Thirty-five years ago, two women came together in Encinitas to play music and recruited 12 others to join in on the fun.
Back then, in 1983, Judy Thum's and Jan Turnage's vision for the Coastal Communities Concert Band (then the Coastal Communities Civic Band) was to play tunes as a way to pass the time and create camaraderie among local musicians. Today, the band has about five times the original members and that initial goal is still going strong.
While about half of the original members are still in the band, a majority of the group has come from an interest in trips to Lucern, Switzerland and other European destinations, said Thum, who plays the clarinet.
"Once they came with us, they had so much fun, and there's such camaraderie among people in the band, that they stayed with us," she said.
The group has been widely recognized for their musicianship. In 1998, they won the Sudler Silver Scroll Award from the John Philip Sousa Foundation and won a gold medal at the 2001 Alpine Music Festival in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. They also released an Emmy Award-winning DVD called “Community Band: Our Lives in Music,” which has been shown on several television stations.
Tom Cole, who has conducted the band for about four years, said one of his goals is to make the experience fun for the CCCBand members, as well as the audiences.
The band's song roster includes medleys from Broadway productions, marches, big band music and easy listening.
"Before we choose any kind of music, we think of the audience and what they think they can tap their toes to," Cole said. "They don't have to recognize everything but we make sure they recognize the majority of the selections."
Part of the band's mission is to also support local charities. Each holiday season for the last 23 years, they have put on concerts benefiting Meals on Wheels. They also offer scholarships to local high school musicians and offer them opportunities to play with the band.
In the past, the group also visited local elementary schools to introduce third graders to instruments.
The band will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a special concert on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. at the Carlsbad Community Church. Harry Watters, trombone, will be featured as a guest soloist.
This will be Watters' second time performing with the band. He previously played the group's 27th-anniversary concert in 2010.
"Everybody really enjoyed him, so we were anxious to have him back again," said Judy Schramm, a clarinet player.
For tickets and more information about the band and upcoming concert, visit www.cccband.com or call 760-436-6137.