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part by their love of music.

Traditional jazz and travel.least two activities of interest to many of our readers:  Traditional jazz and travel.
Traditional jazz and travel.least two activities of interest to many of our readers:  Traditional jazz and travel.

First, travel.  Donna and John have been on numerous cruises to such places as South and Central America, the
Greek islands, and the Mediterranean. Further, they have toured Spain, Portugal, Madeira, Italy, China, New
Zealand, Australia, Bali, Tahiti, Thailand, Central Europe, India, Israel, Jordan, and Indonesia. (I’m sure I
missed a few countries!!)

Traditional jazz.  Donna likes all kinds of music and loves to go to Chautauqua as well as the Allegheny Jazz
Society concerts in Meadville.  She and John support many of the local NE Ohio bands and have the same
tables reserved for them each time.  Donna’s support of jazz also goes toward her service to EARLYJAS.  She
was a
Trustee for two years and is in her second year as President.

When asked if she feels there is much of a future for OKOM (Our Kind Of Music), she responds with a quick
and enthusiastic “Yes!”.  She lists as evidence the dozens of jazz festivals all over the nation, the many clubs
and events in California and Florida, as well as festivals and (some) Dixieland in New Orleans.  She does
regret the virtual absence of young people embracing the music and has been discouraged when she has
attempted to introduce high school students and their band directors to become active with EARLYJAS.  
Nevertheless she maintains a very positive attitude toward the health of the music.
Thank you,
Donna, for your support of EARLYJAS!
Ron Benach -- Versatile Musician                               April 2005
Ron Benach squeezed me in for an interview between his music teaching
and a recording session.  Ron, who is a great guitar player, teaches guitar
at Margolis Music in North Canton.  The recording session was putting
finishing touches on a CD featuring the Ohio state junior champion fiddle
player, Krista Solars.  Only 17, Krista already has another CD to her credit.  
Today, Ron was playing bass in her band where they were working on
some ‘old timey’ music and some Bob Wills style Western Swing.
Ron has been a Western swing player on guitar and banjo for many years.  
He speaks of the style as an interesting crossover from traditional jazz.  
Indeed, some of the originators of the music in the late 30’s were jazz
players playing with country musicians and vice versa.  Even some of the
songs are the same.  For example, you might hear St. Louis Blues, I Ain’t
Gonna Give Nobody None of my Jelly Roll, Corrine Corrina, South, Ida,
Copenhagen, Four or Five Times, Silver Bell – all songs played by jazz
bands.  You might hear ‘San’ under the title of ‘Give Me My Dime Back’.
And Western swing often uses a trumpet and/or clarinet in addition to
fiddles, guitar, four string banjo, and bass.

Mr. Benach was born and raised in the Canton area.  There were no
instrumentalists in his immediate family but there was lots of singing.  Ron
was an accomplished singer but after two years of barking commands in a
basic training unit in the Army plus 30 years of screaming at high school
kids pretty much did in his voice.  Indeed, in music school at
Kent State,
he was a Voice major with a trombone minor.  
One of his trombone teachers was Bob Paolucci who was first trombonist in the New York Philharmonic under
Arturo Toscannini.  Ron gives much praise to his private music teacher, Kenny Stone.  Under Mr. Stone’s
tutelage and insistence, Ron became a good reader and learned fundamentals of music theory.

In his younger days, Ron was on the road for several years with a group he describes as a
"quasi folk country
jazz show band"
playing a variety of country music, show tunes, and jazz standards.  Two of his groups were
the "Varsity Group" and the "Tambre Men". Ron arranged the music, wrote some of it, sang and played bass and
guitar.  He has played or shared the bill with such well known artists as Jack Immel and Larry Hooper of the
Lawrence Welk Show, Dolly Parton, Anita Bryant, Homer and Jethro, Jack Green, Ray Pillow, and Frank
Fontane ('Crazy' Googenheim on the old Jackie Gleason Show).  This extended performing and arranging
experience led him to form a music publishing and recording company in

At some point, weary of the travel and the ups, downs, and unknowns of the music business, Ron settled down
in West Chester, PA.  For many years, he was an instrumental music teacher and band director.  When he
retired from the public schools, he returned to Canton.  In the Canton area, he has played a lot of different
styles.  Lately, he has been playing a lot of big band and polka music.  He even did a Turkish gig once!
For you instrument buffs, Ron plays a top of the line
Gibson – the big L-5.  His banjo was custom made by
Perry McKinley of Mansfield.  Ron also plays a six string bass as well as standard bass.

Ron’s interest in country music and in jazz came about through some memorable moments.  When Ron was a lad
in the mid-40’s, he met an old man named ‘Cappy’. (Last name forgotten.)  Cappy had played snare drum in the
Grand Army of the Republic parade in Washington, DC at the end of the Civil War!  Moreover, Cappy was still
playing a five string banjo and regaled young Ron with songs and stories and a fascinating version of a song he
wrote called ‘Empire Express’.  

Ron traces his interest in traditional jazz to an early 1950’s radio show on
WWVA.  The  moderator of the hour
long show played traditional jazz records and gave histories of the songs and musicians.

When asked about the future of traditional jazz, Ron is optimistic but prefers to speak of a broader array of jazz
and swing oriented music.  He notes that his young guitar students usually are fairly open minded about music
styles.  Ron attempts to encourage them to develop technique and theory so they can take different musical
paths as their interests mature.  He also encourages them to attend lots of different kinds of music

As stated earlier, Ron reflects on the crossover between Western Swing and jazz.  He speaks of the national
popularity of such groups as the
Hot Club of Cowtown from Austin, TX, Asleep at the Wheel, and Riders in the
Sky, and of local NE Ohio groups such as
Hillbilly Idol.  All  these groups include some jazz stylings and have
musicians who often play in jazz bands.

Just one of Ron’s many anecdotes: “We did a gig with
Uncle Heavy and his Singing Pig.  The pig could sing a
scale and things like Mary Had A Little Lamb.  On one show, the pig relieved himself on the stage.  One of the
dancing girls slipped in the mess and went sliding across the stage!  It didn’t do much for her costume!”
Finally, Ron says: “Even though music has provided a good life for me, I guess that someday I should get a real
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
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