Serving the community

Music Unites us

The goals of the Atascadero Community Band are to provide a place for local musicians to meet and practice concert band music, to support and promote basic music education, to serve the community by the performance of band concerts, and to assist local non-profits by donation revenue collected from concerts throughout each year.

OUR history

Community band is for everyone

Atascadero Community Band was formed out of a grass roots effort spearheaded by a local musician.  According to scrapbook records, Anne Tognazzini approached Bob Best, Department Head of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Atascadero at the time, about starting a community band. The Atascadero Recreation Department publicized the event in the local media.  Anne Tognazzini, a baritone saxophone player and founding member of the Morro Bay Community Band (now known as Morro Bay White Caps), eventually connected with Gil Dovalina, a sax player on staff with the Atascadero Recreation Department. Tognazzini and Dovalina, along with a small group of interested musicians, met for the first time at the Atascadero High School in September 1985.  It was at this first organizational meeting that the local musicians agreed that the mission and purpose of the Atascadero Community Band would be to perform diverse genres of music, composers, and arrangements in a variety of venues within the community.

By word of mouth the band membership grew steadily, first performing for the Atascadero Tree Lighting ceremony at the City Administration Building in December 1985.  The Atascadero Historical Society hosted a reception in the museum following the lighting of the trees. 
(Atascadero News, Dec. 11, 1985)

The location of rehearsals quickly changed to the Atascadero Junior High School. When the first summer came, and the junior high closed, the band rehearsed and performed at the Atascadero Lake Park Pavilion on Tuesday evenings from 7-9 p.m, a tradition that we continue to uphold to this day. In June 1986, Sam Shliff was acknowledged as the first official Director of Atascadero Community Band. June 28, 1986 also marked the first performance of the Atascadero Community Band at the Atascadero Lake Park on a Saturday afternoon.  The Atascadero News reported about 200 people attended a free concert, part of the 1986 Concerts in the Park Series offered by the Atascadero Recreation Department, and the wineries of Paso Robles.  The band played music by John Phillip Sousa, Henry Mancini, and others.

As requests to perform all over the county of San Luis Obispo increased and band membership continued to grow, the city grant funding declined, prompting the founding members of the band to pursue incorporating as a tax-exempt entity.  In 1991, the Atascadero Community Band officially became an independent corporation as a nonprofit Public Benefit corporation. 

About 1994, George Beatie, a retired music professor from Cal Poly, took over the directorship of Atascadero Community Band, leading the band into even more sophisticated directions, including the purchasing of new music and working in collaboration with the Atascadero Kiwanis to expand the bandstand at the Lake Park. A gift that continues to keep giving each and every summer in our 90+ degree heat!

In the new millennium, Ernie Kapphahn and Charlie Buck shared the conducting honors. Charlie Buck directed the 70 plus all-volunteer band through four thematic indoor benefit concerts, a joint Atascadero Middle School and Atascadero Community Band performance, and the magical Tuesday Evenings in the Park, a 10-11 week summer series of one hour performances (from 7-8 p.m.) followed by rehearsal (from 8-9 p.m.) on Tuesday nights at the Atascadero Lake Park in the city of Atascadero, California. 

The band was joined by conductor Randy Schwalbe from approximately 2016, through the turbulent COVID years. Desperate to continue meeting and performing once the county health department gave the green light, the band agreed to rehearse outside on the labyrinth at the UMC Church of Atascadero. Braving extremes of heat, then winter weather, until schools reopened and the band was allowed back in their “home” rehearsal spot in the Atascadero High School band room. The very first concert post-COVID took place on the steps of the Atascadero City Hall, in March of 2021, keeping the audience a safe distance away from the band and wind instruments. By the indoor concert season of 2022, the band was back performing at regular concert locations, happy to return to a somewhat regular schedule.

September 2023 brought changes to the conductor podium, as they welcomed guest conductors Carol Kouklis and Justin Larson for the Fall concert, joined by Rich Smucker as an additional conductor for the 2023 Holiday concert. In 2024, the band’s Artistic Committee continues to select fantastic and exciting new music programs, attracting a wonderful array of local present and retired band directors as guest conductors for the ACB.

The band continues to be true to its original mission and purpose of promoting the public appreciation of band music, providing a venue to assist and advance local musicians, benefitting other local charitable and educational organizations via band music concerts.  The difference between the Atascadero Community Band and others is simple: everyone is welcome. There are no auditions to participate, it is free to join, and there is no baseline for skill level. If a member of the community owns an instrument and wants to become a member, they simply need to contact the band and arrange to come to a rehearsal. The band chooses music that is approximately middle school level in difficulty. There is ample encouragement for everyone, whether a musician is a current working professional, someone who has stepped away from practicing for the past 30 years, or is a current student. All are welcome.

The content of the music is of a diverse and entertaining nature, and the band is 100% dependent on the generous financial contributions of its loyal and appreciative audience. Many of the band’s members have participated for over thirty years.  ACB has given financial grants to many local charitable organizations over the years including EL Camino Homeless Organization, the Women’s Shelter, Paso Robles Youth Arts Center, and various local school groups.

Historical records coordinated by Kent Cope DDS, MJ Basti, and Rhonda Rivera.


2023-2024 Board of Directors

Joyce Rabellino – President
Beth Bean – Vice President
Kathy Chapman – Treasurer
Carol Kouklis – Secretary
Eric Klasey – Member-At-Large