, Mozart to be certain, began writing chamber music for these groups which included two oboes, two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons. (ok, so not quite what we have today) When Turkish music was introduced it contributed to the expansion of the “Western European” wind band due to the dramatic percussion parts. This required the addition of percussion instruments such as bass drum, cymbals and triangles as well as the piccolo to balance out the weight of the percussion. (yeah PICs!!) Eventually more clarinets and brass were added and by 1810 the “wind band” was developed into pretty much what we have today.

In the 19th century the English and American traditions mainly used the Military Bands for ceremonial and festive occasions. They performed mainly marches. The only time wind bands were used in a concert setting was when they performed transcriptions of orchestral or operatic pieces. There were very few if any original concert works for a large wind ensemble. In 1909 the first notable and original symphonic work for wind ensemble was written by Gustav Holst. (can you guess?) Everyone’s favorite, First Suite in E-Flat. After that a variety of British, American, Canadian and Australian composers began writing pieces. Most notably are Howard Cable, Percy Grainger and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In 1952 Frederick Fennell established the Eastman School of Music Wind Ensemble. This is considered to be the beginning of what is known as the modern Wind Ensemble. It is generally modeled after the wind section of a Wagner orchestra. Considered to have one player on a part this is only true with chamber pieces. Full band pieces require doubling or tripling of the clarinets and trumpets. Contemporary composers found that the wind ensemble offered a welcome opportunity to perform new music. College band directors have been the driving force in expansion and improvement of the repertoire for the typical concert band.

Most adult bands outside of colleges are community bands. A community band consists of wind and percussion players generally sponsored by a city or town and consisting of amateur performers. The standard concert band will have several players on a part depending on the personnel and the conductor. The Wind Ensemble, however, will have very little doubling, mostly in the flutes and clarinets. >

And so the Golden West Pops is formed as a community band in the form of a Wind Ensemble. Look to future postings to give you the “History of the Pops”.


February 14, 2020

Love Expands

The Well-Traveled Log Cabin Bass

by Dennis McNutt

My daughter who lives in Boise, Idaho needed a better cello. So on a lark I dialed up the Boise Craigslist to see if I could find a good instrument for her.

No luck, only a few student cellos. So I looked for a nice instrument for myself. Of course it would have to be a bargain.

Little did I know . . . .

Now I am a bassist—or a wannabe bassist—who fell in love with the double bass as a twelve year-old. I dreamed of playing that clumsy big box with the big voice. But life happened—marriage, children, career and other interests. After retirement I finally started lessons on the double bass.

(Note: This wonderful instrument has an identity problem. It has many names: string bass, upright bass, acoustic bass, bull fiddle, stand-up bass, bass violin, bass fiddle, doghouse bass, and contrabass. This gives it an inferiority complex made worse by always being pushed to the back row of an orchestra!)

Now basses are like children. Each bass has a particular personality, body and voice. You love each one equally but differently. As each one comes along your love stretches accordingly. But unlike with kids, you can’t have too many of them. (Spouses may slightly disagree!)

There is no standard size or shape for double basses. They range from small ones for children on up to the most common size, usually called a 3/4 bass. Some large concert basses are 7/8 size and a rare few are full-sized 4/4 instruments. The large instruments require long arms, big hands and a large vehicle.

Before the Boise search I had already adopted four double basses. My first was an old jazz bass much abused by music students at a local university. It had the scars to prove it. The next addition was a 7/8 orchestral bass whose owner had passed away. Then I found a 120 year-old bass that had been abandoned for decades in the attic of a bankrupt music instrument store. It was so neglected it had never been modernized from three strings to four. An old orphan, it cried out for love, so I added it to the other bass siblings.

My next instrument was a jazz bass I bought from a studio professional. He needed some quick cash to buy a better one. I discovered I “needed” another bass!

Each member of my bass family has its own name;  “German Jazz Bass,” “Big Italian Bass,” “Dave’s Jazz Bass,” and “Old Three-Stringer.”

I thought I was invulnerable to passion for another old bass.  But you see, we string instrument players all secretly dream of finding something like a Stradivarius violin in Grandpa’s or Grandma’s attic. Unfortunately almost all old attic violins had been imported by Sears and Roebuck and originally sold for between $6 and $9 dollars. Basses cost just a bit more. They aren’t worth much. We know that, but dream on anyhow.

My Craigslist search for double basses near Boise came up a dry hole. So I widened my search.

Bingo! There is was, its big brown eyes begging me to adopt it.

The listing had a photo of an old bass with a splotched finish and the cracks of old age, but the text indicated it was in good condition. It had been born in Germany about 100 years ago. It was now propped up against a bed in a log cabin.

Buying an old bass is always a perilous undertaking. Sales of old string instruments are often fraught with honest error and sneaky fraud. This is particularly so for old basses because their genealogy is often questionable. Even with honest transactions, invisible internal damage often requires thousands of dollars of repairs.

To complicate matters, I was in Southern California, and:

  • The bass was in Kalispell, Montana, 1321 miles away;
  • I would have to buy the bass sight unseen;
  • This was February, and Kalispell nighttime temperatures were about thirty degrees below zero;
  • Humidity was in the single digit range;
  • The bass was in a log cabin heated by a wood stove.
  • It had been stored in conditions that would destroy most double basses by causing the wood to split and joints to come unglued.
  • And it was expensive.

But a phone call wouldn’t hurt, right?

The warm drawl on the other end of the line matched the speaker’s occupation. A snowplow driver, he claimed he had inherited the “hundred year-old bass from his uncle who formerly played it in the San Francisco Symphony.”

Yeah, sure! Probably made by Stradivarius himself!

I should have ended the phone call right there. But the voice sounded earnest.

The owner Steve told me as much as a snowplow driver could know about the bass. Then he sent many photos of the instrument. I had two local experts examine the photos and make some rough estimates of repair costs.

But how could I know if Steve was giving me the truth? I only had his honest-sounding voice to rely on.

Then he mentioned that a well-known bass luthier in Seattle had done some repairs on the bass. He volunteered the name and phone number and suggested I call her. That said good things to me.

The luthier confirmed Steve’s description of the instrument, but the bass was still in Kalispell, 1321 miles away, and the weather was extremely cold. The bass had journeyed from Germany to San Francisco to Kalispell, but it still needed to make its next lap to Costa Mesa, California.

Once we agreed on a price I first had to get the bass to my daughter’s home in Boise, a 10-hour drive in vicious weather. This didn’t intimidate a snowplow driver. So Steve made a quick dash between two storms to meet my daughter and her husband about half-way between the two towns. A month later my wife and I drove to Idaho to get the bass.

After extensive repairs by a highly skilled luthier I finally brought the new old bass home. Everything turned out wonderfully. One hundred years of life and the harsh Montana storage conditions have seasoned the wood, giving the bass a rich and powerful voice quite different from my other instruments.

Steve has promised to send me photos and newspaper articles about the bass as soon as he returns from a job in Arizona. I trust him.

This wonderful instrument has finally taken its place in the Golden West Pops Band—happily located in the back row.

You can call it a double bass, string bass or whatever. I just call it the “Log Cabin Bass.”

December 9, 2019

The Year In Review ... And Other News

by Heide Palikian

December 2019.  How did it get to be December already?  Seems like just the other day we were opening our season with our tri-annual tour.  This year, Las Vegas!  Yes, we took the band to Las Vegas, something the group had been requesting for a number of years.  We toured 3 museums; Atomic, Mob and Neon, had dinner and saw The Mentalist, performed 2 concerts for an elementary school and 1 at the Container Park in downtown, all in 4 days.  In May we performed in San Juan Capistrano again and in July performed outside Segerstrom Hall as part of the lead-in to a free, public concert by the Pacific Symphony.   August 18 found us at the Enderly Center for our annual support of the Tustin Girls and Boys Club Car Show fundraiser.  If you haven’t seen us perform at the Enderly Center in a few years, make sure to check our calendar page and join us in 2020.  When we first started this performance, we used to fit in a small area next to the shops and sat around a small rose bush.  Over the years we grew, as did the rose bush.  Eventually we moved to the parking lot and now the rose bush has been removed to allow more walking space.  We miss the rose but still love supporting the Girls and Boys Club.

2019 is remarkable for being our 15th anniversary.  15 years ago, one of the local colleges discontinued their band program and about a dozen people decided they weren’t done making music together.  They sat down and starting putting together what has become the Golden West Pops.  There were about 15 people at the first rehearsal and we’ve grown now to about 50 people and a wait list of musicians that would like to join us.  We had a couple of conductors in the early years but the one most recognizable for conducting The Pops is my sister, Pollyanna Gorman.  She had student and substitute conducted in various groups through the years and was one of the first conductors for The Pops.  It became clear early on that we needed just one conductor.  One person, whose sole purpose was to make sure the group rehearsed on a regular basis and create the “sound” that would soon be affiliated with The Golden West Pops.  Pollyanna is the face of the group.  She is the person all of the members look to for direction, and not just for playing music but for how to get to a concert venue, finding and providing the music, arranging performances and so much more.  The group has grown under her watchful eye into one of the favorite groups for many venues; Segerstrom Hall, Disneyland, Orange County Fair, Knott’s Berry Farm, Huntington Beach Pier, Cambria VFW, USS Midway, USS Iowa, Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs, Sprinkles Temple in San Francisco and the Container Park in Las Vegas.  
One more item of note for this year, our annual holiday concert, this years’ theme “Not Too Traditional Holiday Concert”.  We will be performing on Saturday, December 14 at Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana.  Doors open at 6:30, concert starts at 7:00.  If you’ve been a fan for even a little while, you know Not Too Traditional is something the Pops do well.  We kind of have our own style and the holidays is when it really comes out.  You won’t hear many “standard” versions of holiday carols but you will hear some that are just a little bit different.  If you haven’t purchased your tickets from your favorite band member, tickets will be available at the door.  Seniors and Students $8, Adults $10.  Happy Holidays!

August 26, 2019

Death is partially responsible for the birth of jazz.

We are all familiar with traditional New Orleans African American funeral processions.  We’ve seen them portrayed on the screen in movies like Live and Let Die.  The funeral procession starts at the church and is led by first-line mourners and family carrying a casket down the street to the cemetery accompanied by a marching band; predominately a brass band.  Trumpets, trombones, a few reeds and drummers play somber tunes as the impromptu parade makes its way down the streets of New Orleans.  This first-line group is followed by a second-line consisting of people often in colorful costumes who join the procession.  After the deceased is laid to rest or “cut loose” the procession returns back to whence it came but now playing joyful tunes and the second-line accompanies with singing and dancing and rejoicing.

Jazz Funerals, such as these are becoming rarer in New Orleans due to people favoring smaller funerals and the prohibitive high cost of hiring musicians, city permits, etc.; sometimes costing as much as $1500.  However, Second-Line Parades have developed a life of their own often celebrating and commemorating many different events with a “Jazz Funeral” sans funeral.

Jazz Funerals or “funerals with music”, the preferred name, followed an almost standard format often playing the same songs.   These musicians played these songs so many times and without music that they took on a life of their own.  Each musician would riff on the tune in concert with other members of the band becoming a moving jam session.  The more times the tunes were played the more elaborate the variations would become. With roots in tribal Africa, built on traditional European music notation and fueled by well-known Christian music, this form of performance began to move indoors and helped form the roots of the music genre we now know as New Orleans Jazz.

July, 2019

Celebrate with the Golden West Pops

by B Hammond

Celebrations. Hmm……let’s see, we have Birthdays, Anniversaries, Births, Homecomings, milestones, special achievements, and the list could go on and on. In other words; we like to PARTY! So let me once again delve into the mind of the Golden West Pops glorious conductor, Pollyanna Gorman. Wow, there are A LOT of musical ideas floating around in here…Ooooo,
 “Celebrate good times, come on! There’s a party goin’ on right here”…
There sure is!! Did you know that the Golden West Pops is celebrating 15 years? That’s right, 15 years of bringing wonderful music to communities throughout California and this year we visited Las Vegas! 
“Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas”
Well; let me keep searching. I’m sure there are more celebration songs in her mind. Hmm….there’s always
“Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you….
Just pick a key! How about celebrat
ing babies?! Becoming a grandma for the first time myself has been special for sure. Let’s see, oh of course; Brahms Lullaby.
“Lullaby and good night…” or Stevie Wonder is great. 
“Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? Isn’t she precious? Less than one minute old” and for those with boys, John Lennon gave us 
“Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, boy”
But as they grow older I believe we all can relate to Rascal Flatts,
“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to…”
So many things to celebrate, so much music to express ourselves for these celebrations. As part of the GWP family the past 15 years I’ve seen and experienced joys of marriage, babies, birthdays, milestones, anniversaries and so much more. I’ve also experienced loss of special GWP friends and family members. 15 years! Let’s Celebrate! Who knows, give us 5 more years and we’ll do it up big….Hawaii here we come!! (Guess I better check with the boss on that one)
Here are some of our band babies and grand babies
               Thea Rose Blunck (Barbara Hammond)

Jane Elizabeth Stell (Kelly Dean)
       Damien Franchi        Dante Franchi (Carol Franchi)
        Bobby& Cambria Hernandez (Diane& Robby Hernandez) 

   The Heinrich clan (Dennis McNutt with
         Denise & Fran Heinrich and Family)

May 12, 2019

Where’s the Beat?!

by Marcus Zimmer

One of my favorite commercial series of all time is Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?!” As a kid, I loved watching the little old lady incredulously demanding, “Where’s the beef?!”  My favorite is when she drives around and yells into the drive-thru window.
Well, it might not be as fascinating, but while enjoying a live performance of your favorite musical group, have you ever found yourself wondering, “Where’s the beat?” When you come to a Golden West Pops concert, you’ll find 50 to 60 people on stage, each doing their part to bring you a single listening experience and, being a “Pops” band, most of them have a beat. So, where exactly does that come from?
That brings me to another pop-culture standard… The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in his kiss). I remember the version from Cher released in 1990. What does that have to do with “Where’s the beat?” In order to find out where the beat is, let’s first take a look at where it isn’t. (“Is it in…? Oh no, that’s the way.”) For those of you who just want to know where it is, you can skip to the end but you’ll miss all the fun commentary on what exactly each of those 50 to 60 members in our group are playing.
First of all, the beat is not in the upper woodwinds (flutes, oboes, clarinets, alto and tenor saxophones). If they aren’t playing the melody, they’re usually playing more notes per measure than mama rabbits have baby rabbits. It’s really hard to find the beat when their fingers turn into a tiny blur.
So, maybe the beat is in the trumpets. Definitely not. If the trumpets aren’t playing the melody, they aren’t playing. That’s either because the composer/arranger didn’t give them anything to play or the trumpets realized they didn’t have the melody and decided not to play. The only exception is the super high long note at the end of a particularly rockin’ piece.
We definitely know the beat is not in the french horns. In fact, they are often the “anti-beat”. If they aren’t soaring above the band in a ridiculously lyric and emotional melody, (side note… you should come hear our very own Kathy Lowe play “Moon River” for a perfect example), they are playing off-beats. I’m not sure anyone knows exactly why but if the composer wants or needs a section to play the off beats, the horns are always the first victims.
Okay, now that we have the obvious sections out of the way, let’s look at the more usual suspects.
Alas, it’s not in the low brass (trombones and baritones). They occasionally get the melody. The baritones often get the majority of the lyric solos while the trombones get the jazz ones. Most of the time however, they have countermelodies or long notes that help fill out the chord structure. On rare occasion, they have a repeating rhythmic pattern but it’s still not the beat, not even in the controversial “Led Zepplin on Tour” which has returned to our repertoire for the 2019 season. While it’s a crowd pleaser, the low brass is tortured with constant rhythmic patterns bringing lip and tongue muscles to the brink of exhaustion just in time to be the featured melody of “Black Dog.”
So, is the beat in the bass section (bass clarinet, bassoon, baritone sax, tubas, electric bass)? Nope. Not there either. While they often provide the rhythmic pulse and harmonic anchor, even the repeated downbeats and strict rhythmic patterns do not contain the beat.
Aha, you cry! There’s only one section left. The beat is in the percussion! Even the auxiliary percussion (bells, chimes, congas, wood blocks, tambourine, cowbell, etc) frequently pound out the pulse that keeps everything driving forward in perfect sync. The set player locks down the rhythm with all four limbs; the feet driving the bass drum and high-hat, the arms flailing in precision causing drums and cymbals to resound in perfect tempo! Unfortunately, if you’re cheering and nodding in agreement, I have led you astray. While the percussion have the rhythm firmly entrenched, they are not the source of the beat.
The beat can be found standing front and center, back to the audience, facing the band, arms waving. In our group, this person is known as Pollyanna Gorman. The beat is firmly in her control communicated with the tiny piece of wood held in the palm of her right hand. But even then, that isn’t completely accurate. The beat takes place the moment the very tip of that baton changes direction. That is the moment that all the sections above wait for. From the opening downbeat to the final note, we watch for the changing direction of the baton so that we can make the beat materialize, whether that be in melody, counter melody, off-beats, chordal harmonies or rhythmic bass lines. In some songs, that beat never waivers, steadfast from beginning to end. However, in most of our pieces, the beat ebbs and flows transitioning from song to song, each of us watching the tip of the baton for the moment that the beat occurs.
So, the next time you’re enjoying a live performance, you won’t have run around incredulously demanding to know, “Where’s the beat?” Just sit back and watch the tip of the baton held by the one standing front and center, back to the audience.


