Carson Valley Pops Orchestra rehearses at CVIC Hall |

Carson Valley Pops Orchestra rehearses at CVIC Hall

Brian Farnon wheeled a serving cart out of the kitchen at the CVIC Hall. “This will be my music stand tonight,” laughed the former music director at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe as he positioned himself in front of a semi-circle of 25 musicians ranging in age from 11 to at 84. With the same dedication and passion Farnon gave to Harrah’s South Shore Room for 25 years – playing for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. – he is ready to begin. “It has to be a million times softer. It has to be on the beat,” he tells the brass section as they make their way through Jean Sibelius’ “Valse Triste.” “Everybody, please,” he says patiently. “This is such a beautiful, delicate thing.” Welcome to the third rehearsal of the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra. This is strictly a shoestring operation. Nobody gets paid, and donations are cheerfully accepted. But for young musicians who may not know the difference between Spike Jones and Spike Lee, it’s a golden opportunity to learn from veterans like Farnon, violinist Danny Yale, pianist Al Sutton and other professionals who wanted to keep making music after casino house bands gave way to recorded musical arrangements. How, you might ask, did this ensemble end up at the CVIC Hall in downtown Minden, population 3,000? For one thing, the price was right. Farnon and Yale charmed the fiscally conservative Minden Town Board into waiving the $25 an hour rental fee. A deal was struck, however, that the pops orchestra would donate a performance or two for the town. But the real reason the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra exists is that self-described “old pros” like Farnon and Yale and their colleagues aren’t ready to retire. “I have been performing since I was 19. I was Nat King Cole’s musical director. I have to tell you, I must have conducted for every big name performer,” Farnon said. He played, sang and conducted at clubs in Chicago, Hollywood, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Eventually, he made his way to Tahoe for what he thought would be temporary work, and he’s still there more than 30 years later. Farnon worked at Harveys for three years before he was hired as Harrah’s music director in 1969 where he stayed for 25 years. He is well-known to Northern Nevada audiences as the creator and star of Harrah’s annual Chrismas production of “Scrooge,” a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” n Not part of the vocabulary. Retirement was not in Farnon’s vocabulary, however, so he conducted the Tahoe Community Orchestra for three years. “Danny Yale worked with me two or three times when I was music director at Harrah’s. Then he moved to Minden, and we got talking together,” he recalled. Yale and Farnon believed Minden’s central location would be an easier commute than Tahoe for musicians all over Northern Nevada, and they were right. The Carson Valley Pops Orchestra has 30 performers coming from Minden, Gardnerville, Yerington, Zephyr Cove, Reno, Carson City and Truckee for the Monday night practices. n From the Met to Minden. Yale, who began violin studies at age 7 and played at the Metropolitan Opera and for Broadway musicals, now lives in Minden. He’s a former orchestra leader as well, and plays every Sunday morning at Sterling’s restaurant in the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno. He’s in charge of recruiting more musicians for the string section. “We’re soliciting by word of mouth,” Yale said. “Any capable high school students who would like to learn from some old pros are more than welcome.” Included in the orchestra are members of Farnon’s Tahoe Dance Band. “I researched this,” he said. “I wondered if there were any classical orchestras with a dance band within it. And there were not. I thought we could combine dance, orchestra and classical. The same fellows play clarinets and flutes and oboes for classical music, put down those instruments and play swing. Why don’t we combine both? I love swing, I love classical music. We can play movie and television themes,” Farnon said. ‘That’s how it all started, out of me doing nothing and being bored. I’ve been writing arrangements and composing for years. I absolutely love it. I love it so much. I think I’d die if I didn’t do it. My mother told me, ‘Brian, don’t you ever take anything seriously,’ and I don’t. If I can’t have fun, laugh and kibitz, I don’t want to do it. Rehearsals are fun nights. We laugh and kibitz and get all the work done. I can’t abide people who take the attitude, ‘I can’t do that, I am a classical musician.’ That’s why I do this. I am an idiot,” he said. For keyboardist Al Sutton, who turns 85 in May, the weekly rehearsals are a chance to play. “There is so little actual work playing anymore, I am happy to play anywhere,” he said. “One other thing I am doing is playing rehearsals for a ballet class right here in Gardnerville.” Sutton got his first musicians’ union card in 1935 and has been playing ever since. He joined the service in World War II and played with the Navy band. After the war, Sutton returned to his home in Chicago, then decided it was time to head West. Eventually, he met up with Farnon at Lake Tahoe where he lived and performed for 27 years before moving to Gardnerville four years ago. n Too much snow. “We had a nice home up at the Lake. We loved it very much,” he said. “But we’re old now. Shoveling snow and taking care of the place got to be too much. We got to the point where we decided we didn’t like the winters anymore, so we moved down here.” Sutton still tries to practice every day. “At my age, the technique goes away if you don’t use it,” he said. “Listen, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m glad to be able to do what I am doing.” Along side the veterans with their decades of experience are several students. The youngest performer is 11-year-old Joshua Mindrum, a Carson City flute player. He sits between his father, Greg, who plays the oboe and his flute teacher, Carol Grenier of Carson City. “I would follow Brian anywhere,” Greg Mindrum said. “He is so encouraging.” The orchestra includes Douglas County Controller Claudette Springmeyer, who plays stand-up bass. “It’s a great way to relax from work, although some people might not call it relaxing,” she said. “When I play, I can’t think about anything else – not work, not anything – just the music,” Springmeyer said. “There are so many professionals in this group. We are so honored for them to allow us novices to play with them and that they put up with us,” she said. The orchestra plays an arrangement from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” “This is going to be absolutely beautiful,” assures Farnon. “No musician I know of ever made a mistake on purpose,” said Farnon at the conclusion of rehearsal. “I do love all of you and hope to see you next week.” Suggested box: If you would like to join the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra, rehearsals are Monday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the CVIC Hall in Minden. String musicians are asked to call Danny Yale, 782-7459. Anyone with a piano to donate to the CVIC Hall may call Al Sutton, 265-6931. For other information, contact Claudette Springmeyer, 782-9097 or 782-8679. Listeners are welcome at all rehearsals.

