Klaberheads to mark 85th anniversary

HAMILTON – The Klaberheads (also known as The Franz Klaber Orchestra) will host a gala on Saturday, April 25 at Hamilton’s Courtyard by Marriott to celebrate the band’s 85th anniversary. The party will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

“We are so proud of the fact that we’ve kept the band going for 85 continuous years, and that it is family led is very special and unique,” said the band’s leader, Erika Klaber. “The last time we did something like this was 10 years ago for the 75th anniversary, and we wanted to do it again. We feel like we’re the best we’ve ever been, musically.”

The Hamilton, Ohio-based band was started by Franz Klaber, Sr. in 1930 as a five-piece act. Klaber, a German immigrant from the Saxony region of Germany, taught himself to play stringed instruments even before he owned an instrument.

“It’s quite an achievement that we’ve continuously been playing music in the area for 85 years, and we wanted to celebrate that,” Klaber said.

Erika said her grandfather’s vision was to create a band that mixed popular music with traditional German songs. His sons, Bill and Franz Klaber, Jr. both joined the band while they were in junior high school. Franz Jr. took over the band in his early 20’s after Franz Sr.’s died in 1963. Under his leadership, the band affectionately became known as The Klaberheads.

Erika has continued to build upon the long-lasting vision and timeless tradition that was started by her father and grandfather. She plays steel drum in the band. The band’s musical repertoire has also been expanded by adding original music to the 12-piece line-up, which includes three trumpets, three saxophones and a rhythm section.

Four generations strong, Erika’s daughter, Emily Muench, performs regularly with the group, and several of Franz Jr.’s and Bill’s children and grandchildren have been apprentices and active members.

The band will perform a variety of musical styles, along with some of its original music. Audiences will hear everything from Big Band, swing, pop, rock and country to German songs. Fourth generation members will also be performing at the event. There will be former members in attendance as well as a media presentation, Klaber said.

“I am looking forward to celebrating the band, and all that we’ve accomplished. It’s an exciting time for us. It’s a legacy that continues to bring good music, fellowship and a good time to an audience. It’s so neat that our family is able to bring that to an event,” she said.

With an extensive touring schedule, the group performs locally and regionally at Oktoberfest celebrations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Lexington, Minster, Maysville and Owensboro. On a national scale, the band has also performed at Disney’s Epcot Center and Yuenglings Oktoberfest in Bethlehem, Penn. Most recently, they played at Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas, one of the nation’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations.

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