March 21, 2019

On The Road Again, With the Golden West Pops

by Heide Palikan

It’s that time again, time for the Golden West Pops to take to the road and go on tour.  When you hear of most bands “going on tour” you think New York or Chicago.  But when the Pops go on tour we tend to stay a little closer to home; Cambria, San Diego, Palm Springs, San Francisco and this year, Las Vegas.  

Each time we’ve gone on tour, we’ve come back with many memories; the sights we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the audiences we’ve performed for.  But then there are the events from each tour that make us truly remember that specific tour.

Our first tour was to Cambria; a small town on the Central California coast,  a little south of Hearst Castle.  John Wheeler, one of our trumpet players, was our bus driver for this trip.  After driving a few hours we stopped for lunch where there were several fast food restaurants.  At the appointed time, we were all back on the bus and I was checking off names but we couldn’t leave.  We were missing Chris Newman.  He wasn’t on the bus.  Several of us asked if anyone had seen him.  Who had he gone to lunch with?  Finally, we called his cellphone.  The phone rang inside the bus and Chris answered.  He had been on the bus the whole time we were looking for him, just wasn’t paying attention to who we were looking for.  Next stop, Oxnard to perform at a middle school that was trying to restart their band program.   The kids gathered in the grassy quad area and we did our show.  Afterwards, our young drum set player couldn’t put away his equipment due to the crowd of kids that wanted a closer look.  We usually have a group dinner sometime during the weekend we’re on tour and this time it was at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ in Paso Robles, (which as of this writing is still going strong.)  The food was great but the memorable part of the evening was Polly, our fearless conductor, getting on the mechanical bull.  The bull operator took pity on her and didn’t get too carried away and she survived without a scratch.  Our last night in Cambria we performed at the American Legion Post 432 for their St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser, selling corned beef & cabbage dinners to support the local families of our military.  We played a great concert and they fed us dinner, you could say we played for our supper.  At some point, one of the Post’s members learned that we financed our trip ourselves and decided to grab a clean beer pitcher, and start collecting money for gas money to get the band home.  It was very sweet of everyone to contribute and they collected about $500 for us.

Three years later found us headed to San Diego and the deck of the USS Midway.  If you’ve never been on an aircraft carrier, you should visit one of these great pieces of military achievement.  First challenge, how to get our equipment from the parking lot to the flight deck, many stories above.  Sure, flutes, clarinets, trumpets are easy to carry up several flights of stairs.  Try that with a drum set, xylophone, cooler of water, etc.  Picture a cargo container with one of the long sides wide open.  Load your equipment, then a forklift will lift it to the next deck.  While the forklift is raising the load, run up 2 flights of stairs to meet it.  Move everything from the container, around a corner and into the bomb elevator.  Yes, bomb elevator.  Run up two more flights of stairs to meet the bomb elevator so you can now unload on the flight deck.  Look around and see that the band is setting up at the other end of the ship from where you are.  Start moving equipment across the fight deck.  Get everything set up and start playing.  So far, so good.  Except, Polly is conducting in a very strange manner.  Barely using one arm while trying to hold down her music with the other so she can actually see it, much less try to turn pages.  That’s how I ended up sitting first on my knees and then on the cooler, facing Polly, my back to the band, scrunched down so they could see over my head so just my fingers are holding the tops of Polly’s music and she can now actually conduct.  By the time we got to our group dinner that night we had all worked up an appetite.  Dinner that night was at a pub.  We had worked out a special menu for the group to help simplify ordering.  I had numbered each entree and everyone had made their selection earlier in the week.  I called in the order to the pub and we should have been all set.  Except somewhere along the way, Polly tried to “help” me and had handed out the menu to some of our members who had yet to place their orders.  Long story short, we used a different numbering sequence and when dinner was actually served most of the meals were fish & chips.  Good thing our group has a sense of humor.  

2013 had us heading to Palm Springs.  And, we happened to be starting our trip on my 50th birthday.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my half century mark than with 50 of my closest friends.  They gave me a t-shirt, tiara, glasses, etc. stating it was my birthday which I happily wore all day, including the concert we did for an elementary school in Indio.  As I walked through the school, kids were wishing me Happy Birthday and giving me hugs.  It was great.  After we checked into the hotel, we were told to be back on the bus in about an hour.  What?  I planned the trip, knew all of the events and this wasn’t on my schedule.  Unknown to me, the group had planned a special birthday celebration.  One of our members has a family, weekend home in Palm Springs and had agreed to let us have my birthday party there, all for the price of a concert for the neighbors in his cul-de-sac.   The weather was beautiful, the neighbors were great and we had a fun concert.  Afterwards there was pizza and fancy cupcakes and presents, for me.  Saturday night was our group dinner which this time was out in the desert.  There was food and entertainment to be had, if we could just get there.  We were having issues with the bus, brand new but with a bad transmission, the location we needed to find only had GPS coordinates and we had very spotty cell service and had to turn the bus around, almost getting stuck in the sand in the process.  Once we finally arrive, our group was split up with some going on a wagon ride while others watched a Native American Indian dancer, who it turned out, wasn’t wearing anything under his chaps and then listened to a gentleman sing folk songs who couldn’t carry a tune.  Not good with a bunch of musicians in the house.  A good time was had by all though.  On Sunday, we did our last concert of the tour, under the Marilyn Monroe statue downtown Palm Springs.  It would have been great, had it not been 100° at 11:00 am.  

Three years ago we decided to go a little farther from home and found ourselves going to San Francisco.  We decided we needed 4 days for this trip, so left on a Thursday morning, bright and early.  So far, so good.  Through the years we’ve taken to watching movies on our trips, something to keep everyone occupied and entertained.  Generally G or PG movies, suitable for all audiences.  On this trip, the main movie was Galaxy Quest.  I had never seen it and if you haven’t its worth a viewing.  It’s more fun with a large group of friends, stuck on a bus for 8 hours who have nothing better to do than mimic parts of the movie.  It has become a band favorite and will probably make another trip with us in the future.  Friday morning had us heading to breakfast and then the bus getting ready for the days’ adventure.  But for some of our group, who had stayed on the opposite side of the hotel than I did, there was a discussion about some disturbance that had occurred about 3:00 am.  Apparently other hotel guests were upset about something, someone threw hot chocolate at a window and there was much discussion about “Britney, that skank”.   You can’t even mention the name Britney in the band now without someone adding “that skank”.   We had been out seeing the sights and were running a little late for our concert on Friday at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park.  We decided it would efficient to call ahead to a Costco along the way, order a bunch of pizzas and eat in the bus on the way.  Polly and Marcus went to get the pizzas.  Carol and I went into Costco to buy more water and bananas.  We all got back to the bus about the same time and everyone started eating.  We were no sooner out of the parking lot and down the road about 10 minutes and, our fearless bus driver, Ricardo, said, “we’re here”.  We were at the school, still with pizza in our hands.  The concert went well and we headed to our group dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp on Pier 39.  For once, the dinner went pretty well, no major snags.  I just wish I could remember how we pulled it off so we could do it again.  Saturday we toured the California Academy of Science then performed at the Spreckels' Temple of Music in the park, right outside the science center.  Did you know that if you rent chairs for a party, they are more expensive than if you rent chairs for a wedding?  We didn’t either but our member, Steve Hess, found out when he volunteered to take care of seating for the concert.  So, we were having a “wedding”.  The things musicians will do to perform.  

That brings us up to date.  What will happen on our next tour?  What memories will we make?  We’ll find out soon as we leave for Las Vegas on April 11.  Two performances at an elementary school, one at a container park, the Atomic Testing Museum, Neon Museum, Mob Museum and a dinner show.  What could go wrong…?


July 17, 2018

Hottest Concert Ticket in Town Is Free!

The Golden West Pops community concert band will perform a free concert on Sunday, August 5th, 2018, at 4:00 PM in San Juan Capistrano’s Historic Town Center Park. The concert is perfect for all ages so load up the entire family, grab blankets and chairs and stake out your spot for an entertaining hour and a half of music ranging from Broadway tunes, movie favorites, nostalgic melodies, and patriotic marches.

The Pops is a fifty piece all wind community concert band that is now in its fifteenth year of performances in and around Orange County. This, however, will be a rare appearance in South Orange County. The band is hoping to make this the first of many. You can join the band after the concert at the local Marie Callender's restaurant where presenting a special flyer will direct 20% of your food purchases as a donation to support these concerts.

Concerts in the Park are not rare around Orange County but the majority feature cover bands recreating the amplified rock sounds of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The Pops, not attempting to mimic the sound of recorded hits, are reviving and preserving the outdoor concert experience from before the glut of keyboards and guitars. Consisting of trumpets, trombones, clarinets, saxophones, and other acoustic wind instruments they recreate the musical entertainment, descended from military bands, small town bands, and volunteer bands once common across America, but with a contemporary repertoire.

The venue, Historic Town Center Park, is a picturesque little park about a block from Mission San Juan Capistrano and is believed to be a burial site for the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation. The park enjoys a special designation excluding sports activities and promoting contemplative activities such as concerts, plays, and picnics. The land is considered sacred and vehicular traffic or any disturbance of the ground is forbidden except for a narrow strip at the edge of the park.

The concert will hopefully be the revival in San Juan of weekend concerts in the park. For a few hours you will enjoy a relaxing entertaining concert experience, rooted in our European past, and nurtured and refined in large and small towns across our nation.


December 3, 2018

Where Did The Year Go?

H Palikan

Oh my, how time flies!  It seems like we just started our season and now, here we are, selling tickets for our holiday concert, Holiday Treasures on Saturday, December 8.

This year we started our season filling in for the Orange County Symphonic Pops June 24 and followed that up with a smaller group performing on July 1st at Shepard’s Grove church.  August found us making not one but two inaugural performances; August 5 in San Juan Capistrano at Historic Town Center Park and August 26 in Knott’s Berry Farm at the Fiesta Stage.  We also managed to fit in our annual performance at the Enderle Center in Orange, supporting the Girls & Boys Club of Tustin.

We had the privilege of performing for 2 patriotic events this year, September 15 for the City of La Palma’s Hometown Heroes celebration and November 17 for the City of Orange’s closing ceremonies of their Field of Valor remembrance.  Both events were very moving and showed just how much we love our veterans and 1st responders.

The Golden West Pops have been performing around Orange County, and, when on tour, in Cambria, San Diego, Palm Springs and San Francisco for 15 years now.  Some of our members have been playing with us for the entire 15 years, some, more recently.  New or old, we are a family.  And, like any family, we’ve had our ups and downs, good times and not so good.  We’ve made a lot of music together and had a lot of fun along the way.  We’ll be taking the band to Las Vegas in 2019 on tour.  And, as usual, I’m sure there will be stories and adventures galore.  (You can’t mention fish & chips in the band without most people remembering our San Diego tour).  We’ve had members get married, (or are getting married) have babies & grandbabies, some have moved to other states and new lives and a few members have passed away.  While we miss those that are gone, we celebrate our new extended family.

We’ve gotten better with technology over the years, a great many of our concerts are now live-streamed so those that are not able to attend can still be entertained by our antics.  And, thanks to the wonders of technology (and Joe La Rosa) they are preserved for posterity, or, for those that would rather watch from the comfort of their own homes, far away from our actual location.  Go to our Gallery to find the videos and still photos.  Or, check out our Facebook page.

This year our theme was Now Featuring.  Polly found music that featured a great many of our members and almost all of the students we had sitting in with us this summer.  Our holiday concert will continue this theme with solos from quite a few members.  The young men and women from Crew 412 will be joining us again this year to sell desserts, coffee, hot chocolate and water for our guests before and during intermission.  (Personally, I’m very grateful for these kids, otherwise, the band would want me to do all of that baking).  You’ll be able to leave a note for your favorite Pops member with our holiday postcards this year as well.  We have a few surprises scheduled for this year that we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do.  If you still need tickets, contact your local band member or you can always order online or pick them up at the door.  And, if you can’t join us in person, join us on Facebook and let us know what you think. 

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!


June 15, 2018

Golden West Pops Wednesdays - A Peek Behind the Curtain
(from the perspective of Marcus Zimmer)

I’m not sure what you are preparing for at the moment. It could be a birthday party, wedding, graduation, Easter or vacation. However, I can tell you that each and every Wednesday, the members of the Golden West Pops are busy preparing for our upcoming Spring season. I know you know that the music you hear doesn’t just happen but, I thought you might be interested in what actually occurs each and every Wednesday in order to prepare for our performances. I’m sure all of our members has a different point of view but I hope you enjoy mine.

I arrive between 6:15 and 6:30pm. The parking lot is mostly empty as I unload my “things”. I get my key to the rehearsal hall, my back pack filled with music, my music stand, my mute bag and, of course, my chair cushion which will provide a little extra height and some much needed comfort during the pending two hour rehearsal on a folding metal chair. Then, I trod across the parking lot, unlock the door and enter the darkened room which resembles the community hall at your friendly, neighborhood mobile home park. I cross the room and carefully drop my “things” to the floor.