Coming Wednesday

– Planning Commission Chairwoman Nancy McDermid will challenge Janet Murphy in the race to fill the county commission seat for District 4, to be vacated by Tim Smith in January. Page A1 – Friends to wandering hikers, out-of-bounds skiers, trapped rock climbers and stranded kayakers, volunteers of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue team are there no matter how cold, dark or windy it gets. Page A1 – The AP reported that states have created loopholes in the No Child Left Behind Act to keep from reporting test scores for students belonging to certain racial or socio-economic groups. Page A1 – A Gardnerville woman will be recognized by the state Small Business Administration in Las Vegas as a home-based business champion of the year. Debra Bacchi owns The Muscle Manipulator. Page A2 – Genoans welcomed home Nevada Army National Guard pilot Dan Walters with a potluck dinner in the Town Hall on April 6. Walters served for a year in Afghanistan with the 113th Aviation Regiment. Page A2 – The Douglas County Education Foundation is seeking volunteers to help schools. Page A2 – A 29-year-old woman admitted Monday that even though she was under the influence of methamphetamine, she was aware her 14-month-old son had leg and arm fractures that went untreated for 10 days. Page A3 – Secretary of State Dean Heller was in Carson Valley on Monday gathering support for his run for Congress. Page A7 – Congressional candidate Dawn Gibbons will be in the county next month visiting both Republican women clubs and talking to the Republican Central Committee in Stateline. Page A7 – A 22-year-old Redding, Calif., man was sentenced to five years in Nevada State Prison for possession of stolen property. Page A9 – The cast of “The Odd Couple” (female version) gets ready for opening night on April 28 at the CVIC Hall in Minden. The production is presented by the Carson Valley Community Theatre group. Page B1 – The eighth annual Stars of Tomorrow Talent Competition will be held on Saturday at the CVIC Hall in Minden. A silent auction begins at 6 p.m. with the competition at 7 p.m. Page B1 – The Sierra Nevada Active 20-30 Club Spring Fashion Show Extravaganza will be 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Genoa Lakes Golf Course. Proceeds from this second annual event will be donated to Douglas County youth and their programs. Page B3 – D.J. Brady threw his second no-hitter in as many weeks for the Douglas baseball team Saturday, shutting out Hug 10-0. He struck out nine and walked one in the game. Page C1 – The Douglas softball team picked up three wins in five games at a tournament in Sacramento over the weekend. Page C1

