For the fun to continue, Geneseo Kitchen Band needs members

Lisa Depies
The Geneseo Kitchen Band performs Tuesday, Aug. 14 at Liberty Village, in Geneseo. Members include, front row, from left: Mary 
Jugenheimer, John Jugenheimer, March Lach, Shelia Henson and Ruth DeKezel. Back row, from left: Mary Rizzolo, Helen Shane, Phyllis Pogorzelski, Sharon Rauch and Joan Emerick.

They may be called the Geneseo Kitchen Band, but for members, the focus is on fun.

“We always have fun when we’re playing. We have fun when we’re not playing, too. We just enjoy each other’s company,” said long-time member Sharon Rauch.

Numbers in the kitchen band have dwindled over the years, and the group is seeking more members to join in the fun.

“We can’t help but have a good time when we’re together,” said Rauch.

In the 1980s, when the Geneseo Community Center first opened, Neva Mallison created both a choir and kitchen band in conjunction with the senior center.

The choir eventually merged with the kitchen band to form the group that still plays today.

“We’re called the Geneseo Kitchen Band because of the instruments we use, like spoons, a wash board and a wash basin,” said Rauch.

“The Geneseo Kitchen Band is a group of mostly older or retired folks who grew up at a time when singing songs was done just for the fun of it,” said member Mary Lach.

The group specializes in the “old sing-a-long songs” of the 1930s to the 1950s, said Lach.

Though they’re a band, musical know-how is not required to participate.

“As long as you enjoy music, we don’t care if you sing on key or off key,” said Rauch.

The group has a pianist, accordion player and guitar player, and other members add to the tune with kitchen or homemade instruments.

The Geneseo Kitchen Band performs regularly for area nursing homes, church groups and organizations. The band also performs at the Geneseo Christmas Walk.

“We did about 95 performances last year,” said Lach.

The band carpools to venues in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

“Our shows usually last 45 minutes to an hour and the songs in general revolve around a theme, the season or a certain holiday,” said Lach.

“When we go to new places, some might be leery of our group because of the name,” said Rauch. “Once we start performing, you see toes tapping and smiles. That’s why you do it, you want to sing and play for the audience.”

Mixed in with the Geneseo Kitchen Band’s musical repertoire are skits and interludes.

“Certain song lyrics lend themselves to a role played by a skit by a few members who feel moved to add costume and a bit more variety to the show,” said Lach, adding participation in the skits isn’t required.

“People like to see us acting goofy. We’re just a bunch of hams,” said Lach.

She first joined the group after watching them perform at the Christmas Walk.

“It looked like they were having fun, and I wanted to meet new people,” she explained.

The group practices every Monday at 1 p.m. in the senior room at the Geneseo Community Center.

There’s no age restriction for members, but Lach said most “tend to be retired or have available time during the day.”

Some members might strive to be at every event while others are only able to make certain practices or performances.

“Our group is like a family. You get to know one another and care for one another. It’s nice to know you belong,” said Lach. “Even if you’re feeling sad, once you start singing songs, things don’t feel so bad. Music brings up positive thoughts.”

“There’s laughter and lightheartedness,” said Rauch. “It makes you feel good.”

Both women said they don’t want to see the Geneseo Kitchen Band come to an end, but fear without additional members the band’s days may be few.

“If we don’t get new members, then the group is going to die,” said Lach. “We want to give it that spark to keep going.”

Following each rehearsal, the group has a social time with refreshments.

“Please consider giving us a look and a try,” said Lach, who said those interested in joining the group are invited to attend a rehearsal.