From local high school bands to the big bands that used to roll through town, a new book highlights all of Altoona's most memorable musical memories.
The "Altoona Scrapbook of Musical Memories," written by Altoona native Herman Nagle and researched by fellow native Jim Daski, takes a collective history of jazz, dance, rock 'n' roll and all other genres and bands since 1900 and compiles it into a nearly 500-page tribute to Altoona's music history.
"Some of the information is in other publications, but there was a lot of loose-gathered information that was never recorded, so to speak," said Daski, who himself was a musician for 24 years in a local band called The Nocturnes.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
(From left) Herman Nagle of Altoona, Jim Snyder of?Hollidaysburg and Jim Daski of Altoona pose with a copy of a book they produced, documenting local music groups that have performed in Altoona over the years. Sales of the book, titled “The Altoona Scrapbook of Musical Memories,” will benefit the Blair County Genealogical Society. Nagle and Daski collaborated on the book, while Snyder, recording secretary, represents the genealogical society, who published the book.
"There's been so many musicians in Altoona who never really had much of a recognition. ... This publication will recognize them, and show their legacy."
It took Daski and Nagle about 10 months to compile the information and write the book. Nagle said he did most of the writing and the layout on his home computer.
"I only have one phone line, so when my computer is on, my wife can't take phone calls," Nagle said. "And she's on me all the time."
"I'd say Herman probably lives on that computer, pretty much," Daski added.
The two took many submissions from locals who knew or had photographs of bands from past decades. Nagle also did research on his own by going through online archives of the Altoona Mirror.
"As much history as [this book] has collected, there's that much more out there," Daski said. "A lot of people promised things but didn't get them to me in time."
When confronted with the decision of how to best publish it, they reached out to the Blair County Genealogical Society in Hollidaysburg. The society published the book, and because the two writers didn't want to make a personal profit from its sale, all of the proceeds from the $30 price tag benefit the society.
"It's just nicer for everybody to do it this way," Nagle said. "It benefits somebody."
Jim Snyder, recording secretary for the genealogical society, said "Musical Memories" has gotten one of the best responses out of the 164 publications the society has sold. He added that the society is appreciative of Nagle and Daski's contributions because it is a self-supportive organization.
"We're all volunteers, we raise all of our own money and there's no grants or anything," he said. "Book sales are a third of our income. That keeps the lights on in here."
Nagle said about 50 or 60 copies of the book were sold even before any public announcement was made about its release. Its success has the two toying with the idea of releasing a second volume etime in the near future.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.