Although we for many years have been a regular member of' the uniformed units of our temple, the oriental band. first got started with members of the Camel Herders. Chinook Stable No 45. At every ceremonial of Al Kader Temple, initiation into the Camel Herders takes place at high-noon. Music for this session was usually just a piano. Some of us thought that we shou1d do better than that music-wise and Noble Jim Bracco who times played said piano, came up with the idea of forming an oriental band. The idea took hold and Sahib Jim wrote one of the greatest bandsmen of all, the late Monty FerDon who at that time was Sec'y-Treas. and National Organizer for the Association of Shrine Oriental Bands asking for advice and information about getting started with the forming of an O.B. Needless to say, the letter to Monty got a prompt reply with full info on what to do and it was decided that Jim Bracco would while in San Francisco for· the Shrine East-West Football game find out all he could from the oriental bands in attendance at the game about uniforms, instruments, etc.
January 11th, 1951 was the date we held our organizational meeting, elected. our first officers and a new O.B. was born. Those elected to serve as first officers of the band. were: Jim Bracco - Director, Floyd Charbeneau - President, Wm. Leverenz.-.Vice President. Marion Kuebler -Sgt-at-Arms, and Bob Parkhill as Sec'y-Treas. Having formed an oriental band, we applied for membership in the A.S.O.B. were accepted and received our charter from Monty FerDon a short time later - date on the same being January 29. 1951.
Our first playing and marching performance as an oriental band was at the regular April meeting of the Camel Herders in 1951. We started with 15 members and by the end of 1951 had a band of 35. Of the 15 charter members, only seven are left., Gene Loyd, Bob Smith, Harold Durr, Pete Briggs, Clyde Cushman, Ray Evanson, and Bob Parkhill. Retirements, transfers to other areas and visitations of the Black Camel accounting for the others.
Al Kader Oriental Band participates in the first section at all ceremonials, has never missed a parade, and naturally, furnishes the music for every initiation of the Camel Herders. During the year the band is kept busy with attendance at all Temple Stated Meetings, weekly practice sessions every Tuesday night, participates at all Shrine football games here in Portland, Oregon and many times makes the trek to Pendleton, Ore. to take part in annual Shrine game there. Each year during Shrine circus. time the O.B. is busy with the selling of ads for circus programs, also selling of said program as well as circus tickets. At the last two Shr1ne circus sessions the band has appeared 1n full orientals in the circus arena and played before the start of the big snow.
Each band member owns his own uniforms from the full orientals, which are made by the way by a member of our group Noble Gene Loyd, to the regular O.B. red coats, with grey slacks, white shirts, black tie and shoes and O.B. Fez which is worn when not appearing in full orientals. When occasion demands, all Nomads, of course, wear formals with a white coat. This band as did most O.B.s started with the double reed Chinese musette but has long since changed to the precision Steinhauer in key F for the 18-inch horns and key C for the 24-inch tenor musettes. We find that with our Steinhauer musettes we can play harmony that is not possible with any other musettes. We are most fortunate in having as a member of the band the man who makes these instruments and who quite naturally is in our musette section – Sahib Kirby Steinhauer.
Many of our instruments are owned by the Nobles who play them and if not owned by band members belong to the band. When on stage or 1n parade we can have 50 men in uniform led by band director, Noble Ben Gillaspie followed with two banner carriers, two who carry gongs, one magician, twenty-four musettes, eight tambourines, six conga drums, two cymbals, two gong players and two tympani drums.
Al Kader O.B is a charter member of the Pacific Northwest Shrine Oriental Band Association. Two members of our group, Chuck holder now retired, and Jim Crider has served through the line and are now Past Presidents of P.N.S.O.B.A. Sahib Larry Severson who is our band President for 1964 is also an officer of the O.B. Regional Ass’n. having been elected to the office of Sgt-at-Arms at the last regional meeting. Another Al Kader O.B. member, Bob Parkhill also serves the P.N.S.O.B.A. as Sec’y-Treas., and having served through A.S.O.B. line is a Past President of the National O.B. Ass’n. it would be most remiss not to mention here that Al Kader Oriental Band turned out in full force giving wonderful support to their above-mentioned fellow bandsman who was the outgoing ASOB President in 1960 at Imperial Session at Denver, Colorado.
This bearded bunch of Nomads has made many public appearances as well as those for Shrine and Masonic functions. They have been in attendance at most temple regional sessions of the P.N.S.A., also have made the trek on three occasions to participate in the W.A.S.O.B. Jamboree and World’s Championship O.B. contest. Although never having won the overall Championship we never the less have always brought home trophies, five of the same on one occasion.
As aforementioned, our first director was Jim Bracco and to Noble Jim must go a lot of credit for it was he who was the spark plug in getting this band started and leading it until he moved from Portland to Los Angeles some two years later. With Bracco leaving, the Ass’t director Dick Braughn took over and we were under the direction and leadership of Noble Dick for the next three years. A visitation of the Black Camel has taken Sahib Braughn to the Unseen Temple and for years now we have been under the leadership and guiding hand of Noble Ben Gillaspie. No question but what this O.B. is most fortunate in having as its director this Noble Son of the Desert who can and frequently does play any instrument in the band. Being a patient man, Sahib Ben has spent many hours instructing his fellow bandsmen and we have learned much under his most able leadership. Thanks to our director the musette section of Al Kader Oriental Band now plays notes and harmony we didn’t know could be done until this hard-working Nomad showed us the way. All music we play is written by Noble Ben and we are hoping his being appointed to Al Kader Divan will not interfere too much with his directing of our band.
The Nomads of Al Kader O.B. are firm believers in what has often been said…that nowhere will you find better fellowship than that which exists among oriental bandsmen. Certainly, we have found this to be so whenever we have had the pleasure to visit and rub elbows with our fellow bandsmen from other temples at various Shrine functions regardless of where it might have been.
Needless to say, we are proud of our unit and as a member of the Al Kader Uniformed Bodies are always ready to serve our temple in any way we can. No matter what the activities may be – ceremonial, circus, football game, annual sessions of PNSA and PNSOBA, or whatever there you will find, these bearded Nomads of Al Kader Oriental Band are always willing to play, parade, perform or lend a helping hand. May it ever be so.