CVIC Hall wraps up 100th birthday bash

A 100th birthday is worth a year of festivities, and the CVIC Hall ends its centennial celebration with a weekend bash Oct. 5-6 featuring a concert, dance, and a chocolate dessert bar. On Oct. 5, the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra is performing a free concert at 7 p.m. The next day, Oct. 6, the Town of Minden and the Carson Valley Arts Council are hosting a community dance that draws on the traditional “midnight dances” popular when the hall opened in 1912. “Town residents would arrive in horse-drawn carriages, dressed to impress and ready to have a good time while dancing the night away with friends,” said Jenifer Davidson, Minden town manager. “The town and the Carson Valley Arts Council invite the community to kick up your heels, and join us for the CVIC Hall birthday bash,” she said. The dance is a fundraiser for the arts council which has brought a number of quality live music acts to the hall, said Brian Fitzgerald, arts council president. Mother Mayhem, a Sacramento dance party band, is performing for the evening. Tickets are $18 with $12 from each ticket going to the arts council. Admission includes a free carriage ride around Minden Park, chocolate dessert bar and the dance. A no-host bar will be offered by Tahoe Ridge winery. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the music begins at 9 p.m. The CVIC Hall was built in 1912 after the Carson Valley Improvement Club issued 1,000 shares for $10 each to raise $10,000 to build the hall. The hall opened its doors in November 1912 with a dance. “The CVIC Hall is a shining example of what a community united by purpose can accomplish together,” Davidson said. In the past century, the hall has been used as a meeting place, movie theater, concert hall, church, and as a venue for weddings, exercise classes, art displays and a host of other activities. Next weekend’s events wrap up a year of festivities that included film festivals for children and adults and concerts celebrating the venerable hall’s status in the community. DETAILS CVIC Hall 100 years of history Carson Valley Pops Orchestra Autumn Concert, doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert at 7 p.m., Oct. 5, CVIC Hall, downtown Minden, admission free, donations accepted, no-host bar and silent auction; Birthday Bash, 8 p.m.-midnight, Oct. 6, CVIC Hall, downtown Minden, admission $18, featuring Mother Mayhem, carriage rides, chocolate dessert bar, dance, no-host bar, limited tickets, reservations 782-5976.

Sinfonia performs at CVIC Hall

The Carson Valley Sinfonia, sponsored by Friends of the Carson Valley Youth Orchestra and the Carson Valley Violin School will present its annual winter concert on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. in Minden’s CVIC Hall. The performance is open to the public without charge. The program will feature premier performances of conductor John O’Neill’s “Carson Valley Hoe-down” and “American Pioneer Suite” and the first movement of Mozart’s “Concerto No. 3 in G Major,” for violin in a performance by Brian Jaggard, one of the school’s advanced violinists. Also programmed are a movement from Mozart’s French horn concerto in a string orchestra arrangement by Gerald Doan and Percy Hall’s theme on a Scottish folk melody, “Saline.” The concert will conclude with O’Neill’s “Carols of Olde,” a 1997 Belwin-Mills publication. The Carson Valley Violin School was founded in 1992 with the help of a grant from the Carol-Franc Buck Foundation, the Douglas County Parks & Recreation Department and the Douglas County School District. The school offers lessons on orchestral string instruments to students of all ages. For information on the concert or school, 267-3495.

