Jefferson Community Band
According to the "Jefferson Times," the formation of the Jefferson Community Band was announced on February 2, 1967, under the direction of "Professor" Howard Voorhies. Growing up in Opelousas around the turn of the century, Voorhies gained experience with community bands as a member of the Opelousas Town Band, actually conducting it once at the age of 9. With a past as State Supervisor of Music, Band Director at USL, (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette), band director in the Orleans Parish School System, conducting an American Legion Band as well as various jazz and dance bands in the area, he became the first band director at the newly formed Archbishop Rummel High School in 1963.
After a few years, several band parents suggested to Professor Voorhies that he start an "Old Timers Band" for parents who once played in band and still enjoyed playing music. The first Jefferson Community Band included 12 men and women who were adult, non professional musicians. Among the founding members were Cyril Usner, the father of then Rummel student and now current band member Ed Usner, three of the teaching brothers on the staff at Rummel, other parents of boys in the Rummel band, and the school secretary. The band practiced in the Rummel Band Room, and later with full funding from Jefferson Parish, at Jefferson Playground, then Cleary Playground and membership was opened to the general public. Concerts were usually held at various shopping malls, and in the summer, a "Pops" series was held with a concert every week.
After Professor Voorhies' retirement in 1976 , Ione Rasmussen became the director. A very progressive woman, she performed with the all girls bands the Victoryettes and Rhythm Maids during WWII, while also attending Loyola School of Music, where she obtained her bachelors degree, and ultimately her masters degree in music education. She first became a band director in the Jefferson Parish public schools, then retired to raise her children. She joined the Jefferson Community band in 1969, originally as a clarinet and saxophone player. Later she returned to teaching, and from 1971 until 2006, was the band director at Ridgewood Prep. Under Ione's direction, the band began to have concerts once a month, performing at various churches, parks, nursing homes, shopping malls, Magnolia School, with all concerts continuing to be free to the public. While she was the conductor the Jefferson Community Band moved their practice site to Ridgewood, and it has remained there ever since, despite the retirement and passing of Mrs. Rasmussen.
In 2006 the baton was passed to our current conductor, Joe Berthelot. A New Orleans native, Joe is a retired Jefferson School System band director, having taught at several schools during his tenure. Prior to taking the reins, he also was a member of the band, playing baritone with us for many years. The band still has as its mission the providing of free live music for citizens of Jefferson Parish, with a special focus on the underserved. We continue to have a concert each month, at various assisted living homes, churches, Magnolia School, and the Jefferson Eastbank Regional Library.
In 2019 Samantha Morley was named Assistant Conductor. She is a 2016 graduate of Loyola University with a degree in Music Education, and is a band director in the Jefferson Parish School System. When not actually conducting the band, Samantha also plays clarinet with the group.
1984 Lakefront Airport
1994 Lafreniere Park
In A Musical Journey
Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. The Jefferson Community Band loves to harness that power with a broad audience of fellow music lovers and passionate musicians alike. Founded in 1967, the band is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing live music to people in Jefferson Parish. Our members are volunteer musicians who enjoy playing music and sharing that enjoyment with others.
Did you participate in your high school or college band? Do you think of playing your instrument again? The Jefferson Community Band is filled with people just like you. We would LOVE to have you join!
Not sure about your skills?
With rehearsals once a week, you will have time to practice before concerts, with “woodshedding” in between, if needed. While no audition is required, participants must possess musical skills to perform music at the level of an average high school band. If you are rusty, don't worry. It comes back!
What is the rehearsal schedule?
Rehearsals are held on Mondays from 7:30 to 9:30 at Ridgewood Prep Band Room, and run all year long, with occasional breaks after Christmas, etc. The address is 201 Pasadena Ave, with parking and entrance on Giuffrias St.
What kind of music do you play?
We perform light classics, marches, jazz, Broadway/TV medleys, patriotic and popular styles.
Not sure you will fit in?
The ages of our members range from twenty-somethings through older adults, both working adults and retirees. All of us share musical enthusiasm, collaboration, and camaraderie. While our focus is on performing music, we do it by developing COMMUNITY within our organization and between our audiences.
Please drop us a line on our Contact page and let us know you are coming!
(Not all concerts open to the public)
Free Concerts (all 7:00 start time )
St. Rita's Church, Harahan, Thursday, July 22
Supported in part by the Jefferson Parish Council
Jennifer Van Vranken
Councilwoman District V
The Jefferson Community Band has been granted a 501(c)(3) status by the IRS. As such, contributions are tax deductible under section 170 of the IRS Code. Donations may be made in the Donation Drum at the concerts, or may be mailed to the address listed in"Contact."