BOOK REVIEW: 'Boise Pops' captures the city's musical heritage

jhildreth@idahostatesman.comJuly 7, 2013 

  • 'BOISE POPS' by J. Meredith Neil; 55 Productions ($20)

"Boise Pops: A Century of Music for the People of Boise" by J. Meredith Neil is a 128-page book with 140 photos that chronicles Boise's popular musical heritage, 1910-2010.

The publisher, 55 Productions, is a nonprofit founded by members of the Boise High School class of 1955 to promote local history, art and culture.

My take: "Boise Pops" is a diligently researched compendium of Treasure Valley's love affair with music over the past century. It is a Who's Who of people many of us grew up with, events we attended and sessions in which we participated. Even those too young to have known local musicians such as Gib Hochstrasser or Paul Revere and the Raiders reap the benefits of their contributions to our music scene.

The photos are as great as the text, showing program covers from a century of concerts, buildings that were popular venues for music groups in the early 20th century and long-ago music groups such as the Gem Dandies and Bill Jamison's German Band.

For me, growing up in the Boise school music system in the '60s, it was a delight to see former teachers lauded for their contributions. Burt Burda and Henry Von der Heide are two I knew well in the teacher/student relationship.

All of my musical memories and adolescent experiences - choir competitions, orchestra concerts, girls chorale - are right there between the pages of the book.

As a child, I assumed that everyone spent Saturday mornings watching marionette shows at Boise High's auditorium, learning pitch and scales in their second-grade music classes and playing the violin in the fifth grade as an orchestral rite of passage.

Neil shared history about our city and music that is easily forgotten, and I am grateful he has annotated it for future generations. We reap the legacy of city leaders who early in the century realized that music brings people together and diligently worked to see that it remained accessible to all of the citizens.

My Rating: 5 out of 5.

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