It's got the band covered

Tom Ridley may be happier than anyone to have an inflatable shell covering the stage during the Huntington Beach Concert Band's shows in Huntington Central Park.

Five years ago, the city's Rotary Club bought the shell, which forms a massive arch over the heads of the 70-odd band members. This year, the club raised additional money to pay city employees to mount the shell and take it down at each of the 11 Sunday summer concerts.

Ridley, the band's director for 33 years, knows how important covering can be for a band — especially the upright horn players. When he took the helm of the band in 1977, the players made do at the amphitheatre at Golden West College, which proved to have seasonal difficulties.

"We were standing under the eucalyptus trees, trying to keep the acorns from falling into the tubas," Ridley said.

The summer concert series soon moved to Central Park, and Sunday afternoon, Ridley and company will start their 38th season with "Red, White and Blue," a program of patriotic American classics. Members of the public are invited to bring tables, chairs, blankets and picnic dinners to the 90-minute show.

Every year, the Concert Band performs two shows at the park and sponsors shows by a litany of other groups. Among this year's lineup are the Swing Cats, who will play a set of big band music July 4, the Los Angeles Police Swing Band, the Cuban-style Orchestra Charangoa and Henebry's 1920s Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra, which re-creates the style of Golden Age of Radio.

Linda Couey, the band's general manager and a clarinet player, said the shows typically bring a wide array of Surf City residents.

"It truly spans the generations," she said. "We get everything from one person to a whole family to an organization or a church. We get everyone from little kids who like to dance up front to people on walkers."

If You Go

What: Huntington Beach Concert Band presents "Red, White and Blue"

Where: Huntington Central Park, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

Info: (714) 846-3476 or

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