Band plays happy joyful music

Kelsey and Natalie Kepple, left, Garrett and Austin Hagwood, Keely Nesbit, Nathan and Chris Retallack and Emmanuel and Alex Lemnah, front, pose after their benefit performance Dec. 27, 2012, at the Town Hall Theatre in Quincy. Photos by Graham Shea
 Laura Beaton
Staff Writer

  The Happy Happy Joy Joy Family Band members played their young hearts out to a packed crowd Dec. 27, 2012, at the Town Hall Theatre in Quincy.

  The spirited performances from this talented group of local musicians in their late teens and early 20s ran the gamut from bluegrass and folk to original compositions, pop rock, rap, poetry/comedy, standards and jazz.

  Photographer Graham Shea said of the group, “Even as familiar as I am with the talent of all of them, I was blown away by what they put together and how professionally they pulled off a successful concert.

  “I had a great time,” Shea concluded.

  The concert, filmed by friend Lucas Brown, of Portola, can be viewed on YouTube. Part 1 is at and Part 2 is at

  During the course of the three-set performance, the audience experienced many configurations and combinations of the nine members of the band.

  Four pairs of siblings — Austin and Garrett Hagwood, Kelsey and Natalie Kepple, Alex and Emmanuel Lemnah and Chris and Nathan Retallack — along with Keely Nesbit, joined musical and creative forces to raise $700 for the family of the late Milissa Bridges through the Tru Community Foundation.

  The concert was organized by Emmanuel Lemnah from his home near Chattanooga, Tenn., where he is a religious studies and outdoor recreation leadership major at Southern Adventist University.

  Lemnah’s mother, Helene, proposed the idea to her son after community members expressed an interest to hear the Happy Happy Joy Joy Family Band play again.

  The band’s debut performance was June 14, 2012, at the first Quincy Certified Farmers’ Market of the 2012 season. The group formed as an offshoot of opening band Toboggan Squad, comprised of Emmanuel Lemnah, Chris Retallack and Keely Nesbit.

  The trio performed a benefit show last year in conjunction with Feather River College’s Students in Free Enterprise group (now Enactus). From there the Happy Happy Joy Joy Family Band took shape.

  Band members range in age from 17 to 23, and include two high school students. Other members of the band attend colleges scattered throughout the country.

  Lemnah began coordinating the event about a month before it occurred. He worked closely with Roxanne Valladao, executive director of Plumas Arts. The band began practicing just a week before the show.

  The band’s rehearsal on the day of the show was compromised by a power outage in Quincy that lasted several hours. Instead of rehearsing on the stage, band members braved the cold of the outdoor foyer of the theatre.

  Many of the performers are adept at several instruments, and together they played more than a dozen, including accordion, banjo, bass, cello, drums, guitar, keyboards, mandolin, saxophone, trumpet, violin and percussion.

  Toboggan Squad opened the show with their acoustic folk set, showcasing guitar, voice and original and folk tunes.

  Then the main attraction took to the stage, in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Vocal and instrumental harmonies, accompanied by accomplished musicianship, delighted the audience.

  “For me personally, it was such an awesome opportunity to give back to the community that inspired us,” Emmanuel Lemnah said.

  “To see all the great shows growing up — it was awesome, just incredible.”

  Lemnah plays in a band in Tennessee called Réformist. Members play folk, acoustic, bluegrass, funk, jazz and rockabilly.

  Other band members are involved in additional musical and dramatic endeavors as well — too numerous to list here.

  Of note, however: Jeff and Natalie Kepple, of the Kepple Family Band, will be headlining Quincy’s Words & Music on Jan. 10 at Patti’s Thunder.

  Chris Retallack and Natalie Kepple currently play in the High Sierra Community and Youth Orchestra, and the band boasts former orchestra members as well.

  Prizes were won by audience members who could guess the song title and artist after a few opening notes were played. Quincy Thrift donated gift certificates for prizes and Toboggan Squad CDs were also awarded to lucky winners.

  Keep an eye out for a more refined version of the nearly two-hour concert video on YouTube. To hear samples from Toboggan Squad’s CD, visit Updates and more information will be available via Plumas Arts: call 283-3402.

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