Then I open the doors. Two sets if it’s cold inside; three if it’s hot. Then to the lights: two switches in the front, one in the entry way, one in the bathroom hallway, two in the ladies’ room, four for the main room and one in the men’s room. If it’s cold inside, I turn the timer to start the heater which the band members love but causes our conductor, Miss Pollyanna (Polly) Gorman, to flush after the first couple pieces. If it’s hot inside, I strategically place the fans to get some airflow and hope I don’t sweat to death as I finish my pre-rehearsal routine.

It is now time to set up the room. Most of the time, the room is a blank slate and I begin by rolling out the chair dolly. Other times, we put away tables and chairs from a prior event or work around items already staged for an upcoming gathering. Either way, often a fellow early-bird band member has strolled in with their “things” and we set up. 8 to 10 chairs in the front row with way too much space between each. Our flute section leader, Miss Carol Franchi, insists on having enough room for the flutes but insists “it’s for the [music] stands.” Don’t tell anybody but, knowing that they are going to push their chairs back and expand even if they had 4 feet between each chair, I set them up a little bit closer than they should be. And, special thanks to our oboe players, Marion Anderson and Steve Maurer, who don’t need any extra room side to side. Then, on to the right side of the band (if you’re looking at it from the audience). 2 chairs for the horns with room for their bells and a little extra space before the 6 chairs for our saxes. All woodwind players appreciate a little extra space between them and the brass. Then, behind the saxes 5 to 8 chairs for the trumpets. Phew… are you tired yet? Moving to the left side, 2 chairs for the 1st clarinets and a chair each for the bass clarinet and bassoon. The next row has 3 chairs for the rest of the clarinets followed by 4 chairs for the trombones. This is usually where we roll out the 2nd chair dolly to finish off the last row with 2 chairs for the baritones and 3 for the tubas. And oh… lest we forget, as  I often do, one chair center stage in the rear which serves as a stick holder for our set player, Pamela (PamPam) James. With our chairs in place, it’s time for a folding 6 foot table in the front for Polly (unless we’re sorting music which calls for two 8 footers) and one 6 foot table in the back for our percussionists.

By now, our band members are descending upon our small corner of Costa Mesa in mass. Each with their own “things.” Even those playing the smallest of wind instruments have at least one rolling back pack which would make any flight attendant worth their salt give you a sideways glance with raised eyebrow as if to say, “Really??? You think that is going to fit underneath the seat in front of you?” In addition to those with normal “things”, we have several individuals with unique circumstances. Polly arrives in her cross-over SUV with a timpini, cymbal bag, rolling percussion rack, rolling percussion crate, conductor’s bag with scores, music crate, and non-folding music stand. If that were not enough for her humble auto, she also has Carol’s “things” which would also cause skepticism to rise in the most stalwart of flight attendants.

After untold hours on the 91, our timpanist, Janis Chamoun, arrives from Temecula in her non-air-conditioned, red pickup truck with camper, which she affectionately refers to as her “timpani case.” She comes with 2 timpani of her own, folding table, folding stool, stick bag and a purse hiding a couple protein bars and a Diet Coke.

Our bass player, Dennis McNutt, makes at least two trips hauling in an electric bass and a stand-up double-bass along with a stand for each. Other “things” include his stool, amp, extension cord and music stand.

PamPam arrives from her trek down the 405 in Manahattan Beach with her “small” drum set: bass drum and pedal, the 4 tiered wedding cake (as we like to refer to the snare and three toms), high-hat, cymbal bag, cymbal stands, stool, rug and of course, the stick bag for which we put out that last chair in the center rear of the band.

Usually, the little red clown car is the last vehicle with special “things” to arrive. It bears our percussionist, Keith Buerger, and more “things” than one ever thought possible. Hence, the term clown car. There are two sets of mallets along with a set of resonating tubes and a mallet stand in two pieces. There are bongos and sometimes congas. There’s a large brief case with all sorts of goodies and finally, what we like to call the body bag. Although it is large enough and heavy enough to make you think there is a person inside, it’s full of random percussion things that I can’t even begin to list. So the next time you watch Keith in amazement as he runs from “thing” to “thing” making all sorts of musical sounds, take a moment to ponder how he gets all the stuff into his clown car.

We settle in about 7pm as Polly calls us to order. We pray everyone is paying attention and plays like they are playing attention lest we be forced to play scales. For the next two hours we will play music, laugh and experience life together. There’s also the occasional cat story: a tale of the latest antics of Polly’s cats told while members are finding music, tuning timpani or digging a “thing” out of the body bag. We also have random guests at times. A visiting family member, a walking neighbor or the drunk homeless man wondering what in the world is making all that noise.

At 9pm, the stick stops waving and Polly will affectionately announce, “Thanks for coming. Now, get out.” Everyone begins to put their “things” away. Chairs go back on the dollies. Tables to their places. Lights out. Doors closed. We head our separate ways 2 hours closer to being ready for our next performance knowing we’ll do it all again next Wednesday with our friends who make up the family of the Golden West Pops. It is our honor and privilege to prepare and perform for our guests, even if it means we have to haul a few “things.”


December 9, 2017

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

by H Palikan

I was at the Winter Concert for Magnolia High School the other night and the band director, Mr. Aaron Yim, made some interesting remarks about how much the children are learning by being involved in band.  He asked if they knew how far music would take them in their lives.  It made me think about how far music as taken me, literally and figuratively.   
It all started when I was about 6 and a man came to our home, knocked on the door and asked my parents if I would like to take accordion lessons.  I said, “no, thank you”.  My sister, Pollyanna, said she wanted to.  The man looked at her and said, no, she was too young.  We played this round of questions a couple more times, each time he tried to be more persuasive and each time I said no and Polly saying yes.  Finally, he said if I took lessons, he would give them to Polly as well.  So, I took 3 years of accordion lessons.  Fast forward to 7th grade.  I wanted to play in the band.  I decided on clarinet and soon found myself grateful for those accordion lessons as I already knew how to read music.  When I changed schools in the middle of 8th grade and again in the middle of 11th, I was happy I was in the band.  You know how it feels; you walk into someplace new and don’t know anyone.  Your teachers all ask, where were you at math, English, etc.  But, you walk into band and the teacher asks what you play, you say 3rd clarinet, sit down and you instantly feel like part of the family and have a room full of friends.
My niece, Allyson, found this out first-hand this year.  She started her freshman year of high school at Fountain Valley High School and decided to join marching band, the Fountain Valley Royal Regiment.  She started freshman practice mid-July and by the time school started, she at least knew some people.  As the weeks passed and she spent many hours on the practice field with the rest of the marching band, she become more comfortable and started making more friends.  After many late nights of practice, spending the weekends doing homework, her Dad asked her if it was all worth it.  All the hard work, washing uniforms, her Mom donating volunteer hours, was it all worth it?  She looked at him and said,” when I first walked down the halls, I walked with my head down, covered my head with my hood and just made my way to class.  Now, as I walk down the hallways my head is held high and l look people in the eye.  It is totally worth it.”
I’ve told people through the years that music as taken me many places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.  I’ve seen the Great Wall in China and listened to a community band play Chinese instruments in Shanghai.  I’ve listened to my sister, Polly (who wanted those accordion lessons so long ago) play at in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Segarstrom Hall in Orange County, The Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and too many smaller concert halls to name.  Polly has played in the British Isles, Spain, Italy, Greece, China and numerous places throughout the US.  She’s even played for a Pope and a President.   Sometimes for large crowds, sometimes for small weddings or office events.  If she’s playing somewhere interesting, I try to tag along for the experience.  I get to see new and exciting places and we get to spend some time together, with our music friends.
Allyson is starting to learn about the places she’ll go.  The Royal Regiment traveled to Fresno for the Western Band Association Grand Championship Tournament and Allyson was right there with them.  After 2 days of competition, The Royal Regiment finished 2nd Overall, with the Percussion and Auxiliary both finishing 1st.   Allyson packed her own suitcase, but forgot her drum sticks until she got to the school (Mom had to go back for them).  It was her first adventure “on her own” and she had a great time.  Next up, the Drumline will be competing this spring in Dayton, Ohio during the indoor season.  The marching band will be traveling to London, England in 2 years and Allyson and I will be right there with them.  
Music is such a great experience, whether you play an instrument or just hang out with the band.  I hope Allyson and the members of the Royal Regiment will take advantage of all of the places music can take them.


October 30, 2017

Traveling With the Pops, Again!

by Barbara Hammond

            It’s that time of year again! Yes, yes, reminiscing on my travels with the Golden West Pops. Here we go…ummm…hmmmm…I’m having writers block. Maybe it’s memory loss, oh wait!...Nope, still not coming to me. Oh that’s right! I DIDN’T go ANYWHERE this summer!! Now what am I going to write about. Polly always enjoys my travels and the music that comes with it! Think, think, think…hmmm…Cowabunga I’ve got it!! Wait for it….

How I Traveled the World with Music

I may not have traveled this past summer, but I got to thinking about everywhere I HAVE been, and you know, almost every place abroad has been because of music! Think about it. Music is an international language that can be understood and loved by all. I have been very blessed to have traveled all over because of my music and experience new cultures, history, and beautiful sites.
I have traveled with a youth symphony and played concerts in several places in England. Also in Sursee and Lucerne, Switzerland as well as Amsterdam, Holland. That trip also included concerts at Innsbruck, Vienna, and Salzburg, Austria; Paris, France and Munich, Germany. It was a whirlwind tour, but a once in a lifetime experience. My musical travels did not stop there! I traveled with the Cal State Long Beach marching band and was a part of the Military Tattoo show twice. Once in Melbourne, Australia and then in Edinburgh, Scotland. When I was in Scotland, the band was brought back to London, England to play the halftime show for the very first American Bowl (NFL football in Europe). So much fun, so many memories, so many new friends made along the way. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Every couple of years the Golden West Pops goes on tour in California. We love to share our gifts and talents with others, but it’s also a time we get to share with each other. Music is a bond among people, a way to communicate so many different emotions and take you on a dream to another world. Whether you actually travel somewhere physically or just get swept up emotionally and travel back to memories. I think we can all agree that music is a gateway to many things. So think back on your musical career as I have and recall where you have traveled through or with music. I guarantee it will be magical!!
Stay tuned after next summer….there will be more musical travels to come.

February 1, 2017

Let There Be Bands

by Jeannene Brennan

John Philip Sousa, an American composer and conductor, has penned operettas, waltzes, marches, as well as a novel and essays.  I have to think that one accomplish of which he would be very proud is that of conductor of the US Marine Corps Band, "The President's Own." 

Sousa published an article in Etude Magazine, September 1930 entitled "Why the World Needs Bands."
Why, asks the conductor..."why does the world need flowers, sunlight, and the laughter of children"  Because we have a "soul, a spirit which is hungry for beauty and inspiration."

Mr. Sousa opines that the "band" holds a distinctive place in music in that "it affords a means of stimulation that cannot be acquired in any other way," and that "mankind, from the days of the pyramids, has instinctively demanded groups of instrumental players," and from this time on, progress/development of instruments and players have been noted.  Mr. Sousa writes that the band of today can boast ancient ancestry, many of the instruments "are lineal descendants, ancestors of such remote Asiatic origin that historians are at a loss to discover their beginnings, for example, The oboe and bagpipes "are older than Methuselah,"  brass instruments from the Egyptians, and curved brass instruments that came into use during the time of the Romans.

The Middle Ages brought about improvements in band instruments.  Initially, band concerts were conducted outdoors, the noise level being such that an indoor concert would have been insufferable.  Inventions and innovators, such as Boehm and Sax brought about changes offering great improvements in facility and intonation, making "pianissimo effects" obtainable with the band now being enjoyed indoors as well as at outdoor venues.
The author goes on in his article to discuss introduction of the tuba, and the quest of tone color.  Further, he adds that the "introduction of student bands in public school work is a godsend to America,"  (and who among us, the GW Pops did not play in a student band?) and that "these organizations ..galvanize thousands of lackadaisical and undisciplined youngsters in a way that would not be possible in any other manner."

Mr. Sousa takes the time to address a couple of issues in this article, one in reference to "Stars and Stripes Forever."  The musician writes that as much as he loves to travel abroad, he "always come back to the Unites States a better American," and that the above composition was written while he was at sea returning from Europe, and that the march kept "ringing in my ears" as a translation for his feelings.  Note that initially publishers were unenthusiastic, and that some of the publishers even returned his composition.  Now, the work is the official march of the USA.  Go figure
From the archives of Mr. Chuck Jay, director of instrumental music at Villa Park High School.

December 31, 2016

Traveling with the Pops….Again!

by Barbara Hammond

Okay everyone, here we go! Hang on!! Time to travel again….with a twist. The flight is a bit of a whirl. A long ride as if we were in a twister. As I set foot off the plane I looked around and thought to myself, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”! There are funny talking people and hang on to your hats, we’re upside down! 
“Where are we?” I asked a kind stranger. 
“Why you’re in OZ!”
“OZ! How do I find the wizard? I need to get home! I was supposed to travel to Australia to visit my daughter.”
Awwww. Hmmm, I think there’s a song to go with that! “Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?...” Ok, so now to find my daughter Stephi. As I get into the rental car something is very odd. Why is the steering wheel on my side? I’m not driving. What?! They drive on the left side of the road! Oh, I really need to find the wizard. As I look around the parking lot I see turkeys and giant lizards! Help!! They say the spiders and snakes will kill you here. Turkeys and lizards and spiders, oh my!! I’m off to see Stephi! Is there a yellow brick road to follow? No! “Follow that car!” I yell to Wayne. “At least you’ll be on the right side of the road, I mean left!!” We finally get to Stephi and begin our adventures. As we travel down the highway, oh I mean the “motorway” a song pops in my head. “Who'll come a waltzing Matilda my darling, Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me” Hmm, wonder if Polly would choose that one? We continue to travel up the coast. The ocean is so beautiful. As we stroll the shops at Mooloolaba I notice a quaint park with, ooooo, the perfect spot for the Golden West Pops to play! But just as I begin to dial Polly on my “mobile” the wind begins to pick up. Oh no, another twister? I need to get to the Wizard. Maybe he’ll be up north in Cairns. Yea, that’s it. We’ll travel farther north. So many wonderful sights to see. Let’s take a ride out to the Great Barrier Reef. Wait, there’s a great stage! An amphitheater as a matter of fact. Perfect for the Golden West Pops to play. I need to put a bid in for our next tour! As we reach the reef and slide into the warm, salty water not sure what wonders I’ll see. Swimming around I begin to hum in my head (musicians do that a lot), yep, you guessed it. “…part of your world”. Wait, over there…its Dory. Oh, and there’s Nemo. I found him! Then I hear (in my head) daaa dum, daaa dum, da dum, da dum, da dum….aghhhh, JAWS!!! Swim! I’m out of here. Ok, ok, so it was a very small shark. Actually a very, very small black tip reef shark that is harmless to humans, but the musical effect was cool. After a very long day on the ocean we returned to land and sat down at a lovely café outside to have dinner. Things began to rustle in the trees. What are those? Flying monkeys! Run!! “Mom. Mom! Stop! It’s just bats” Bats! What’s worse, bats or flying monkeys?! Actually, I don’t want to know. I really need to find the Wizard! As our wonderful vacation begins to wind down we visit the local mall to get a reprieve from the heat and humidity. When what to my wondering eyes should appear? Its Christmas decorations! I begin to miss my Pops family as I listen to the Christmas music waffling through the mall. I know they are back home rehearsing for our holiday concert. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas with this heat! Wait, listen…oh, there it is “Oooooooo, Merry Christmas Saint Nick, Christmas comes this time each year, Oooooooo oooooooo,,,” The Beach Boys! I’ve got to find the Wizard and get home. As we wandered the mall some more I stopped in my tracks!  He had a broad face, And a round little belly, That shook when he laughed, Like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, A right jolly old elf, I laughed when I saw him, In spite of myself. SANTA! He can out do the Wizard! “Santa, I need to get home to my Golden West Pops family and tell them about this wonderful OZ. Can you help me?” He asked me if I believe. “I do, I do,” I replied. Then he told me to click my heals together 3 times and say “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”. But wait, I don’t have ruby slippers! 
Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste,
There so much to celebrate.
Believe in what you feel inside,
Give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need, if you just believe.

