Girls, too! But you say you didn’t know the Oak Lawn Band was still around? After its 30th anniversary concert this weekend, that should change
OAK LAWN BAND
Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. May 15 at 7 p.m. $10. OakLawnBand.org.
Especially in the gay world, 30 is a landmark birthday — it’s that launching pad age where one gets it all together. (It’s also when twinks stop hitting on you in the bars, but that’s another article.)
That certainly proves true for the Oak Lawn Band. After 30 years in the community, it celebrates this weekend with sights focused on the future while keeping the music fun.
"We want to be known as the Oak Lawn Band that is musically awesome," says Tim Stallman, president of the band.
Fair enough. When Stallman became the organization’s president along with the selection of the new board officers for 2010, the band overhauled its direction. First among the goals: Reminding the community who they were.
"A lot of people didn’t know the band was still around or that Dallas had a band," Stallman says. "They thought we either died or folded. For the longest time, the band played four concerts a year with the same 60 or so members in the audience."
Stallman, a member of OLB for two years, brought with him a lot of experience when he was transferred here for work. He founded bands in San Diego and Rochester, N.Y., and was a drum major in Washington, D.C. His work as a project manager also gave him the know-how to help drive OLB into a more active future, starting with the band’s mission and working to build a solid foundation.
"Sometimes when a band has been around for a long time, they lose their focus," he says. "We refreshed our mission statement to clarify what our mission was. In trying to be more inclusive through the years, people felt we were getting away from LGBT community. We decided to identify that as who we are and where our community is."
This past year alone, the OLB partnered with local agencies, performing at high-profile events such as the Resource Center Dallas’ Oscar party, the Bloomin’ Ball and LifeWalk, and a walk in the Pride parade after a two-year absence.
They even found a home — at Holy Trinity Church. Instead of relying on a salon in North Dallas to house their archives and a school in East Dallas for rehearsal, the church has donated space for the OLB’s Monday night rehearsals and library. Now that the band is officially and centrally located, it’s easier to concentrate on the future.
But that doesn’t mean forgetting the past — Mason Tripp won’t let that happen. As the band’s historian (he’s been with it since the beginning), he’s been collecting everything over its three decades, compiling an album archive for each year.
Despite Stallman’s shorter tenure, he has an inherent pride in what the band has achieved over its course — most notably, playing for President Obama as part of his inauguration last year. (The band played for both of Clinton’s inaugurals, too, but they were more on the sidelines.) They have performed in most Gay Games around the world and join in Houston’s Pride parade every year. It’s almost as if the Oak Lawn Band has a presence everywhere … except Dallas. But that’s gonna change.
"We plan to focus on making sure we’ll be around in the next 30 years," Stallman says. "We’re going to get back to basics and work on reestablishing our place here. You know, our main goal is to play good music every year, but we also want to be something the community will be proud of."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 14, 2010.