Dixie Diehards Look Back
In August 2006, Rick Foster, Jim Kelleher, Bill Kiesewetter, Santo Pullara, and Chris Wadsworth decided it was time to transition from ensemble style jazz, as members of the Stone Street Strummers Band, to the free wheeling improvisational style of traditional New Orleans Dixieland jazz.
Other members of the Strummers at that time included Dick Leggee (tuba), Don Russell (drums), Dick Jenkins & Dick Phillips (banjos) helped get the band off the ground. After several months of practicing, we decided it was time to perform live in front of audience, hopefully friendly. In October 2006, we were invited to play in a local blues club in Taunton, Ma., known as Steve’s Backstage Pass. Over the next couple of years we played about seven gigs at this venue.
In December 2006, we created a Christmas concert including the standard selection of Christmas Carols, and other seasonal favorites. For a Dixieland jazz band, It was a stretch, but overall, it was well received.
In 2007 we added Dale Ellenberg as our drummer, along with Steve Shaw on tuba. In addition, Dolly Fruzetti vocalist and Paul Peterson on saxophone expanded the band to 9 musicians. 2007 was a busy year for the band, we played in a variety of venues, many of which were two hour concerts, some in Performing Arts Centers in the area. We also began to receive reviews of our performances that appeared both in print and on jazz related web sites.
In 2008, Alan Shapiro took over as music director from Jim Kelleher, and the band reconfigured into a traditional Dixieland structure with a single banjo. The band’s repertoire continued to expand as our concerts were able to accommodate more specific requests from our growing audiences. Our number of performances continued to grow, to almost 50 concerts annually, as the word of the band spread.
In 2009, Santo retired and Bill Dube joined the band on clarinet & sax. We also utilized the services of Lorri Inglis as back-up on drums, and to handle our audio equipment. In addition to festivals, private functions and retirement communities, we began to see many repeat venues in our schedule. In 2010 Jim Kelleher retired with Bob Paul assuming trombone responsibilities. Bob retired recently and was replaced by Johnny Z ( Zawislak ). John also retired in May 2014, and was replaced by our current trombonist & vocalist, Ron L’Herault.
In 2015 our Music Director Alan Shapiro retired and was replaced by Carl Gerhard a 30 yr. retired U.S. Navy Band Director. In 2017, Steve Shaw or tuba player moved on, and was replaced by our longtime sub Bill Kass.