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Boomer band enthusiasm 'contagious' at Oregon Capitol

Reardon jokes: Could accomplish 'nothing else' during session


by: PHOTO COURTESY: SUZANNE STOKER - The Beat Goes On Marching Band performs at the Oregon House of Representatives opening ceremonies on May 6. Happy Valley resident Suzanne Stoker, a twirler on the all-adult marching band The Beat Goes On, had a dream to perform at this week’s Oregon House of Representatives’ opening ceremonies.

Stoker’s daughter once performed before the Oregon Legislature, so she knew that legislators go in for that sort of thing for their session openings. However, lawmakers had never hosted a large marching band, let alone a band with 250 members over 50 years old.

Stoker’s state elected official, Rep. Jeff Reardon, a Democrat who also represents East Multnomah County, agreed, upon her request, to be the sponsor for the May 6 gig. Band members were excited to get the OK to perform, but even with an exception to Oregon Legislature’s usual performance size rule, they had to limit their band way down to only about couple dozen performers.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: TBGO - Happy Valley resident Suzanne Stoker thanks State Rep. Jeff Reardon for the opportunity to perform.Stoker visited Reardon before the performance to thank him for the opportunity. The band played its eponymous tune, Sonny & Cher’s song “The Beat Goes On,” as they walked in, followed by a rendition of “American Band.” Representatives gave the band a standing ovation after it finished with the popular “Louie, Louie.”

Reardon told other legislators he was really proud to host the band and remarked after the performance, “If I have accomplished nothing else this session, well, that’s good enough, right?” The joke got a round of laughter from the audience.

After the session, The Beat Goes On gave a 45-minute performance on the steps of the capitol.

“Working on legislation business is stressful and serious,” Stoker said, “And I knew the legislators would enjoy a fun break with our wonderful, inspiring marching band. And they surely did!”

Appreciating the “extremely entertaining” way to start off a Monday, Ramona Line, chief clerk of the Oregon House, noted that only choir groups from universities and high schools have matched The Beat Goes On’s size at an opening ceremony.

“Their enthusiasm was contagious. The House would extend the invitation again” Line said.

Directed by Steve Tolopka, many of the band members are also in The One More Time Around Marching Band at the Portland Rose Parade.

“It’s a wonderful bit of Oregon history to add to the band’s collection of fun and amazing memories,” Tolopka said. “Many thanks to Representative Reardon for inviting us to Salem, and we’re thrilled that TBGO was honored as the first marching band ever to open an Oregon House session.”

The band is headed again to Canada for its first appearance at the world-famous Calgary Stampede in July, and its busy schedule is available at tbgo.org. Their capitol performances capped a busy weekend in which TBGO brought home a first-place trophy from the Loyalty Days Parade in Long Beach, Wash.

“We are old, but we are MOVING,” Stoker said.




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