Robert Lake

Bob retired from teaching in the Edina Schools in 1999 after 31 years there.  He currently performs with the Encore Wind Ensemble and the Star of the North Concert Band as well as the Minnesota Jazz Orchestra.   He says, I also play with the almost gone Whoopee John Band.

My Father, Walter E. Lake, was Fort Dodge H.S. Band/Orch. Director from 1946 to 1963 and played in the King Band during those years. I grew-up walking to the old Lincoln School.  We lived south of Main St. next to the now South Jr. High!   This walk took me past & often through the King Music Store.  I would often stop to talk with Karl, as he was my friend, and he was always very glad to spend a few minutes talking with me, a 3-5th grader. I also remember attending many concerts in the Town Square on Thursday nights and Sunday nights during the summer at Oleson Park Band Shell, & winter concerts at the High School, now North Jr. High - last I knew!  I played Clarinet in the King Band starting in 8th Grade, and worked my way up to Solo Clarinet in later H.S.   This was circa '55-'61!  Jerry Jimmerson is a year or two younger!  I soloed with the Band one summer, playing Weber's 1st Clarinet Concerto.  Max King was the top Clarinet during many of those years.   I was always disappointed that I became 16 (Union age) the exact year that King Band stopped playing the Iowa State Fair!!


I remember attending rehearsals with Karl sitting on a stool with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and the ash getting inches long before it finally fell off!   I remember "Stub" Hemphill - Bari Sax - and his rendition of  Cello Solos on Classic Symphony Selections!


Karl loved the bass drum to play the accents, and he would often be heard to say, Hit the Gawd Damn thing!  More than once, when someone fell into a rest, I heard him say, We pay you to play the Notes, not the Rests!


He was a most generous man. When I moved from Iowa to teach in Edina, MN, I was about to be drafted in 1968, and Karl wrote a letter:  To any Director in the U.S. Armed Forces:  Robert Lake is a fine clarinetist, and has performed well in my band and knows much of the standard literature. Please give him an Audition!   Signed:  Karl L. King.   I cannot tell you how much that meant to me at that "Vietnam" time.  I treasure that note, although I didn't have to use it as I served 26 years with the Minnesota Army National Guard & Army Reserve Bands!


One other Karl story:  Karl was not pleased with the Wind Band Literature written in the '60's!    He said, I never hear a good melody!  They were quite different than any Karl wrote!


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