Art on display at CVIC Hall

More than 30 local artists are showcasing their work during the Carson Valley Day festivities at the CVIC Hall. Sheila Clement of the Carson Valley Art Association said the association has been hosting an art show during Carson Valley Days for nearly 50 years. "We wanted to make it part of the festivities and take part in local celebrations," she said. "It's a nice attraction and people get to mingle with the artists." Clements said artwork in photography, dry and water media, oil and acrylics, sculptures and ceramics will be displayed at the art show. "We have a lot of local artist and a lot of talent," she said. For Minden artist Kaleigh Surber, one of the artists who will be featured at the show, it all started when her uncle gave her a watercolor kit when she was 11. "I was always interested in the arts as a kid," said Surber. "It was after my uncle gave me the watercolors that I became really interested and started becoming more and more interested throughout school." Since then the artist has been exhibited in various venues, including the Canessa Park Gallery in San Francisco, Gallery II on Main in Grass Valley, and the Broad Street Gallery in Nevada City. The show opens to the public 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, with an artist's reception at 6 p.m. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The Carson Valley Art Association meets at 1 p.m. the fourth Friday of the month at the United Methodist Church in Gardnerville. Everyone is welcome. For more information call Nancy Bargman at 782-7074.

Dustbowl Revival at CVIC Hall

A bluegrass-rooted band is the next featured group as part of the Carson Valley Arts Council's concert series. Dustbowl Revival will play Friday at the CVIC Hall in Minden. Lauded as the "Best Live Band in LA" by LA Weekly, the Dustbowl Revival is a Venice, California-based roots collective that merges old school bluegrass, gospel, jug-band, swamp blues and the hot swing of the 1930's to form a spicy roots cocktail. Known for their inspired live sets, the Dustbowl Revival boldly brings together many styles of traditional American music. Notable performances include Mountain Song at Sea, Outside Lands Festival, San Francisco Old Time Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, KCRW Masquerade. "Imagine Old Crow Medicine Show meeting Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven Band in New Orleans or Bob Dylan and Fats Waller jamming with Mumford & Sons on a front porch in 1938," CVAC spokeswoman Sharon Schlegel said. "An eight-piece band replete with tuba, washboard, accordion, fiddle, mandolin, trumpet and guitar joyously pumped out early 20th century standards and original tunes that would have sounded utterly at home within the hallowed confines of Preservation Hall in New Orleans' French Quarter," according to LA Times. "The seven men…and two women in flapper-inspired dresses, are members of a ragtag outfit called the Dustbowl Revival, strumming, sawing and puffing enthusiastically as smiling listeners on the dance floor swung their partners infectiously." "An old-time medicine show featuring the kind of roots music that normally isn't my cup of twang, except it offered great bands like the Dustbowl Revival, whose Americana swing was so fun I went back to see them again the next day," said "Rolling Stone" Dustbowl Revival has been performing good ol' Americana since founder Z. Lupetin posted a Craigslist ad looking for musicians in 2007. Once a small string band, the eight-member group now features a wide array of instrumentation, including fiddle, mandolin, trombone, clarinet, trumpet, ukelele, drums, tuba, organ, a bass made from a canoe oar, harmonica, washboard, and kazoo. In 2010, their single "You Can't Go Back to the Garden of Eden" won the Americana Song of the Year at the Independent Music Awards. "Join us for an evening of unique blend of old school bluegrass, pre-war-blues, gospel and the hot swing of New Orleans," Schlegel said. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance; $28 at the door; and students $5. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 782-8207, at the Copeland Cultural Arts Center, 1572 Highway 395, Minden, or at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center, 1329 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville. The band's music and videos can be seen on their website at

