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Bonterra Band Finds Groove Amid Pandemic
January 13, 2021
You just can’t keep a good band down.
About 18 months ago, music-loving residents of Bonterra at Cross Creek Ranch — the community’s 55+ active adult neighborhood — got together to form a music club. Several had not picked up their instruments in years — decades — and were happy to have a reason to again play music.
The band’s six members comprise two guitarists, one keyboardist, one lead vocalist (with two back-ups), one bassist and a drummer, Liqin Adams, who also plays violin. The youngest of the group, Liqin also began playing music earlier than most of her bandmates, starting violin at age 8 and then learning the drums in college.
After a few months, said band leader Mike Wilson, Lifestyle Director Amy Hooper asked if they would play at the 2019 Christmas party. And that’s when things got serious.
“That Christmas concert really got us going,” said Mike, who plays keyboards and sings. “We now had a goal — to put together a whole band.”
The band started practicing for several hours each Monday, curating a set of 14 holiday tunes they hoped would please the crowd.
“That first Christmas concert, everyone had a wonderful time,” said Sharon Gorman, vocalist.
The evening’s hit was an interactive rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas.
“Every table had to sing or act out one of the days of Christmas,” Mike said. “It was hysterically funny and turned out really well.”
“We set the bar high with that performance and knew we would have to work to meet expectations,” said Greg Ehmann, who started off with guitar, but now plays bass with the band.
The group began working on three sets of a variety of songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s, as well as some Southern rock and country favorites. They intended to play at the Bonterra clubhouse during the spring and summer of 2020.
And then the pandemic hit.
“We couldn’t do anything,” Greg said.
After a few months of not playing, Sharon asked if there was a way to practice online. Greg did the groundwork and then Greg and Mike had several virtual practices after purchasing hardware and installing software to figure things out. It was easier said than done.
“Everyone needed the right hardware — a USB audio interface,” Greg said. “I also found a cloud-based application. So I told everyone, ‘Here’s what you need to practice virtually.’ It was also what every band, school and music teacher in the nation was looking for. Needless to say, the equipment was hard to get.”
Even after everything came in, hesitant internet connections sometimes interfered with rehearsals.
Then someone in the group suggested outdoor rehearsals. And Amy again asked the group to play the Christmas concert, which this year was an outdoor, come-and-go event.
“The few weeks before the concert, we would meet at the clubhouse and sit outside where it wasn’t too windy, cold or rainy to rehearse,” Mike said.
“I didn’t realize how much I had missed it,” said Jack Parker, who started playing guitar at age 13 and even performed in a duo in the ‘70s. Before the Bonterra band, it had been 25 years since he last played.
“It’s been so much fun.”
The day of their second Christmas concert proved to not be too chilly — or windy — and the group played for four hours, taking 10- to 15-minute breaks between sets. While playing, they collected tips for the Fulshear Police Department’s “Christmas with a Cop” project, raising $595.
“People came and went, tables were spread out — we had fun,” Jack Parker said.
“A lot of people came up and said they thought we sounded better this year than last,” Mike said. “They were very kind.”
Encouraged by the reception and the fact they can play outside comfortably, the Bonterra band has high hopes for the future, including another outdoor event in April and more to come throughout the year.
“I’m really excited to be doing this again,” said Jack Hakala, a guitarist who has played for about 30 years with a couple of bands. “I’m excited about moving forward and it’s great to be part of the community band.”
“It makes it all worthwhile to see people smiling — especially during times like these,” Jack Parker said.