I believe! I believe in the wonders of Christmas and having your family surround you during this wonderful time of year (oooo, nice title for a song). I did make it back home. Back to family and friends, back to my Golden West Pops family in time for a spectacular Holiday concert. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas. Oh, and yes, I will put a plug in with Polly for our next tour! Off to OZ?!!

December 1, 2016

Journeys Near and Far
by Heide Palikin

Wow!  What a way to end 2016.  Saturday, December 3rd, was our annual Holiday Concert, Incredible Holiday Journey.  The question is where have the Golden West Pops journeyed to this year? 

We started the year in April at Chapman University at the Open House and Art Festival.  (How did they manage this without me?)  I was in Washington D.C. but I made sure I was back in time for our 4th tour, a 4 day trip to San Francisco.  While in the Bay Area, we performed at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park.  Not only did we have the opportunity to play for the students, but, the band students let us play a couple of numbers with them!  They even helped us out on some of our regular pieces.  They sounded great!  We toured the Disney Family Museum, took in a City tour and spent some time at the California Science Museum.  After our time at the Science Museum, we performed at the Spreckles Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park.  We didn’t advertise we would be performing but somehow, people found out.  We had beautiful weather and a fabulous, generous crowd.  (Note:  next time you want to collect tips, use a tuba case.  I think the crowd thought they should fill it up with contributions!)
Our next journey took us to San Pedro and the USS Iowa.  We had performed on the Iowa last March and it was about 95°.  In June this year, when we played, it was cold and drizzly.  Maybe next time the weather will be just right. 
We stayed pretty close to home the rest of the summer.  Good thing too since we had 5 concerts in 6 weeks!  We played at the Orange County Fair at The Hanger Building, the following  week found us in Huntington Beach Central Park for the Concert In The Park series.  Next stop, Disney’s California Adventure and what an adventure it was.  This was the first time The Pops played this venue.  We went back stage through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure and played on the Hollywood Backlot Stage.  Most of us spent the rest of the day enjoying the park and each other’s company.  We took a much needed week off and then performed at the Enderle Center for the Tustin Boys and Girls Club Car Show.  If you’ve followed us for a while, you know this is a show we love to do every year to help raise funds for this worthwhile group.   The last Sunday in August found us filling in for the Orange County Symphonic Pops at Servite High School.
In September, we started rehearsing Holiday Music.  Yes, we started playing Sleigh Ride in September.   (Playing selections from the movie Frozen does not make the temperature cooler outside, no matter what Polly says.)
We have one more journey this year, to Leisure World Seal Beach for a private concert for their Travel Club.  
The Golden West Pops wish all of you a safe and healthy Holiday Season, whether your journeys are close to home or in some far off place. 
Where will we journey to in 2017…you’ll have to wait and see.

November 5, 2016

For the Joy

Shauna Zimmer

I am a musician, a vocalist, to be exact. I am married to a musician. He plays piano, trombone and he has a degree in choral conducting...and he loves working with people. We both do. Why does this matter? We find joy in using our talents, especially when we get to work with others with similar talents. And knowing we bring joy to others when we use those talents isn't a bad feeling either.

In 2007, I met a gentleman that was an instructor at the computer learning center I worked for in Anaheim. We would talk a few minutes here and there during breaks. I eventually learned he was a musician, a saxophonist. I shared about being a vocalist, and that my husband and I led worship.

Marcus and I had moved from Riverside so we could be closer to work and to the church we were attending in Huntington Beach. Yes, we were traveling that far to go to church. While we lived in Riverside he was involved in a community band in Moreno Valley, but he had no where to play when we moved to Fountain Valley. As you can imagine, trombonist aren't in huge demand in the contemporary, guitar driven worship bands. While he plays piano, I knew he missed playing his trombone, and the camaraderie that came with being around like-minded, crazy musicians.

I was relating this one evening to the gentleman at work, Steve Hess (yep, that's right...small world) and he mentioned he played saxophone and was a member a community band in HB, the Golden West Pops. Marcus checked it out, and while there's a little more to the story, he joined the band.

All these years later the GWP is still going strong, and growing by leaps and bounds. We have built friendships, enjoyed some crazy tours (Galaxy Quest anyone?), and I enjoy watching him and the entire band play. As his wife, I often watch him walk out the door for rehearsals and concerts, but the joy and fun he has playing with the Golden West Pops, the time we are able to spend with GWP friends and the stories I hear make it so worth while.
As a vocalist I understand that every individual needs a creative outlet. As a Golden West Pops spouse I see that my husband, and every member of the band, not only play as a creative outlet (and have a great deal of fun in the process) but also play for the enjoyment of others. Through their music, musicians have the wonderful ability to touch lives and hearts in a way that people who are not musicians can understand. I've watched as people have clapped, swayed, danced and sung along with the music. I've watched people's faces light up with joy as a song brings back great memories. I have even been deeply moved as I watched veterans stand with pride during the Armed Forces Medley. In other words, I have watched as others enjoy how this group of people use their talents.

So here are a few parting thoughts I'd like to share:

For every GWP family member, I say encourage your loved ones in the Golden West Pops to play. Support them and invite others to support them. And when they walk out that door, for the 6th time in 2 months, remember what they do makes a difference, and they have fun doing it.

To those looking for a creative outlet in a family environment, ask someone in the band how you can get involved. I can promise you won't regret it.

To the amazing Golden West Pops members, what you do is bigger than just playing in a community band. You touch hearts and bring joy to those who listen to your music. So the next time you pick up your instrument and play it, whether in rehearsal or for a concert, think about the happiness you'll bring to others, and enjoy the moment. We who come out to hear you certainly do!!

July 28,2016

I’ve Got The Music In Me…

By C Franchi

So have you ever been sitting at your desk at work and you start humming a simple melody. You go about your day and continue to work all the while singing this song to yourself. Lunch comes and goes and before you know it it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the song is still there. By this time you are either going to pull your hair out or your co-workers are going to shoot you where you sit. Where did this song come from? Why are you singing it? How can you possibly get it out of your head?

What you have is an “earworm”, also known as a brainworm, sticky music or stuck song syndrome. No, it is not an actual worm that someone put in your ear (think Star Trek II – the Wrath of Kahn). But it is a real thing. Phrases used to describe this syndrome are “musical imagery repetition”, or “involuntary musical imagery” and it happens more often than you think. There have been quite a few studies on the matter and it has been determined that about 98% of people experience this phenomenon (James Kellaris) . While it appears that men and women seem to experience it equally it has been suggested that musicians and persons suffering from OCD are more likely to suffer an earworm attack. Kellaris also determined that songs with lyrics account for 73.7% of earworms and instrumental music may cause only 7.7% and while the frequency in men and women is equal the length of time that they last is much longer for a woman and much more irritating to them.

Ok so now we know what it is but what causes it? A study done by Vicky Williamson, University of London, found that earworms usually are correlated with music exposure. You remember that song you heard before getting out of your car, yup that one. They can also be triggered by “involuntary memory”, seeing a word or phrase that brings back a memory in the form of a musical lyric or simply melody. There are also stress related earworms. Most earworms are only 15 to 30 seconds in length. But are like a continuous loop that keeps playing over and over so they seem like they are much longer.

So how do we get rid of them? Some say that doing complex tasks that keep the brain engaged will get rid of an earworm. Or singing the melody to completion. One study even suggest chewing gum, although I do that all the time and still keep singing. What about thinking of another song, well that could work or be your next earworm. No one really knows how to make them go away. But if you have any suggestions I’m sure the rest of us really want to know.

So for now all I can say is… I can’t get no satisfaction… it’s a small world after all…bali hai…hello dolly…oooooklahoma….oooga chaka….

February 10, 2016

Orphan Band Instruments

By C Jean

Ever wonder what happens to all of the musical instruments that were once played by high school band musicians, only to be put in storage following graduation and never played again? When one considers how small a minority of high school band musicians continue to play their instrument after graduation and beyond, there must be many thousands of high quality band instruments stashed away in closets, basements and attics never to be played again and orphaned from the world of music.

How many of the people you knew from your high school band still play their instrument(s)? Probably very few still play. We can break it down statistically by assuming that the average high school band in Southern California has or had around 100 members and that about 20% of the band members played school instruments. That leaves 80 students supplying their own instruments. If we also assume that only 20% of the students supplying their own instruments continue to play after high school, that leaves 64 out of 100 people who never play again.

Now to be fair, at least 20% of the final 64 former musicians were renting an instrument so only 51 people would still own an instrument they no longer use. However, at least 20% of the remaining 51 people purchased an upgrade instrument sometime during their high school music career. That means we're likely back up to 61 surplus band instruments every four years from every single high school in Southern California alone. If there are around 500 high schools from San Diego to Santa Barbara, then over 30,000 band instruments become orphans every four years or about 7,500 every year just in Southern California.

Yes, some of these instruments get handed down to siblings or later to offspring. Let's generously assume that is the case 50% of the time. That would still mean that over 3,700 instruments are "orphaned" every year. If we further assume that at least half of those are still in good condition, then almost 2,000 usable orphaned instruments might be stashed away every year. When you consider that those musicians still playing have already enjoyed a musical career of an average duration of 30 years, then that means there could potentially be as many as 60,000 high quality/condition band instruments placed in storage just in our own lifetime.

Of course one might argue that people would sell their used instruments once they realize someone else could make use of it but most are not sold due an asking price that is too high. After all, that lightly used instrument was expensive when new and should still command a high price. However, most consumers would rather buy a new instrument at twice the price rather than risk purchasing an instrument of "unknown" (at least to them) quality. The irony is that the quality of the older instrument is often much better than that of the "new" instrument. The consumer just doesn't know it. Even more of these instruments are never sold due purely to emotional attachment.

Yes, you can find a handful of band instruments in various pawnshops or music stores may take a few instruments as trade-ins or even outright buy really good used instruments, however, if you look closely at most pawnshop specimens you will see that they've been there a long time and are usually overpriced as if they were collectibles. Music stores also have a difficult time unloading used instruments unless a buyer who knows the reputation and/or value of the instrument can be found. One might also think that the invention of internet sales might have helped reduce this problem but a recent query of E-Bay showed over 13,000 new instruments for sale versus only a little over 3,000 used instruments. This means that the used market is less than 20% of the total instrument market. So, assuming that at least 20% of the 60,000 possible orphan band instruments are resold through pawnshops, music stores and on-line sales, that still leaves some 48,000 instruments doing nothing but collecting dust in the homes of Southern California for the past 30 years. Far too many orphan band instruments when you think about it. Now what about orphan orchestral instruments, percussion and guitars? Worse, how many pianos are sold as furniture?!?

December 24, 2015

My 50 Piece Family

by H Palikan

Well, here we are, at the end of another year. All the holidays and festivities usually make us think about family.

Families come in more shapes, sizes and configurations than ever before. There’s my family – Mom and 2 brothers, niece & nephew in North Carolina, Dad and Step-mom in Texas, nephews in Missouri and of course, Polly here with me in California. Then there is my husband’s side of the family, brother, sister, nieces and nephew, which are local to us in California.

Then, there are the various aunts, uncles, & cousins. There are mixed families, blended families and the family members you wish you didn’t have to claim.

But in my little world, there is another type of family. My band family – all the members of the Golden West Pops. It’s a funny thing about “band” people. When I was in 8th Grade, we moved to Mainz, Germany for 2 ½ years. Dad was in the Army and it was time for an overseas tour. We arrived in Germany right about the 1st of the year which meant we started after the Christmas break at new schools. I don’t know if you changed schools growing up, but you spend the first days trying to fit in and going from class to class answering questions about what have you learned on this subject, have you already covered this type of math, what do you know about…until you step into band class. The band director asks what part you play, have a seat, here’s the music, let’s go. That’s it, you are instantly in a group of like-minded people, all singing the same tune, or in this case playing the same song. The rest of the day, week, years, you see band people in the halls and they’re your friends.

You make other friends over time but then, for an Army Brat, it’s time to move again and the whole process starts over. Until you walk into band class…

While I haven’t played an instrument since my junior year in high school and only briefly helped out with percussion during the holidays a year or two with the Pops, I have a room full of family members whenever I step into anyplace that involves the Golden West Pops. Rehearsals, concerts, parties, family members.

Now, I wouldn’t have my band family if it wasn’t for my sister, Polly. She leads this wonderful group of people to make the wonderful music they share with all of you. So I guess that leads me right back to my family.

Happy Holidays - From All Of My Families To Yours

October 1, 2015

Travelling With the Pops

by B Hammond

Well, it’s that time of year again. Yep, you got it; the annual “Traveling with the Pops” edition of the newsletter. Where shall we go this year? Let’s spin the globe. . . . and well, it looks like we’re back on Maui! Aloha‼ Actually we’re revisiting for a special occasion, my daughter’s wedding. Hmmm, let’s see, as we get off the plane I see those roosters again and I immediately think of the Golden West Pops playing “Roosters Lay Eggs in Kansas”, but there has to more to this adventure than revisiting all the same songs in my memory from last year’s trip. As our wise conductor, Pollyanna Gorman, would say, “We’re going to change it up this year,” or “What is our theme for this concert?” Well my theme is “wedding bliss”, but I can’t think of any songs that the Golden West Pops has in their repertoire for a wedding. Instead here I sit as I watch my daughter on this special day, surrounded by family and friends. As the ceremony begins I’m sure I hear a flute duet, but I know my GWP friends are not here. When the minister blows the conch shell, I hear Polly playing the French horn. The ceremony continues and as I look around I smiles and tears and I realize that although my GWP friends are not physically here, I know they are here in the true Hana Spirit. Hana in Hawaiian means family. You see, one might think being a part of a musical group is just for the music. WRONG! Over the past 12 years the Golden West Pops has experienced the joy of members becoming new parents and grandparents as well, new and exciting jobs, loss of jobs and the unfortunate loss of members whom we can say were dear friends, but I’ve come to realize this group is my family. They support me as a musician, a mom, wife, teacher and are generally concerned about me. After returning from Maui, so many shared in the laughter of my experience with a Chameleon, thanks to Face Book (and one of my band family), others were a part of our wedding celebrations at home, while others asked about the newlyweds and how they were doing. So as you can see, on this trip I may not have been thinking about all the songs in our repertoire, but I can assure you I was thinking about family; ALL of my family.