Broadway comes to CVIC Hall

by Marabel Moorhead, special to The R-C Carson Valley Community Theatre’s production of “Broadway Through the Decades, 100 Years of Broadway Musicals” is featured at the CVIC Hall in Minden on May 14-23. The musical review includes early Broadway tunes to the latest shows performed by local talent ranging from teenagers to mature performers. “Broadway Through the Decades” is directed by Norris Edson with Carolyn Lancaster as musical director. CVCT produced 2008’s “Sounds of Broadway” at the Carson Valley Inn. “This show will be different from our first in that the artists will be singing more than one song. We have a wide variety of talented singers who can really entertain an audience” said Lancaster. Some of the favorites featured are from “Phantom of the Opera,” “South Pacific,” “Gypsy,” “Chicago,” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” The show includes two dance numbers performed by teams from All About Dance, choreographed by Serena Bartholomew. Carson Valley Community Theatre is dedicated to showcasing local talent through theater arts and musical production. “Our group’s passion is to share the great talent in this valley with theatergoers. We believe that if you have a talent, we have an avenue for you to explore. It is the community that benefits through our combined efforts,” said Edson. The Carson Valley Community Theatre group is an all-volunteer organization of 370 members with the mission to promote, create, design and perform theatrical events in Carson Valley. Performance dates are May 14-16 and 21-23 at the CVIC Hall in Minden. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Opening night includes a champagne and dessert gala for $20. General admission is $17, students and seniors for $14. Show tickets are available at the CVCT office, in the Carson Valley Arts Council building, 1572 Highway 395, Minden. Information, or (775) 720-7186. A dinner and show package is $51 ($54 for opening night) offered at Barone & Reed Restaurant, across the street from the theater. A champagne brunch and Sunday matinee show package for $33 is available at Indigo Restaurant in Minden Village.

Book sale at CVIC Hall

The Douglas County Public Library is having its annual fall book sale 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 12, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 13 at the CVIC Hall, 1602 Esmeralda Avenue in Minden. Hundreds of used books, audio books, and children’s books will be for sale. DVDs and VHS tapes will also be available. A preview will be 9-11 a.m. Nov. 12 for members of The Friends of the Douglas County Public Library. New members may participate in the preview. Visit the library on Facebook and Twitter, or, or call the library at (775) 782-9841.


Vicki Bauer and 3-year-old Ellie play turkey bingo, hosted by the Carson Valley Kiwanis, at the CVIC Hall on Saturday. Alaura Greenwalt, 9, high-fives her sister, Mckensie, during turkey bingo at the CVIC Hall on Saturday. Proceeds from the Kiwanis’ annual turkey bingo event benefit Carson Valley organizations.

Minden-Douglas Elks mark 25 years

Members of the Elks Lodge No. 2670 celebrated their silver anniversary Nov. 1 with a dinner and dance at Genoa Lakes. Over the past 25 years, the local Elks have donated over half a million dollars to our community. More than 113,000 people have participated in various activities sponsored by the club, which has logged almost 35,000 volunteer hours. The Minden-Douglas Elks have sponsored many popular fundraising events during the past year. Some you may have participated in include the five-day carnival at Lampe Park, spaghetti feed and Christmas tree bingo at the CVIC Hall during the lighting of the gazebo in Minden Park, crab feed, concession stand at each Concert in the Park, and their monthly taco nights, pancake breakfasts and birthday dinners. Their donations to our community this past year are remarkable. They provided the Christmas trees at the spaghetti feed bingo and created Christmas baskets for local needy residents. Fifth- and sixth-grade students earned cash prizes for writing patriotic essays, 550 third-graders received free dictionaries and three Douglas High seniors earned scholarships. Wheelchairs, walkers and medical aid were provided for folks in need. Additional monies were donated to Project Santa Claus, Project School Days, the Kids Fishing Derby, Student of Month/Year Programs, the basketball program through the Douglas County Parks & Recreation Department, Cub Scouts, girls’ soccer, Future Farmers, Explorer Boy Scouts and the Boys & Girls Club of Carson Valley. Youth in our community are integral to the Elks’ vision. The annual Hoop Shoot free throw contest and Soccer Shoot are always well attended and provide paid state and national trips for the winners. Their drug awareness program includes literature handouts, coloring books and bookmarks. The Elks also donate to the Nevada State Elks Major Project called Project Safe Haven, which (in conjunction with the state of Nevada) provides free lodging, food and clothing to abused children who are removed from problem homes. Veteran’s activities include visits to the Reno VA hospital with gifts, cards, clothing, cosmetic items, and companionship for the patients. Flags are provided at local cemeteries on Veterans Day. The Elks’ generosity and tireless commitment to our community have earned them the Service Club of the year award, sponsored by The Record-Courier and the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Authority. Their efforts will be recognized at a gala dinner on Saturday at Genoa Lakes. The nonprofit Elks are always seeking new members. To obtain a new membership application, contact Elks Lodge secretary Shaaron Snead at 265-4523.  n Amy Roby can be reached at