The Minidoka Swing Band

The Minidoka Swing BandThe Portland-based Minidoka Swing Band was formed in September 2007, as a tribute to Japanese Americans interned during World War II and to highlight the music popular in the Internment Camps. In this episode, Alexis and Steph interview four members of the band.

Doug Katagiri is from Portland, Oregon. His parents and grandparents were all imprisoned in camps during World War II. His participation in the Minidoka Swing Band is a tribute to honor all those who had to endure the camp experience and survive the irreversible disruption of their lives.

He has played guitar since the folk and garage band craze of the 1960s, although he was only introduced to big band music when Robbie Tsuboi recruited him to be one of the original members of the Minidoka Swing Band. He currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon, works as a graphic designer at the Oregon Zoo, plays rock and blues in several “geezer” bands, drums in an Irish bagpipe band, and sings in an a cappella quartet.

While most people from Washington/Oregon people were interned in Minidoka, Larry Nobori’s family was interned in Jerome Ark for 6-8 months during WWII. As an adult, he has returned to his roots as a Japanese American through his role as the director and charter member of the Minidoka Swing Band. Along with his brother, George, he has been able to relive the music of the Internment Camps by way of George Yoshida’s book “Reminiscing In Swingtime.” In addition, he is working with former state poet laureate, Lawson Inada, with a program called “Sentimental Journey”, in which they infuse jazz with poetry to tell the story of internment. Lastly, he is producing a new CD featuring Lawson Inada and his poetry. It will be called “Nihon-machi” or Japanese market place. It also features the band, vocal soloist, and Lawson’s poetry.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1938 to a Japanese American father and Chinese American mother, Nola Bogle grew up in a musical environment. Her parents, Don and Pil Sugai, loved music from Andy Russell, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Billy Eckstine. During World War II she and her family were interned at Minidoka, Idaho. There she remembers hearing big bands and singers performing over the radio. Throughout her life she has stayed connected to music.

Nola moved to Portland, OR in 1964, where she met, worked for, and subsequently married Sidney Porter. Porter was a pianist who owned his own jazz club, called Sidney’s. After Sidney’s death in 1970, she continued to work in music. She finally retired in 1973, returning to office work and raising her two daughters, Ericka and Tiffany. In 1976 she met, and later married Dick Bogle, then the first African American Television News anchor. They were married for 33 years, and their blended family boasts 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

In 1999, she met Portland jazz pianist Darrell Grant, then Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Portland State University, and with him recorded her first CD. In 2008, Robbie Tsuboi asked her to join the Minidoka Swing Band as one of their vocalists. Now in 2018, she has equated over five decades of entertaining on stage with some time outs for marriage and raising her two beautiful daughters. And, she’s still at it!!

Laura Baxter was asked by founder of the Minidoka Swing Band, to Robbie Tsuboi to take over the management of the band when she became ill with cancer. Unfortunately, Robbie succumbed to the cancer shortly thereafter in 2009. Laura’s husband, son, and brother-in-law are all members of the band, so it was a natural fit with family members already involved.

Her experience of working as an Administrative Assistant and in accounts receivable with the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and her years as the Volunteer Manager of the Oregon International Air Show is a great help with the position. Laura loves her involvement with the Japanese American community and the history of Japanese American WWII Internment.

Roll credits:

Today’s show was produced by Steph Routh and Alexis Gabriel. Music is by Breuss Arrizabalaga Quintet. You can find us on our Facebook page and on Twitter @whyisntanyone.

If you liked this show, help us keep it going by donating via our website, whyisntanyone.com, where you can also leave us comments, questions, and ideas for future topics. Check out the people who have supported us on Crowdrise!

We are a project of Umbrella, a Portland-based nonprofit that encourages community-based street culture. We record from the delightful Airstream-now-studio, StreamPDX.

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