If you would like to come and spend time with our family and enjoy the love and laughter, come see us at our Holiday concert on December 12, 2015. Mark your calendar and keep an eye out on our website at for more details.

I assure you next year as I begin my summer adventures, my family, old and new, will be with me. Oh, and by the way, I contacted Webster’s Dictionary and the next time you look up the definition to family you will see this:

                                    family : noun fam·i·ly \ˈfam-lē,

                                    1. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered

                                    as a group, whether dwelling together or not

                                    2. any member or part of a member’s household associated with the

                                    Golden West Pops

July 31, 2015

More Talent than Just Playing Music!

by C Franchi

Every year the Orange County Faire comes to town and the Golden West Pops has the opportunity to perform in one of its many stages.  This year we had the opportunity to perform in the Hangar building on Sunday July 26th.   Bright and early we all arrived, set up and performed for the gathering crowd.  As usual it was a big hit.  And the band had a great time. 

As our time for performing ended we disbursed to wander thru the fair and enjoy the many exhibits, eat exotic fair foods and of course my favorite thing, shopping.   Leaving the Hangar building we wandered upon the first building, the Arts and Crafts.  I consider myself crafty and so with thoughts of “what can I make” I started thru looking at all the wonderful items on display.  I was walking along I happened upon a display case and what do I see but a really beautiful and unique carousel horse, well giraffe actually, done in “Tatting”.  I remember my grandma used to do this wonderful needle work and it is so fun seeing such creative items on display.  And look it won 2nd place, how wonderful for the maker.  Who is it that made such a beautiful little piece?  So I look at the display card and I see a name that is very familiar to me.  What?  It’s Kathy Lowe!  She’s our principal French Horn Player!!!  Kathy has won many ribbons at numerous county fairs throughout California for her beautiful needle work.  Wow, how great she won again.  So who won first?  As I made my way around the little glass case I found the 1st place winner.  And again, Kathy Lowe!   She created a wonderful little lace doily just like my grandma used to do.  So Kathy beat herself out for 1st place.  How funny is that!

So on I wandered thru the maze of exhibits looking at the many fine entries.  On one of the tables I spotted a lovely Seahorse.  It caught my eye because of how pretty and delicate it was.  I really wanted to get a better look.  As I got closer I saw that not only did it win 1st Place in its division, Bobbin Lace, but it too was created by none other than, Kathy Lowe!  I should have guessed.  Who else can create such beauty with such fine needle work. 

As I moved on to the other side of the room I passed by a cute little hat.  Well actually Mickey Mouse ears.  But these weren’t just any old Mickey Ears.  These depicted “Lady” on one side and the “Tramp” on the other.  How cleaver!  And “Lady and the Tramp” is one of my favorite Disney features.  So of course I moved in for a closer look.  It won 1st Place!   But wait!  Who made this?  Karen Dean!  She’s our lead trombone player’s wife.  And this is the first time she has entered anything into this division.  First time out and wins 1st Place.  How cool is that.

Now I’m really excited because I know somewhere in the Collections Building Karen has another entry.  So I’m on a quest.  I move quickly past the many food displays, thru the wine tasting, past the Big Turkey legs and into the garden section.  A beeline straight into the Collections building brings me to my goal.  There in the corner display case on the top shelf is Karen’s incredible entry.  A “Trombone Tribute to my Husband”.  A collection of items all having something to do with the Trombone.  Kelly Dean our lead trombone player is a fabulous musician and what a better way to pay tribute to his talents than this little display.  And look!  Another 1st Place award for Karen.  

A complete tour of the building brings me to one more entry, it didn’t win an award but it is still a winner in our book for just being there.  A cute little collection of Hedgehogs.  I like Hedgehogs.  :p>

Well I’m done with my quest to find these beautiful treasures.  So on with my day at the fair.  Pig races, carnival rides and shopping for things I didn’t need.  Congrats ladies for your many wins.  Wait, didn’t I pass the Giant Texas Donut place!  Fireball Donut here I come!!!

June 1, 2015


by J LaRosa

Theologians and scientists can’t agree if life crawled out of a primordial soup, was created by an omnipotent being or beamed down from a passing asteroid, but one thing is clear, once it arrived it constantly transformed.  We, as human beings, are not immune to this process.  Our existence from the moment of our birth is a series of changes, renewals, and passages.  There are milestones eagerly anticipated and soon passed and forgotten.  Other milestones leave indelible marks on our lives causing us to either rejoice in our achievements or marvel at our mere existence.  We approach these milestones with a mixture of emotions.  Some, like signposts on a desert highway, loom inconsequentially in our path and are left behind us unremarkably, others pounce on us unexpectedly and leave us never the same.  The Golden West Pops has experienced a quick succession of these passages in the last couple of months which leave us with mixed emotions but also forever changed.

This month, with conflicted feelings, we congratulate two of our members as they make the passage from high school and into college.  Eric Hernandez and Leticia Charco joined our group a few years ago as part of our ongoing cooperation with Century High School in Santa Ana.  After a joint concert, both Eric and Leticia, decided they wanted to become full time members of the Pops; Eric on saxophone and Leticia on clarinet.  This month they both graduate from Century High School.  Eric will become an Anteater at the University of California, Irvine and Leticia, an Aggie, at University of California, Davis.  We wish them all the best in their college endeavors.

The other transitions were less expected.  In quick succession two band members escaped their mortal coil and went on to whatever lies waiting for us after life.  Fred Wagner left us due to complications with Leukemia and Tim Newhouse died from a sudden heart attack. 

Fred, a clarinet player, had only been with us a short while but threw himself into that which is the Pops enthusiastically and rarely missed neither a performance nor a rehearsal.  He immersed himself into the Pops with same passion he showed to many of his diverse interests.   Fred was quick to cover a solo or double on another instrument, doing whatever was needed.

Tim, a French horn player, was a founding member of the Pops and a long time close friend of many of the members.  Tim has played with members of the Pops from before there was a Pops, back in the Golden West College days.  Tim was a dedicated band member and seemed to be always in the thick of whatever needed to be done.  His humor, quiet patience, and friendship will be missed.  Tim was a core member of the Pops family.

The Pops will go on; better for having these gifted, faithful, and devoted individuals touching our lives and enriching us with their presence.

March 26, 2015

Reflecting on the Journey

by M Zimmer

She lived with regret. I didn't know. If you watched her banter with band mates as they unloaded equipment from her well cared for X5, you wouldn't detect a sense of regret. As she diligently set up her kit for rehearsal or a concert, there would be no sign of disappointment. But, it was there.

It wasn't the overwhelming, crippling regret that consumes your life. It was the frequent sense of disappointment while going about daily life. "I missed my opportunity." "I wish I had."
Until one morning, eating breakfast at her home in Long Beach, perusing the Press Telegram, her sense of regret first turned to incredulous hope. Hope turned to determination and finally to excitement. "I'm going to do it." she resolved. That morning, the Press Telegram included an advertisement inviting people over the age of 50 to an orientation to learn about serving in the Peace Corps and, in that moment, Pamela James resolved, "I'm going to do it. I'm going to finally serve in the Peace Corps."

In High School, Pamela (or as I like to call her, Pam-Pam) was a talented musician and leader. She was first chair cornet, band president, and All-State participant. She also loved John Kennedy and had a deep desire to join the Peace Corps. The plan was to join after college, which by the way, is when she stopped playing her cornet. However, after earning her degree in International Relations, she seized upon the opportunity of a lifetime and travelled to Switzerland. There, at the University of Lausanne, just outside of Geneva, she studied for 2 years and earned her master's degree in French. From there she returned to the states, took a great job in New York and she stayed for one year before moving to Manhattan Beach, CA where several of her best friends from college had settled. Slowly life passed by and the hope of joining the Peace Corps transformed into regret. After all, the Peace Corps is for those young college kids, not the middle aged and definitely not for those over 50.

Imagine Pam-Pam's excitement as she noticed the ad for the Peace Corps that morning in 2005. Her faded dream was once again within reach. It was 7 years from the time she saw that ad to the time she left for Cameroon, Africa. Clearing her schedule and finding a time to go was the biggest challenge, but then the actual application and preparation process took an entire year. But she looked forward to the ruggedness of living overseas, being immersed in another culture, and helping others. She finally left in June of 2012 and returned to the states in August of 2014.

Looking back, she most enjoyed meeting the many and varied Peace Corps volunteers. Most of them were in their 20s and Pam-Pam enjoyed bonding with them over new, mutual experiences while sharing the wisdom that only years of life experience can bring. She met hundreds of volunteers but bonded with about 20, who she still keeps in touch with. Skype was, and is, the lynch pin in keeping contact. About once every two-weeks, Pam-Pam would take the 30 minute journey into the regional capital where she could utilize the marvels of modern technology at the Peace Corps office, which included free Wi-Fi, conversations and encouragement amongst friends.

Pam-Pam was surprised at how long it took to get anything done. For the most part, the locals had no sense of deadlines, appointments or punctuality. The culture is dominated by a sense of entitlement and corruption. People in leadership expect bribes and kick-backs while the villagers want you to give them everything for nothing. Therefore, charitable efforts which, provide assistance without strings attached, have given the villagers little incentive to "learn how to fish."

Pam-Pam had arrived with big ideas and soon realized that she had to do small things. The concept of "volunteerism" was non-existent and it took Pam-Pam time to build trust with the local villagers who suspected she had a hidden agenda and was waiting for her reward. She had to come up with her own plan to assist the villagers who didn't even know what they needed. Pam-Pam chose to focus on Small Business Enterprise and taught business classes.

Pam-Pam is most proud of the chicken farm she started in her last 9 months in Cameroon. She organized a weekend seminar on AIDS prevention so that she could receive a Women's Health and Dignity grant from, as Pam-Pam puts it, "Obama." With that money, she started a women only business raising chickens. Pam-Pam and her 5 business partners all worked the farm. They had weekly meetings where the ladies learned business basics, like reinvesting your profit back into your business, a foreign concept. Raising chickens in the harsh environment of Cameroon (high heat, little water in the dry-season and aggressive, flesh eating ants to name a few factors) is no easy chore. Despite the challenges, when Pam-Pam left, they were raising 200 chickens in a 45 day cycle. The last Pam-Pam heard, they were up to about 300.

Returning to the states, Pam-Pam realized that she was a different person and she didn't like herself. She had become tough, aggressive, defensive. Two years of making things happen and she realized, "I had become mean." People here were so welcoming and friendly. She was surprised at how late it stayed light. She returned in August during daylight savings time, which is not observed in Cameroon. The sky seemed bigger. The weather was amazing. She realized she missed playing her drums. When she returned to the Golden West Pops in January, I thought to myself, "It's like she was never gone!" Little did I know that she had "Practiced her 'backside' off." For a month prior, she had practiced 2-3 hours a day, seven days a week. She thinks she came back a better player than when she left and, quite frankly, I agree.

Pam-Pam had played in a couple different groups before her trip but she has only returned to the Pops. She missed the sense of camaraderie and family. "The band was very supportive of me while I was gone and that is a big part of why I came back." She enjoyed the cards and the care packages. She knew lots of different people had contributed and was grateful. The highlight was the portable solar shower. It was a luxury, especially during the dry season where she would live on 8 gallons of water for two weeks, but a luxury she made sure to enjoy when she could.

So, the next time you see Pamela James, remind yourself to not give up on your dream. You too can turn that nagging sense of regret into "I'm going to do it" and ultimately into, "I did it!"

If you want to read more about Pam-Pam's adventure in Cameroon, be sure to check out her blog:

January 8, 2015

Song of Hope and Peace

by J Brennan

2014 was another banner year for the Golden West Pops under the direction of Ms. Pollyanna Gorman,   The band closed out the year with our annual holiday concert, which included an arrangement of "Happy Xmas (the war is over)."

This is a tune authored by John Lennon and spouse Yoko One (thought it is felt that Ono's contribution was minimal) as a protest some against the Viet Nam war, and was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by the authors.

 The composition elaborated on the themes of social unity and peaceful change enacted through personal accountability and empowerment.

 Upon debut, the recording met with luke-warm success in the US but was immediately successful in the UK.

 The song has been widely covered by other artists such as Andy Williams, Diana Ross, Jimmy Buffet, Sarah Brightman, and Jessica Simpson as well as various ensembles representative of a myriad of genres.

On a personal note, the song is a poignant reminder of the fact that many of our fellow Americans are engaged in combat far from home under the most adverse of circumstances.  "Happy Xmas" is certainly a goal for which we can all pray.

December 8, 2014

The Christmas Carol

by C Franchi

December is here and it means so many things. As an accountant it means preparation for year-end entries and upcoming audits. A tremendous amount of work and long hours. But as a musician it is one of my favorite times of the year. Why you ask? Well, when else do I get to play and perform some of the most beautiful and meaningful music ever written. Well in my opinion anyway.

I know, you’re saying, “what is she talking about? She plays all kinds of music all year long!” Of course I’m talking about my namesake music. THE CHRISTMAS CAROL!!! And there are sooo many, old classics and the new more modern melodies that have become traditions in their own right.

The origins of the CHRISTMAS CAROL go way back. Thousands of years ago pagan songs were sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy, so these were sung while people danced round stone circles. The Christians took over the ritual but most of their songs were in Latin so no one really liked or understood them. So the practice sort of died off.

In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi started his “Nativity Plays” and the “Canticles” told the story. These were in the language of the people so they could sing along. These new carols spread throughout Europe and became very popular. The Puritans stopped these celebrations in 1647 but the songs survived as people sung them in secret. The tradition of Christmas Caroling came along when bands of people called “Waits” would sing on Christmas Eve when the Christmas Celebrations began. At the same time orchestras and choirs became the rage in England and people wanted songs to sing. So the CHRISTMAS CAROL once again became popular. The custom of singing in the streets was all the rage as was “carols by candlelight”. My family still holds the tradition of going Christmas caroling on Christmas Eve. We all wear silly hats and go door to door singing all the old classic Christmas carols. What joy it brings to all those we sing to and to us as well.

As for playing these wonderful tunes? Well I get the privilege of performing with my Golden West Pops family every year for all of you. And I can’t wait. This year we will sing and dance (well maybe Polly will) and have “carols by candlelight”. All the joys and traditions of the season. And don’t forget Hanukkah!

I sure hope you join us. It will keep my holiday traditions alive. And maybe you will make us a tradition of yours.

