Washougal musician plays mid-life melodies

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Dave Capron, of Washougal, performs vocals and plays a saxophone for the River City Band. "He is a caring, intelligent individual, an accomplished musician and writer and a good friend," said one of the band's founders Jerry Hatcher.

A Washougal resident is among a group of men who perform a variety of music from the 1950s to current hits.

Dave Capron is a member of the River City Band, which has entertained people at clubs, wedding receptions, concerts, private parties and corporate events.

Capron, 62, predominantly plays clarinet, as well as keyboards, percussion, saxophone, flute and harmonica. His musical career began in junior high and high school as a school band member.

Capron graduated from St. Helens High School, in St. Helens, Ore., in 1966. Twenty-five years later, he played in a stage band at Clark College and earned an associate of arts degree in music education.

From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, Capron sang with “The Gospel Sons.”

“We toured around the region and played in churches,” he said. “We ate far too many potlucks. They were great times though.”

During that time, Capron wrote 24 songs and played keyboard and other instruments. He also co-produced in the studio. Nine of Capron’s songs are included in a 45-song, three CD set recently released by the “Classic Gospel Sons.”

These days, Capron is enjoying the opportunity to play a variety of music.

“I like working with guys who really enjoy the music more than stroking their egos,” he said. “It’s a real team effort. Everyone is trying to complement each others’ efforts, playing with the first goal to do a faithful and enjoyable rendition of whatever song we are doing.”

Capron and his wife Victoria live in their “dream house” on the west fork of the Washougal River, just above a steel head hatchery.

“I never imagined I would get so lucky,” he said. “I happened to be at the right place at the right time, when such a property became available.”

Songs span decades

The River City Band’s song list includes “Power of Love,” “Born to be Wild,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Footloose” and a disco medley featuring songs made famous by KC and the Sunshine Band.

Bill “Bongo” Schlansky has been playing music for four decades. He was inspired by the Beatles.

Schlansky, 59, plays the drums. He has been part of the River City Band, on and off, for about 15 years.

Schlansky was among the original members of the band, along with Tego Burke on guitar, Jerry Hatcher on bass and Bill Larimer on keys.

“We play country, rock, funk, blues and standards,” Schlansky said. “I enjoy their talent and the great friendships we have.”

He described Capron as a “wonderful person with great values.”

“As a musician, Dave is a very talented multi instrument player,” Schlansky said. “Dave is a brilliant songwriter who has a sense of what sounds popular and knows how to put that across. Dave’s songs always tell a unique story that is relevant and interesting, at times humorous or sarcastic. Dave’s songs are great, great, great stuff.”

Schlansky, of Battle Ground, is the owner of an online antique and coin business.

Band members love to entertain

Hatcher is another fan of The Beatles. He has been playing music since he was 12.

Hatcher, 58, said his mother was a fan of country music.

“She liked George Jones, Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells and Jim Reeves,” he said. “She took me to see them all, plus every Saturday night in Gresham at Springer’s Ballroom we watched local legend, Buddy Simmons. She shared her love of music with me and then came The Beatles and Paul Revere and the Raiders. I had to play guitar.”

River City Band performs almost every weekend during the summer.

They are also busy performing at corporate parties during the holidays.

“We are just regular people who love to play music and entertain others,” Hatcher said. “The number one thing is we have families that support us and believe in us.

“Music is a smile for the soul,” he added. “When we connect with each other and the audience, it is a spiritual experience.”

Hatcher, of Vancouver, is a program manager for Empower Up – an electronics recycling, reuse and education non-profit organization.

Other band members include Byron Searls, of Gresham, Ore. on bass; Larimer, of Amboy, on piano; and Mark Bonney, of Lake Oswego, Ore., on guitar.

Benefit concert is set for Sunday

The River City Band will participate in a musical showcase to benefit Hatcher’s son Brady Beard. The benefit will be held Sunday.

Beard, 29, was recently hit by a car operated by an uninsured driver while crossing a street.

“He had a steel rod put in his left leg and eight screws in his left shoulder, as well as a skull fracture and many bruises,” Hatcher said. “He is staying at our house right now in a rented hospital bed in the living room, and my wife has taken off work to watch him.

“He is doing much better each day, and we are so blessed that he will be ok. It could have been much worse.”