People arriving or leaving the Turlock Public Library on Wednesday evenings may have found themselves tapping their toes to the sounds of jazz music. For those who have wondered where the music comes from, it stems from Ingram’s Big Band playing inside the Turlock Senior Center.
Since the late 1980s, Ingram’s Big Band has allowed community members to come together and play their favorite tunes. For decades, the Senior Center would be filled with musicians playing for large crowds, allowing them to dance through the night, but since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, numbers have dwindled. It is a problem that band members are hoping to finally solve in 2023.
Ginger Nagy has been a member of Ingram’s Big Band since the band’s early days, as she would accompany her husband to the weekly gatherings. She believes that the main reason for the low participation is a lack of awareness and inconvenience for many seniors.
“Since COVID, people just haven’t come back,” she said. “One of the biggest things I feel is that people just don’t know about us. We also meet in the middle of the week at a time that’s not the best for everyone.”
And it’s not just the band who has experienced this issue. During the Senior Center’s 60-year anniversary celebration last month, President Karen Valek said that participation in other weekly activities has decreased dramatically, as some members have passed away and that many seniors remain hesitant to return to large gatherings.
“Oh, the room used to be filled with people dancing, but now hardly anybody comes to dance or watch us, and it’s kind of sad, to be honest with you,” Nagy said. “Right now, we have around 14 to 15 people in the band, and we’re looking for more people to come join us… We’re lucky if we get a whole crew.”
The band currently has room for at least one more trombone player, one more trumpet player and two more saxophone players.
“We know that there are players and dancers out there,” said band member Bob Butler. “We just need to let them know that we’re here and get them in.”
The band name honors the late Jim Ingram, a musician originally from the Bay Area who also served as a B-17 pilot. Ingram moved to Turlock in the 1980s and was the first to bring live music to the Senior Center.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, the band will be taking a month-long break and plans to return to the Senior Center on Jan. 4.
“I think it makes you a better person, I think it makes you a better student, and if you have music in your life, it makes it fun to be around people, so I encourage anyone to stop by,” Nagy said.
Those interested in joining, watching or dancing with the band can swing by the Senior Center every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or contact band leader Tracy Bondi by phone at (209) 988-4950 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.