September 22, 2014

Tripping With The Pops

by B Hammond

As I began my summer adventure, I found myself sitting in the airport staring out the window at an empty space. Where was the plane! Instead of going into panic mode, I began to hum songs to soothe myself. Then I began to miss my Golden West Pops family, so naturally the musician inside me dug deep into my musical library and thought “what song would our fearless conductor pull out?” The plane arrived, late of course, I boarded, sat in my seat and peered out the window. I know! The perfect song came to mind; “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane. . . “ Ahh, much better now. My first summer adventure would begin in Whistler, Canada to celebrate my 50th birthday with my longtime friends from Washington. Girls gone wild we called it, but I think the proper song would be, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. What a beautiful place Whistler is. As we strolled through the village we came upon the Olympic rings and a spectacular stage. I grabbed my phone and began to dial Polly. What a perfect venue for The Golden West Pops to play. I knew exactly what she would want to play. Yep, pull out “Olympic Spirit”. I can hear the band resonating throughout the village! I was quickly brought back to reality when I thought about the transportation logistics. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. The next morning we headed up the mountain for a hike. What a hike it was. Not only was I humming “The Hills Are Alive. . . “, but I thought, “what would Polly come up with?” Got it, “Climb Every Mountain. . .” Whew – good thing I made it back from that trip in one piece because now it’s onto Hawaii! Maui to be precise. This adventure began at LAX of all places. As we were going through TSA my oldest daughter had a “star” attack. There he was, Jeff Goldblum.
“Mom, mom look! Mr. Jurassic Park!” she blurted out.
“Say hello”
“No” she shyly replied. When was this child ever shy?! So in my thoughts I imagined how to get his attention. I know; the Golden West Pops was playing “The Theme to Jurassic Park” in his honor!
“Hi Mr. Jeff!” announced my youngest daughter. Well, that’ll do it too.
As we enjoyed all that Maui had to offer I always had in my mind, “what song would Polly have the Golden West Pops play?” Let’s see. . . I’m sure to begin with; “Hawaii Five-O”. As we left the airport, the girls noticed roosters everywhere. Got it! - - “Roosters Lay Eggs in Kansas”. Wow, thought I put that song in the vault! Standing in the open mouth of a great white at the Maui Ocean Center, yep, you guessed it; “Jaws”! Arrggh – still gives me the creeps. Let’s find something more entertaining. How about while snorkeling and SNUBA diving at Molokini we hear “Under the Sea”. I can hear that xylophone solo bouncing off the water as the girls have fun trying to swim like mermaids, but that is cut short by: Daa da, daa da, da da da da da da da da STOP!!! No more JAWS! I’m out of the water! That evening I enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the beach and I know Polly would pull her favorite out for this picture; “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I know, I know, we’re in Hawaii, but hey – this is my musical adventure. Stay with me. After making it through Hurricane Isabelle we awoke to a beautiful double rainbow. That’s right folks, here it comes, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow. . . “Judy Garland would sing her heart out at this sight. My adventure has not ended yet. Onto San Diego. I took my nephew to the Sea World Aquatica Park. What a blast. As I floated in the wave pool I imagined the Golden West Pops playing “Big Fun In the Sun” and the waves were great to ride as I heard “Wipeout” in my mind. The next day we experienced the San Diego Safari Park. So many animals to see, but the grandest of all; the big cats. Come on, you know what we would play. That’s right – “The Lion King”. This summer has been thrills around every corner, on the go and a bit chaotic. Sometimes I felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. Do we have a song for that? As the summer has drawn to a close, I’m onto my last and probably most difficult adventure. This adventure is also known as The Empty Nest syndrome! Yes, I am sending my youngest daughter off to college. Not sure what song Polly would pull out for this one, but I am sure that “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has got to be in there somewhere. My husband seems to be acting funny as I hear him walking around the house humming the Hallelujah Chorus. I’m sure I must be wrong. My summer was full of grand adventures, but I’m always grateful to come home to my Golden West Pops family. Come join us this Holiday Season as it’s “on with the show”.

July 6, 2014/a>

Summer 2014 

by L Jean

The Golden West Pops had a wonderful concert on 7/6 at Shepherd’s Grove in Garden Grove. We were very excited to perform at this new location. We had a wonderfully appreciative audience! We performed some great Patriotic music amongst other tunes: The National Emblem March, America the Beautiful, Amazing Grace, Hawaii Five O, God Bless the USA and of course Stars & Stripes Forever with Piccolo soloists Carol & Lori. What a terrific job they did… it sounded beautiful in the church. One of our favorites is Armed Forces: The Pride of America, this song is always a favorite of mine. I get to look around the audience and see all the military members stand during their song. It always gives me goose bumps! A huge Thank You to ALL our service Men & Women. Thank you to Shepherd’s Grove Church, we hope to be back for more concerts.

If you missed that concert you can see us this weekend at the Orange County Fair! We will be performing on Sunday 7/20 at 11:15 AM on the Plaza Arts Stage. Come on down and enjoy our wonderful music.

The Golden West Pops has another concert coming up soon: On Sunday 8/17 at 11:00 AM at the Tustin Boys & Girls Club Car Show at Enderle Center in Tustin. Come on down and listen to our entertaining music and look at some great cars too.

June 8, 2014

OC Can You Play? Why YES, The POPS CAN!

by C Franchi

Yup that’s me and the Maestro

Pollyanna Gorman – Conductor Golden West Pops

Steve Maurer - Oboe
As a member of the Golden West Pops I get some great opportunities to play in the Orange County music community. Like many of my Pops family members I play with various groups on a regular basis, I myself am in three different OC ensembles with a few side gigs every once in a while. Our Conductor is very encouraging as this keeps the “old chops” up and in mint playing condition.
Dennis McNutt – String Bass

Janis Chamoun – Timpani
Kathy Lowe-French Horn
For the past four years there has been one opportunity that has come to those of us “amateurs” by way of the Pacific Symphony. In May many members of the Pops had the unique chance to play side by side with the members of the Pacific Symphony for one night of rehearsal and performance under the direction of Carl St. Clare.

What a night it was, well actually two. Since this event was started it has grown so much that now there are two nights with two sessions each night to allow all the musicians who are picked to perform some very challenging music. This year the Pops had 10 of its members on stage and performing. And each of us had the time of our lives.

Not all of us got to play in the same session but we all were able to take part with friends and members of other groups from all over Orange County and beyond. All in all there were representatives from so many different groups. Concert Bands and Orchestras were represented and I saw so many faces that I knew. But I was able to meet some new ones and share an evening with some really fine musicians.

It was an incredible experience and one that I won’t ever forget. But the best part was that I got to share it with my Pops family. Am I looking forward to next year? YOU BET!
John Lowe - Trombone (2nd from left)
Carl Steutzel – Trumpet (center)
Bruce Mills – Trumpet (2nd from left)
Frank Heinrichs - Trumpet (2nd from right)

May 7, 2014

Century High School and the Golden West Pops

by H Palikan

For the 3rd year in a row, the Golden West Pops will join the Century High School Concert Band in their end of the school year concert on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

This is a unique concert for the Pops and the students from Century High. Each group normally would perform on its own. For this concert, the students play music selected by their Conductor and Teacher, Mr. Scott Devoe. Then, the Golden West Pops play music selected by their conductor, Miss Pollyanna Gorman. For the final number, both groups are combined, with students sitting next to members of the Pops who give advice and reassurance to the students. There is a rehearsal the week before so students and Pops members can get to know each other and rehearse under the direction of Pollyanna. Students, parents, family and friends of both groups are encouraged to attend this free performance and show their support for everyone.

How did all of this get started you might ask? Scott has been a member of the Golden West Pops for 3 years, teaching music for 7 years and playing Tuba for 11 years. He wanted to show his students and their parents that they could continue playing music after high school so he asked the Pops to join the students for one concert in 2012. He asked the Southern California Philharmonic to play with his Orchestra class as well. The rest, as they say, is history. The students and member of the Pops thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

While rehearsing the 2013 concert, Pollyanna offered the students from Century High the opportunity to join the Golden West Pops for the summer season. Two students, Eric Hernandez and Jose Cortes, took her up on the offer and joined the Pops for the 2013 Summer Season. As the summer drew to a close, both students asked if they could continue with the Pops while attending school. Everyone agreed they could, as long as their grades were kept up. Leticia Charco from Century joined October 2013.

Eric and Jose both play Alto Saxophone and are in 11th Grade. They have been playing sax for 8 & 7 years respectively. In addition to Alto Sax, Eric plays Piano and Viola; Jose plays Soprano, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones. Leticia plays clarinet.

All 3 students auditioned for the Santa Ana Unified School District Honor Band and were chosen to participate in this years’ performance. Each played a pre-selected piece, scales and a piece they had to sight read. The Honor Band performed Foundry by John Mackey, Rain by Brian Balmages and The Machine Awakes by Steven Bryant. In The Machine Awakes, the band played along with a computer making sounds.

The students felt the best part of the experience was the actual performance, playing with more experienced musicians and working on the details that make a piece great. For Scott, the best part was learning from the guest conductor, Gregory X. Whitmore. The downside to participating in Honor Band was the “long, long, LONG practices”, something that all musicians can understand.

When asked if there were any other thoughts or comments, Jose stated: “I appreciate all of the Golden West Pops for allowing us students to play with you guys. You guys are great and know how to make us feel welcome.” From Scott: “Allowing CHS students to participate in the GWP has given them the skills needed to be some of the best instrumentalist in the district. This collaboration has been extremely valuable to the CHS instrumental music program and its students. Thank you!!!!”

Eric and Jose plan to continue playing after high school. Eric is even considering Majoring in Music in college. We hope they stay with the Golden West Pops as well.

March 6, 2014

GWPops Inaugurate Ensemble Festival

by J LaRosa

The Golden West Pops opened the inaugural Community Ensembles Festival hosted by Orange County’s Pacific Symphony at Segerstrom Concert Hall. On February 8th, 2014 the Pops along with seven other groups from Orange County joined the Pacific Symphony in this day long celebration of community music-making.
The event consisted of each group taking the stage and presenting a thirty minute mini-concert before an audience of family, friends, and interested community members. In addition, two principle musicians from the symphony were also in the audience as adjudicators. At the completion of each performance each group went back stage with one of the adjudicators to hear feedback on their performance.
"There is nothing more energizing than getting to play in a concert hall of such high caliber, especially one that is gorgeous both aesthetically and acoustically. It is also always helpful to get feedback from new sources, and we are thrilled to have Pacific Symphony musicians participate as the panel of adjudicators” explained Molly Pontin, the Symphony’s director of arts participation. The Pop’s enthusiastically agrees that it was both a thrilling and educational experience and look forward to being invited back in the future.
The festival was part of the Symphony’s “OC Front and Center” program which is a way of showcasing local community talent. Other events included in the program were a violin master class and a live taping of Christopher O’Riley’s NPR show, “From the Top,” in January. The event was generously underwritten by the James Irvine Foundation. In May the Symphony will also be sponsoring “OC Can You Play”, an event where individual musicians from the community can join in a performance in the concert hall under the direction of Pacific Symphony’s Director, Carl St. Clair.

January 2, 2014

Holiday Favorites

by J Brennan

In case anyone was sleeping last month, the Golden West Pops--under the baton of Polly Gorman, played a terrific concert!  One of the melodies that the band performed was a carol entitled "The Holly and the Ivy.
This tune is an old English carol dating back to at least the 15th century.  The symbolism of the holly, which was considered sacred by the druids, is associated with the winter solstice and European holly associated with Christmas.  
The piece of music in the Golden West Pops library is an arrangement by Chip Davis, founder of the group Mannheim Steamroller.  Chip Davis was unable to find a label that would handle the distribution of his music, so founded his own--the name coming from an 18th century German musical technique.  
Above info culled from "Wikipedia" which lists all of the recordings of the group including the albums ratings on the Billboard charts and 'gold' status.  
Happy new--and God bless the band.

December 1, 2013

What A Year!

by H Palikan

Here we are, at the end of our 10th year.  What a year it has been. 
We started the year with our Sneak Peak concert in March at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, CA.  Our wonderful photographer, Ian Wiant from iPhotography Studio took our official 10th Anniversary pictures.  (On our website home page, if you click on Polly’s head, you can see some of our antics.)  We also started our Logo Photo Contest.  Click on the spinning globe on the home page of our website to see where our logo has been.
In April, we took the band on tour to Palm Springs.  We performed at Carrillo Rancho Magnet School for the 5th and 6th Graders that were just starting in their band program.  After we played a few songs, we invited them to talk to the musicians, ask questions and learn more about the instruments.  Our percussion section was the big hit with the kids.  As it turned out, our trip to Palm Springs happened to fall on my birthday.  I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate.   The band had planned a surprise party and concert for me that night at a family member’s home.  We played for the neighborhood then ate pizza, salad and cupcakes in the backyard; truly a memorable birthday for me.  Our Sunday concert was at the Marilyn Monroe statue in Downtown Palm Springs.  Although it was about 100°, we made it through, entertaining the good folks of Palm Springs.
We had the opportunity to work with the kids from Century High School in Santa Ana again in May.  A rehearsal one week and the concert the next week were so much fun we now have 4 Century High students playing with us full time. 
I’m not sure how anyone else spends Father’s Day, but I know the GW Pops like spending it at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach.  We performed our annual Father’s Day concert Sunday afternoon to a wonderful crowd.
The Pops performed as part of the Huntington Beach Concerts In The Park series on August 18th.  We celebrated “Spirit of ’45” Day with patriot songs and our signature Pops music. 
We continued our patriotic theme with our last concert of the season in September at Bella Terra where we had a great crowd.  Our sing-along was led by Cambria Hernandez who did such a good job, she’ll be back in December to lead our Christmas Carol sing-along.
We’ll round out our year with 2 holiday concerts; one at Bella Terra on Saturday, December 7 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.  Be sure to come by and see the “snow” and bring a toy for the Marines Toys For Tots drive.  Our formal Holiday Concert is on Saturday, December 14 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Orange County First Assembly of God, 1440 E Santa Clara Ave.  Santa Ana, California.  We’ll all be dressed in our finest but you never know what may happen.

November 1, 2013

Sleigh Ride

by L Jean

Just a few people know how I love the music Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson!           I truly LOVE playing it at Christmas time. I can’t really say why…I just do. I don’t believe any Christmas or Holiday concert is complete without it. I also believe my husband, Chris, plays the best horse whinny ever heard.

Sleigh Ride was composed by Leroy Anderson during a heat wave in July 1946 completing it in 1948. Lyrics were added in 1950 by Mitchell Parrish.  Mr. Anderson never intended for Sleigh Ride to become a Christmas piece. He envisioned the whole winter season with folks out for a sleigh ride. As a matter of fact Christmas is never mentioned in the lyrics. People probably just liked the idea of  it becoming a Christmas song because of some of the lyrics…”sleigh bells jingling”, “outside the snow is falling”, “We’re riding in a wonderland of snow”, and “It’s lovely weather for a Sleigh Ride together with you”.

So come on down to our two Holiday Concerts this year and hear the Golden West Pops playing Sleigh Ride. Saturday 12/7  6:00 PM at Bella Terra Mall, Huntington Beach and Saturday 12/14  at 7:00 PM at Orange County First Assembly of God Church 1440 E. Santa Clara Ave, Santa Ana.

See you all there!


