The City Guard Band at the Greek Theatre August 17


From OB Historical Society

Did you ever dream of traveling back in time, to an era when life seemed simpler, less pretentious and . . . more fun?  An opportunity to do just that presents itself this Saturday, August 17 when the Ocean Beach Historical Society presents the San Diego City Guard Band in a Free Concert at the famous Greek Theater on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University.

When Carlson and Higgins first subdivided the sand dunes that they had chosen to name Ocean Beach, they decided that they would need something more than the salt air to draw potential buyers out to the remote coastal hillside.

They hired San Diego’s most popular band, The City Guard Band, to play a series of weekend concerts at the beach. The year was 1887. Ten years later, when “Madame” Katherine Tingley laid the cornerstone for her proposed School for the Revival of the Mysteries of Antiquity, over one thousand San Diegans turned out for the ceremony on the ridgetop known as Point Loma, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The City Guard Band provided the entertainment.


Reading newspaper accounts of big events in the City’s early history one finds the exploits of The City Guard Band recounted over and over.  The Band had developed a statewide and national reputation by the time San Diego invited the world to the Panama California Exposition in 1915.  Naturally the famous City Guard Band was named the Official Band for the yearlong festival.

In 1980, a group of local musicians dedicated to preserving “turn of the century” Band Music, formed the Heritage Band Society, and re-established the City Guard Band.

“I first heard the City Guard Band a couple years ago, and they honestly gave me goose bumps,” said OBHS President Eric DuVall, “they were that good!” DuVall said that ever since, he wanted to collaborate with the band on a free concert.  “The Greek Theatre (1901) is San Diego’s oldest concert venue,” he continued, “we thought it would be a natural fit and we were able to convince the folks at Point Loma Nazarene to make the Greek Theatre available.”

Dedicated by Katherine Tingley in 1901, The Greek Theatre was the first amphitheater of its kind in North America.  The bowl has seen stagings of Shakespearean comedies, Greek tragedies, musicals, many pageants, festivals, conferences, and of course concerts, in its almost 120 years.  Generations of PLNU, Cal Western University, and Point Loma High students graduated in the Greek Theatre. Chuck Berry even played the venue in the ‘70s.

“Lots of kids grow up these days and never have a chance to hear any real live music, “  said DuVall. “Here is a chance to see an excellent forty piece brass band in an old fashioned summertime concert, and staged in a world class venue, for free.”   The OBHS encourages concert goers to come early for a picnic at the Greek Theatre and to stay to see the sun dip below the horizon. Green flash, anyone? The program will begin at 6:00 pm and there is plenty of free parking on campus.

Concert goers are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy a picnic in this picturesque setting. Bring your own picnic or enjoy
popcorn, lemonade or something delicious from one of the food vendors who will be on hand.

OBHS has been working with the Heritage Band Society and its City Guard Band to present a concert of popular tunes
and marches covering the last 100 years. The concert will begin promptly at 6 p.m.

Somebody went to a lot of trouble putting this graphic together. I keep looking for Madame Tingley or DC Collier or at least Kathy and Ray Blavatt hidden in there somewhere. – Ed.



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