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A Toe-Tapping Farewell

Community: The 'official band' of Manhattan Beach stages a concert in memory of founding member and vocalist Jules Radinsky.

January 14, 2002|JEAN MERL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Hyperion Outfall Serenaders, Manhattan Beach's beloved "official band" for more than a quarter of a century, gathered late Sunday afternoon at a local watering hole to say goodbye to one of their founding members, vocalist Jules Radinsky. And they did it with a pack-the-house, rollicking memorial concert, long on laughter and short on tears.

A crowd made up mostly of silver-haired folks filled all the seats at Suzy's--a bar and grill in a Hermosa Beach strip mall anchored by a Pic 'N' Save--and overflowed onto the sidewalk outside. Through the open doors, the strains of "California, Here I Come," "Ja Da" and "The Beer Barrel Polka," punctuated by cheers and clapping from the audience, washed over the parking lot.

"Jules would have loved it," bandleader Bob White of Manhattan Beach said.

The celebration was planned to commemorate Radinsky's 91st birthday this month. But the purpose changed with Radinsky's death from an apparent heart attack Dec. 30 on Catalina Island, where the band has gone annually for a decade to play on New Year's Eve.

Radinsky, a former director of the Seattle Pops and Seattle Summer Symphony, had lived in the South Bay for nearly 40 years and was one of the original members of the Dixieland-style band, which formed in 1969 and playfully took its name from the sewage treatment facility on the beach just north of town. Radinsky and his fellow band members, most of whom are in their 60s or 70s, soon became a fixture in the region, playing at 10K runs, community parades and pancake breakfasts, ribbon-cuttings, anniversary celebrations, weddings and, occasionally, funerals.

The band, which describes its repertoire as "happy, toe-tapping stuff," developed a reputation for its sense of sometimes-irreverent fun, and nobody enjoyed the gigs more than Radinsky, friends and fellow musicians said.

Which may have accounted for the decidedly upbeat tone of Sunday's concert.

"He was almost 91, he went quickly, and he was on his way to a gig, which he loved," Billie Green, wife of the band's banjo player, Jimmy Green, said as she sipped wine and ate nachos at a table near the back of the room.

Ethel Pattison, wife of clarinetist Sid Pattison, concurred.

"It seems different not to see him up there," she said, as band members, dressed in pale pink dress shirts, burgundy ties and khaki slacks, took their places on the small stage, their familiar blue banner hanging on a side wall.

"But we can be grateful for having him with us for so long, and that he had a great way to go," Pattison added.

In the audience were Radinsky's three daughters, at least one grandchild and Mary Lewis, his companion of more than 20 years. Well-wishers hugged Lewis, greeted other family members and swapped memories. Several former band members showed up and joined current ones on stage.

And, underlying the celebratory tone of the gathering, there were some poignant moments. After a couple of warmup numbers, White welcomed the crowd, and the band opened the set with a long rendition of "When You're Smiling." It had been one of Radinsky's favorites, White explained, and he had always provided the vocals.

On Sunday, however, the band played the song as an instrumental. Nobody even tried to fill in for Radinsky on that one.

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