August 07, 2013

Golden West Pops plans patriotic set for summer concert
Band's conductor says the group is all about family and having fun performing. The group will play as part of the Huntington Beach Concert Band's Summer Series.

by Brittany Woolsey - Huntington Beach Independent

"Fun" was the word that Pollyanna Gorman repeated when she described Golden West Pops.
"We have a lot of fun performing," said Gorman, the group's conductor and executive director. "We play fun music, and we really are a family."
Golden West Pops will play a mix of genres and songs Sunday evening as part of the Huntington Beach Concert Band's Summer Series.
The band mostly plays "pops" music, Gorman said.
"We usually play a lot of medleys and recognizable pieces that really engage the audience," she said, adding that Golden West Pops has pieces from "Wicked," Andrew Lloyd Webber and Queen in its repertoire. The band also consists of mostly wind instruments, like flutes, oboes and clarinets, along with various percussion and basses.
Sunday's event has been designated Spirit of '45 Day, in keeping with the national event of the same name honoring the legacy of the World War II generation, and Gorman said the band will play songs to recognize the veterans.
Tunes like "The Homefront" and "Midway March," along with other pops pieces like "Tennessee Salute" and "Amazing Grace," are on the set list.
Gorman said the band, now 40 members strong, began in 2003 when Golden West College ended its symphonic music program and some of the members sought a new place to perform.
"We decided we were not done making music together," she said.
Since then, the group has performed all over Orange County, including the Bella Terra shopping center and a car show in Tustin. It has also served as the pre-fireworks group at the Huntington Beach Fourth of July celebration and toured San Diego, Palm Springs and Cambria.
Golden West Pops has a "family-type" feel, Gorman said. She also said the group is self-funded and entirely made up of volunteers, including Gorman, who works at a mortgage company in Irvine.
"Being self-funded can be difficult," she said. "A lot of the venues that used to be able to pay us to perform have cut back due to the tough times we are all facing. But we persevere."
Gorman urges the public to attend Sunday's performance because, and here is that word again, it will be fun for the audience and the musicians, she said.
"This is going to be a really great show," she said. "We are a very patriotic group, and with this concert landing on the Spirit of '45 Day, I am really making the most of it."
If You Go
What: Golden West Pops
Where: Huntington Central Park behind the library, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Cost: Free
Information: or

May 18, 2013'

The GWP Invades Palm Springs!
The Chiropractic Tour

by M Zimmer

Well, by now you've hopefully visited our Gallery Page and checked out all the wild photos from our desert foray last month. We had a fabulous time touring Palm Springs, playing our instruments and entertaining the locals.

First of all, let's address "The Chiropractic Tour." The bus seems to have become the most memorable part of our trip. As we loaded the bus in our Golden West Pops tour shirts early Friday morning, we had no idea the fun that the bus would bring us. However, as we departed the Park and Ride, we began thinking that our driver was still getting used to the bus because he wasn't shifting very smoothly. The bus actually shifted so roughly that when our professional tour guide joined us for jaunt around the wind farms, he actually worked in jokes about the bus. Fortunately for our wonderful bus driver, yet unfortunately for us, the bus was an automatic. Yes indeed, a brand new bus with less than 4000 miles on it although, a bus that didn't know how to shift. So, we survived the bus the whole weekend and there was a slight uptick in the Orange County chiropractic industry the following week.

Well, enough about the bus, for now…

We had a wonderful time playing a concert at a magnet school in Indio for kids involved in the Arts. We played about an hour for kids in 4th and 5th grades who were just learning to play their instruments. We featured each instrument in different songs and at the end of the concert, the kids came up and talked to us about playing our instruments. I've never seen so many kids swarm the percussionists banging on the gong, pounding on the timpani and discovering all the wonderful weird noises that the "toys" can make.

After another concert in street in front of the house belonging to one of our member's dad, we had a surprise 50th birthday party for our fearless band assistant. We had tons of scrumptious pizza and what was more fitting for the cupcake queen herself, than the most scrumptious gourmet cupcakes I've ever tasted.

Saturday morning was filled with visiting the Palm Springs Tram, walking the Morton Gardens or hanging out at the hotel before a tour of the Wind Farms.

We spent Saturday evening at the Covered Wagon Dinner, once we arrived. You'll have to ask someone for the full story but the short story involves a bus problem that caused us to limp along to the side of the road, fixing that only to get lost, losing cell service, almost getting stuck in the sand and pulling a three point turn in the middle of nowhere. The dinner was great. The covered wagon tour of the wilderness was fun. The cowboy singing in all twelve keys at the same time was interesting but the most memorable part of the night was our Native American dancers, one of which wore butt-less chaps and a loin cloth. I found out later that he had forgot the bells for his ankles and now I wonder if he forgot his pants too or if he was just trying to stay cool. (Did I mention that we were there the two days that the Santa Ana winds decided to heat things up?)

Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and loaded up before  a  tour of the homes of the rich and famous. You wouldn't believe how many oleander hedges we were able to see along with the brief glimpses through the front gates. It was on this outing that our tour guide mentioned someone being thrown through a windshield. Of course, that was right after the bus made two huge downshifts heading down a hill.

We then did a concert at the Marilyn Monroe park, at noon… in the 100+ degree weather. We brought our own shade and 6 cases of water which helped us survive. We even got a picture of us all under Marilyn's skirt.

After a brief lunch with the dinosaurs, we made it back to the Park and Ride on time with no more major bus drama. All in all, I had a great time and I think our members did, too. Many thanks to Palm Springs for allowing the Golden West Pops of Orange County, California invade your town.


April 1, 2013'

10 Years Old, 1000 Years Experience and Taking to the Road
Golden West Pops Celebrate Decennial Anniversary

by Joe LaRosa

Costa Mesa, CA, March 19, 2013:  The 50 volunteer musicians comprising the Golden West Pops Concert Band commemorate their tenth anniversary with a full schedule of local concerts and a performing tour of the Palm Springs area.  The concert seasons kicks off with a warm up at Bella Terra Mall in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, March 27 and culminates with their annual Holiday Concert on December 14, 7:00 PM at Santa Ann First Assembly of God Church with at least a half dozen performances in between.  The band will also perform at the Carrillo Ranch Magnet School in Indio, Friday April 26th and a noon concert at the Marilyn Forever Statue in Palm Springs on Sunday, April 28th to round out their desert tour.

The Pops was formed September of 2003 out of necessity when the concert band program was discontinued at Golden West College and a group of displaced long time friends and fellow musicians looked for a new place to continue to perform together.  The Golden West Pops was founded with 33 original members of which, ten years later, 14 founding members continue to perform with the group including the conductor Pollyanna Gorman.  This wind ensemble is modeled after traditional “pops orchestras” and plays a variety of music ranging from popular music to show tunes, marches, as well as some well-known classical pieces.

The Golden West Pops are available to play at your private or community events.  They are comfortable playing in shirt sleeves under a tree or a tent or in full black tie at your formal event.  With a wide repertoire of music, a program can be tailored for your guests.  The group switches out their music for holiday music in the fall and would be an ideal compliment for your holiday event.  The group is a 501(c)3 corporation and you can obtain more information on how to join, book, or attend a local concert at


December 31, 2012'

Goldenwest Pops Close Out Another Great Year
by Carol Franchi

My conversation with the conductor…

 ME:  Great Concert, see you next week.
Conductor:   No rehearsal next week.  Remember?
ME:   What? But, why not?
Conductor:  We are done for the year.  Have a good holiday.  See you in 2013.
ME:   Oh… ok.  Yes, see you in 2013!
Well we have come to the end of the year.  The Mayan calendar is finished and so is our 2012 Season.  And what a great year it has been.  We started off slow in March, played our summer concerts for Bella Terra, the Boys and Girls Club of Tustin, several concerts in Downtown Huntington Beach and then debuted at the Summer Concert Series in Huntington Beach Central Park.  Played with the kids from Century High School and finished our year at the VA Hospital “Operation Santa” in Long Beach, where we played for veterans and their families who are in need.    
But our shining moment was our annual Holiday event at the Orange County First Assembly where we took our audience “Around the Word” with holiday music from over 15 countries.  We even got to share this wonderful moment with our families in other states via a live USTREAM presentation.  Available to all our fans from our website. 
So what’s on the horizon for 2013?  Well, we get to celebrate our 10th year together!   The Golden West Pops is having an anniversary party like no other.  And we want all of you, our friends and family, to be a part of it.  So here’s to a Happy Holiday and an incredible New Year! 
Be safe and we’ll see you at our 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2013!


December 3, 2012'

Holiday Greetings from Around the World

by Barbara Hammond

Looking for a grand adventure?  Searching for the sights and sounds of the season?  Well look no more. The Golden West Pops is set to put on their Annual Holiday Concert. The theme this year is “Holiday Greetings from around the World”.  You will be teleported from country to country while enjoying the sounds of the Golden West Pops as you hear the melodic sounds of pieces such as “Russian Christmas Music”, the mystic and gaiety of “A Celtic Carol”, pull up your boot straps for a real western treat with “Cowboy Christmas” and put on your dancing shoes for “We Wish You a Mambo Christmas”.


This year you will have the opportunity to enjoy this festive evening on December 8, 2012 at the Orange County First Assembly located at 1440 E. Santa Clara, Santa Ana, CA 92750. Doors open at 6:40pm and the show begins at 7pm. Tickets are available at the door or online at  Adults are $10, Seniors (60+) and Students are just $8.  No matter what you choose this Holiday Season, we hope to see you at our concert.  Come be filled with joy, travel with us on the spectacular journey and kick off your Holiday Season with loads fun!


May 10, 2012'

Century High School Joins Pops for Combined Concert

by Carol Franchi

The Golden West Pops is excited to announce it will be “joining forces”  with the Century High School  music program in presenting their annual Spring Concert, Wed May 23, 2012. 
Century High School, located in Santa Ana, CA is home to a wide variety of musical groups including the Marching and Concert Band, Jazz Band and Orchestras.  In April the school Drama and Music programs put on their first musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  Members of the Golden West Pops were enlisted to play in the pit orchestra along with students and teachers from the school.  Mr. R Scott DeVoe, music teacher at the school, is a member of the Pops playing in their tuba section.   He has asked the GWPops to be a part of this year’s  final concert of the year.   As an adult community group the GWPops is hoping to show that life beyond high school is a great place for a musician.   The adults as well as the students will join together under the baton of Mr. Devoe to play one final piece to end the concert with a bang.  Perhaps it is a preview of a future musical event for the school, you never know. 
When asked about the joint concert, Ms Pollyanna Gorman, music director and conductor of the GWPops, stated:  “ We are very excited to be a part of this event.  As a student, you think that unless you go to college and major in music, you won’t have another opportunity to play your instrument.  We want to help clear that up, you CAN PLAY as long as you enjoy it.”   Everyone is really looking forward to this collaboration and giving back to a community that can appreciate what music means to young persons of all ages. 
You can get further information regarding this great event either by going to Century High School’s event calendar or to the Golden West Pops webpage,   


February 17, 2012'

From Gershwin to Queen

by Joe LaRosa

The Golden West Pops Announce Their 2012 Concert Program

This year the Golden West Pops has built their regular concert season repertoire from works by famous composers. The Pops strive to not only entertain their concert audiences but also to enlighten them through music they enjoy. Concerts will feature signature music by composers that should be recognized by everyone. Past concert themes have included dances from around the world and selections from Broadway to the silver screen.

Big band numbers from Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Louis Armstrong will play counterpoint to musical theatre selections from Lerner & Lowe, Richard Rodgers, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Popular composers today write for blockbuster movies so greats like Henry Mancini, Hans Zimmer and John Williams will be well represented. Great composers, through history, have also simply been referred to as songwriters so works by Queen, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin will not be overlooked. Finally, no big concert band performance would be complete without patriotic compositions such as America the Beautiful, Semper Fidelis, and Stars and Stripes Forever. The works of these composers and more will be mixed and matched with little extras thrown in to appeal to concert goers of all ages in order to make each performance a unique experience.

The Golden West Pops is a fifty piece all volunteer concert band performing throughout Orange County. You can follow the Pops and learn where they will be performing online at or on Facebook. The Pops, established in 2003, is a non-profit corporation available to entertain at public and private functions such as festivals, patriotic, corporate and community events throughout the southland. For information on how the Golden West Pops can be booked for your event you can contact them at (714)791-1598 or online at


February 2, 2012>'

The Girl from Hormel

by Joe LaRosa

When you say the word SPAM most people think of all the unwanted e-mail that clutters up their computer in-boxes.  For Delores Haber, currently a trumpet player for the Golden West Pops, it probably conjures up fond memories of being a Hormel Girl. 


Before taking its dubious place in our computer lexicon, SPAM was and still is, a canned meat product produced by the Hormel Company and is enjoyed in 41 countries worldwide, sold on six continents and trademarked in over 100 different countries.  SPAM was first introduced in 1937 and became of staple of our men fighting in World War II.  In 1946, after the war, Hormel created a troupe of female entertainers who would travel across the country putting on shows promoting the Hormel products including SPAM.  By 1948 the troupe had grown to 60 women, including 16 in the orchestra.  The group was considered very patriotic and traveled the country in 40 matching white Chevrolet cars; each girl, while “on-duty” wearing flight attendant-like uniforms.  Before being undone by TV advertising in 1953, the Hormel Girls were featured on three radio networks and put on shows in large auditoriums from coast to coast.


Delores began her trumpet playing career in Aberdeen, Washington at a time that was not easy for female musicians.  Banned from her high school marching band for being a woman, she auditioned and was accepted into the Washington State Honor Band.   She went on to earn a BA from University of Washington where she was playing solo trumpet for the UW Concert Band and Orchestra and was the first female accepted into the trumpet section of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.   Delores also entertained our troops with the USO in shows in the South Pacific, Japan, Korea, and European Theaters.


Delores is currently one of the very talented trumpet players in the Golden West Pops.  The Pops is an Orange County, California based 50 piece concert band  playing a variety of popular music pieces at venues throughout the southland.

December 11, 2011'

Twas the Night for the Golden West Pops 2011 Holiday Concert

by Carol Franchi

What a magical night!  The Golden West Pops put on a show that was spectacular in every way.   From the incredible musical rendition of White Christmas performed by Kelly Dean on trombone to the hauntingly beautiful Auld Lang Syne  with Frank Heinrichs on flugel horn and sung by the band itself, there was something for every musical taste.  Selections from popular artists such as the Carpenters “Merry Christmas Darling”, Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Danny Elfmans music from “The Nightmare before Christmas” were intertwined with holiday favorites like Fantasia for Christmas and Still Nacht.  Charlie Brown Christmas was mixed in with the Grinch and we even got to MAMBO our way to wishing you a “Merry Christmas”.  
But the highlight of the evening was the reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” narrated by Bruce Mills and performed by the Pops incredibly talented musicians.  And of course Pollyanna Gorman in her “nightshirt and cap” bringing the music to life for the entire audience.  All the musicians were treated to a very special visit by Santa who, during the second half, filled handmade stockings for each individual member and were hung with care at the back of the auditorium  with the help of a few of his elves. 
A great audience was the present that the band had wished for and did we ever get our wish!  So many of our friends and family were able to share this special night with us.  It truly made this holiday season one to remember.  A special thanks to all our supporters and helpers that made this night possible. To Randy Smith and Heide Palikan for their hand made treasures.  We truly can’t do any of this without every one of you! 
So as the Jolly 'Ol Elf himself would say… Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
See you in 2012.


December 4, 2011'

Great Night at Bella Terra!

by Carol Franchi

December has arrived with a bang! The Golden West Pops performed a wonderful Holiday concert to ring in the Christmas cheer this past Saturday, December 3rd, at the Bella Terra Mall in Huntington Beach, California. Once again to celebrate, GWPops had a wonderful crowd as they played their annual concert to benefit Toys for Tots sponsored by the United States Marine Corp. The concert included introductions from Marines representing the Los Alamitos base and a surprise appearance from the Jolly 'ol elf himself, Santa. The children enjoyed frolicking in the "snow" as it fell from the sky. Imagine that! Snow in Huntington Beach, California!
With a beautiful Christmas tree as a backdrop, fun was had by all as the shoppers sat and enjoyed fun tunes such as, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Baby It's Cold Outside, and boy was it cold outside.  But despite the cold and the wind the audience was treated to a fine concert under the stars.
 But you have one more chance to see The Golden West Pops performing its annual Holiday Concert, featuring a wonderful narration of “Twas the Night Before”,  at The Sisters of St. Joseph's in Orange, CA this Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7pm.  You’ll be able to experience really great versions of some of our more “non-traditional carols” as well as start the holiday season off with a bang.  And don’t be surprised if some special treats fall your way.  Bring your friends and family and get a jump on the season

The Golden West Pops is excited to announce its upcoming Holiday season.  You will have two great opportunities to see and hear the GWPops perform some enchanting music in early December to help get you into the Holiday Spirit.
On Saturday, Dec 3, 2011, the Pops will once again be a part of the Toys for Tots campaign at Bella Terra Mall, in Huntington Beach.  Beginning at 6pm you will have the opportunity to come by and listen to an evening of concert music in the old style tradition.  Premiering their “Twas the night before…” holiday program the music will include some great hits like “Merry Christmas Darling” and “Happy Xmas” along with some old favorites like “Sounds of Christmas” and “Hanukkah Festival”.   But stick around for a special visit from a very “Jolly Old Elf” who just might drop in on this snowy winter’s night.
On Saturday, Dec 10, 2011, the Golden West Pops will perform their final concert of the year.  Topping off a wonderfully successful year the GWPops is proud to present “Twas the Night Before…” .  This exciting formal concert will be held at the Sister of St. Joseph Concert Hall in Orange.  Beginning at 7pm the Pops will take to the stage and bring you back to those childhood memories of waiting for that special night to come.  To highlight the evening they will be performing an exciting version of the popular holiday poem “Twas the Night before Christmas” with an added special guest narrator.  And of course you never know who just might stop by for cookies and milk!
So SAVE THE DATE!  We would love to have you spend your holiday with us!
Ticket information and venue location is available on or friend us on Facebook to get special notifications sent directly to you. 


October 20, 2011'

Spend the Holiday’s with Us!

by Carol Franchi
The Golden West Pops is excited to announce its upcoming Holiday season.  You will have two great opportunities to see and hear the GWPops perform some enchanting music in early December to help get you into the Holiday Spirit.
On Saturday, Dec 3, 2011, the Pops will once again be a part of the Toys for Tots campaign at Bella Terra Mall, in Huntington Beach.  Beginning at 6pm you will have the opportunity to come by and listen to an evening of concert music in the old style tradition.  Premiering their “Twas the night before…” holiday program the music will include some great hits like “Merry Christmas Darling” and “Happy Xmas” along with some old favorites like “Sounds of Christmas” and “Hanukkah Festival”.   But stick around for a special visit from a very “Jolly Old Elf” who just might drop in on this snowy winter’s night.
On Saturday, Dec 10, 2011, the Golden West Pops will perform their final concert of the year.  Topping off a wonderfully successful year the GWPops is proud to present “Twas the Night Before…” .  This exciting formal concert will be held at the Sister of St. Joseph Concert Hall in Orange.  Beginning at 7pm the Pops will take to the stage and bring you back to those childhood memories of waiting for that special night to come.  To highlight the evening they will be performing an exciting version of the popular holiday poem “Twas the Night before Christmas” with an added special guest narrator.  And of course you never know who just might stop by for cookies and milk!
So SAVE THE DATE!  We would love to have you spend your holiday with us!
Ticket information and venue location is available on or friend us on Facebook to get special notifications sent directly to you. 

February 23, 2011'

It’s another year begun for the Golden West Pops and once again I get to decide what the “theme” of our repertoire will be for this year.  A couple of months ago, I started investigating whether or not different “Dance” styles would work for us.  As it turns out, IT DOES! 
This year we are featuring approximately 16 different styles.  We have everything from 1920’s flapper music, to western two-step all the way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s disco, swing, Latin, polka, tango, Irish dances and even stripper music.
Here’s a brief history two of our dance styles:

Tango History

by Lori Heikkila
Tango (the dance with the stop "Baille Con Carte") is one of the most fascinating of all dances. Originating in Spain or Morocco, the Tango was introduced to the New World by the Spanish settlers, eventually coming back to Spain with Black and Creole influences.
In the early 19th Century, the Tango was a solo dance performed by the woman. The Andalusian Tango was later done by one or two couples walking together using castanets. The dance was soon considered immoral with its flirting music!
Ballroom Tango originated in the lower class of Buenos Aires, especially in the "Bario de las Ranas". Clothing was dictated by full skirts for the woman and gauchos with high boots and spurs for the man.
The story of Tango as told is that it started with the gauchos of Argentina. They wore chaps that had hardened from the foam and sweat of the horses body. Hence to gauchos walked with knees flexed. They would go to the crowded night clubs and ask the local girls to dance. Since the gaucho hadn't showered, the lady would dance in the crook of the man's right arm, holding her head back. Her right hand was held low on his left hip, close to his pocket, looking for a payment for dancing with him. The man danced in a curving fashion because the floor was small with round tables, so he danced around and between them.
The dance spread throughout Europe in the 1900's. Originally popularized in New York in the winter of 1910 - 1911, Rudolph Valentino then made the Tango a hit in 1921.
As time elapsed and the music became more subdued, the dance was finally considered respectable even in Argentina.

Swing Music History

Swing music, like the term "swing," can be a rather general term. It can refer to swing jazz music which was the style of American music most popular in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Despite what many people think, Big Band music is not swing music, but swing music can be big band. Big Band is exactly what it is called, a large band of musicians usually comprised of more than 12 instruments. This does not describe the style of music played, however. Big band can and often has been Latin music, swing jazz music and even rock & roll music. Therefore, it is important to note the difference between big band and swing music and one must also realize that not all big bands were swing bands.
Other than swing jazz, the term "swing music" can also refer to any style of music that is very common to swing dance to. These swing danceable styles of music includes 20s hot jazz, swing jazz, jump & jive, jump blues, blues, rhythm & blues, very early rock & roll, rockabilly and neo-swing which is also referred to as retro-swing.
In general, swing music is up-tempo, often joyous, with a wide, full sound with a driving forward momentum syncopated rhythm. The music is usually in 4/4 or 4/8 timing with the emphasis on the even beats. In its purest form it is a flexible platform from which individual musicians can be creative while still contributing harmoniously to the whole.

Pollyanna Gorman
Music Director


December 22, 2010'


Chilling Music


Have you ever gone to a concert (perhaps the GWP “Home for the Holidays”) and been so moved by the music that you actually get goose bumps? (Wasn’t that Piccolo awesome at the beginning of Celtic Carol?[sic]) Or maybe you have seen something so genuinely beautiful that you are moved to tears? (Polly’s Santa Cowgirl outfit perhaps).  Well as it turns out there really is a reason for those physical responses.  And they’ve done studies to find out if your personality is a clue. (Marcus? ok maybe not!)  Check out the link below to get a better understanding of why we are moved to tears, get goose bumps or “Yes, Virginia” skin orgasms.


August 14th, 2010'


Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive
As we all know August 14th is a very special day in America’s history.  On this day in 1945 World War II was declared over.  Well, it’s been 65 years since that eventful day.  Many of the men and women who served our country in that war are gone now.  But they left us a legacy that must be remembered.
On August 14, 2010 many Americans all across the Nation paid tribute to those incredible hero’s.  And the Golden West Pops Buglers, lead by our conductor Pollyanna Gorman,  were a part of those festivities.  At exactly 4pm (7pm EST)  they joined with buglers across the nation in playing Taps in remembrance of all those that paid the ultimate price for our great nation. 
A small ceremony was held at Parkview Memorial Park in Corona del Mar which included the Mayor of Wildomar, Ms Bridget  Moore, reading a proclamation presented in Congress to make the third Sunday in August a national day of remembrance.  There were several readings of memories of those who lived thru that experience including one of Edith Shain, the nurse made famous by a picture of her being kissing by a soldier in Time Square.  
We give thanks to all of those exceptional Americans that served their country through that tremendous fight.  But not just the soldiers that fought in the war.  This is a day to remember all those men, women and children who were home working to keep their country safe. 


Keep the Spirit of 45 Alive!   Today and always.
Click here to view video 



January 10, 2009'

Hello All,

This was sent to me by Kelly Dean our lead trombone and I thought it very interesting. I would like to share this with all of you as well. No matter what your day or week has been like we should all try to remember to stop and listen to the music. It comes to us in various different ways and in many forms but you can always find it just a listen away. At this time of year we all get caught up in so many things. Please don’t miss the things that are just there waiting for you. Have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to stop and listen!

Please feel free to share this with your friends and family.


Thought of the Day

"A Violinist in the Metro"

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?


September 11, 2008'

Pollyanna Gorman's Tribute to 9/11 Victims & Families

Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing on that fateful day 7 years ago.  It affected all of us in some way and every year we stop to remember and to give triburte to those that were lost.  Also, every year, Pollyanna Gorman conductor of the Golden West Pops pays tribute in a small way of her own.  This year was no exception.

On Thursday morning at exactly 7:35 am in the parking lot of her work place Polly gathered with her friends and family to pay tribute to the men and women who were lost to us that day and to the families who were left behind.  Her words were few, only acknowledging why each song was played and for whom, but the music was heartfelt.  She expressed her appreciation for all those who have served and are serving now in the military by playing the Star Spangled Banner, then quickly moving to a solemn rendering of Taps for those that were lost and finally playing Amazing Grace for the families who are still grieving.  It wasn’t a lengthy tribute and there was no fanfare or cameras.  Just a group of friends that gathered together to remember. d be thankful for those we have lost and for those we will lose in the future. ;In Polly’s own words, “Thank you to all of you who risk your lives every day to make our country safe”

God Bless


July 28, 2008'

“From Africa to Alaska”
The members of the Golden West Pops come from all walks of life. Some are accountants, some nurses and a few are retired.  Every one of us is unique in his/her own way. Our love of music makes us all the same in one respect but we sometimes forget how interesting and different our fellow member’s lives are from our own.
 Attached is the bio for just one of those individuals.  Since this article was written there have been many more accomplishments to add to the story. A trip to Alaska being the last great adventure, a beautiful new instrument which has a story unto itself and a planned showing of their artwork in the next few months.

Just click on the link below to read about the life of this very talented musician.

 Dennis McNutt Profile

May 30, 2008'

I started looking into the origin of the “Concert Band and what, by today’s standards, does that mean for the Golden West Pops. So here is what I found. Hopefully it will give you some insight as to who we are and why we exist.Definition: Concert Band, also called wind band, symphonic band, symphonic winds, wind orchestra or wind ensemble, is defined as “a performing ensemble consisting of several members of the woodwind, brass and percussion instrument family”. Its repertoire includes original wind compositions, arranged classical items, light music, and popular tunes. Instrumentation is similar to the marching band but it’s primary function is as a concert ensemble (thank goodness!).


In the 18th century military ensembles, known as Harmonie bands, did double duty as entertainment at the royal courts sometimes alone or with strings. Composers, Mozart to be certain, began writing chamber music for these groups which included two oboes, two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons. (ok, so not quite what we have today) When Turkish music was introduced it contributed to the expansion of the “Western European” wind band due to the dramatic percussion parts. This required the addition of percussion instruments such as bass drum, cymbals and triangles as well as the piccolo to balance out the weight of the percussion. (yeah PICs!!) Eventually more clarinets and brass were added and by 1810 the “wind band” was developed into pretty much what we have today.

In the 19th century the English and American traditions mainly used the Military Bands for ceremonial and festive occasions. They performed mainly marches. The only time wind bands were used in a concert setting was when they performed transcriptions of orchestral or operatic pieces. There were very few if any original concert works for a large wind ensemble. In 1909 the first notable and original symphonic work for wind ensemble was written by Gustav Holst. (can you guess?) Everyone’s favorite, First Suite in E-Flat. After that a variety of British, American, Canadian and Australian composers began writing pieces. Most notably are Howard Cable, Percy Grainger and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In 1952 Frederick Fennell established the Eastman School of Music Wind Ensemble. This is considered to be the beginning of what is known as the modern Wind Ensemble. It is generally modeled after the wind section of a Wagner orchestra. Considered to have one player on a part this is only true with chamber pieces. Full band pieces require doubling or tripling of the clarinets and trumpets. Contemporary composers found that the wind ensemble offered a welcome opportunity to perform new music. College band directors have been the driving force in expansion and improvement of the repertoire for the typical concert band.

Most adult bands outside of colleges are community bands. A community band consists of wind and percussion players generally sponsored by a city or town and consisting of amateur performers. The standard concert band will have several players on a part depending on the personnel and the conductor. The Wind Ensemble, however, will have very little doubling, mostly in the flutes and clarinets. >

And so the Golden West Pops is formed as a community band in the form of a Wind Ensemble. Look to future postings to give you the “History of the Pops”.





March 10, 2008'

Each year around November I start looking for new pieces for the group to play the next year. We usually have a theme of some sort and carry about 30 songs in our folders. About a third of these pieces are ones we can’t get rid of; Star Spangled Banner, Armed Forces Salute , America the Beautiful etc. The rest I try and select with a particular theme or style in mind. One year we had Broadway /musicals as a theme and included everything from “That’s Entertainment” arranged by Warren Barker to “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber to “Selections from Mamma Mia” by Abba.

This year our theme is music through the ages. We have a couple of pieces from the 20’s, some ragtime selections, a few swing pieces, surfer music, jazz, rock, Dixieland, Latin, funk and even some classical. As we rehearse I try and point out the differences in the styles: Dixieland versus Ragtime, surfer music versus jazz etc. This keeps the rehearsals interesting as we try, for instance, to play two pieces back to back that are close to the same style but need to be played differently.

History of Ragtime style music:

Just before the twentieth century began, a craze for "ragged music" swept the United States . After enjoying great popularity for a few decades, ragtime faded, as all crazes do. But it left a permanent mark on American music. Not only was ragtime itself one of the first widely popular styles of music that actually developed in the U.S., but it also played a major part in the development of a style that has been called "America's music": jazz.

By the 1920's ragtime was considered "old hat". New crazes came along, and new kinds of music. But ragtime continued to be performed and recorded, and it clearly had a major influence on early jazz greats such as "Jelly Roll" Morton, and on early jazz styles such as Dixieland and "Harlem Stride" jazz piano. As jazz went on to develop other styles, ragtime faded and was nearly forgotten. But some enthusiasts who were exploring the roots of jazz began a ragtime revival in the 1940's. The revival gained momentum very slowly until, in 1973, the movie "The Sting" reintroduced ragtime to the general public. Classic rags, particularly Joplin 's "The Entertainer", became once again a part of the standard band and piano repertoire. Ragtime continues to be popular with both musicians and audiences and has at last gained widespread respect and recognition as an art that produced works of true genius.

Pollyanna Gorman
Music Director Conductor


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