Brief Biographies of Our Members
Hope Benn (clarinet, alto sax), a native of Westerly, is the "utility infielder" of the band team. Hope also plays alto sax with the Westerly Band, trombone with the Norwich Arts Council Band, and baritone horn in the Christmas Tuba Concert. Playing in the Westerly High School Band led her to a life-long love of music.
Frank De Luise (clarinet, alto sax) was raised in Warwick, R. I. and started playing the clarinet when he was 10 years old. Played in the Warwick High Band and U. R. I. College Band where he later became a professor of engineering. He played for 25 years in the R. I. Philharmonic Orchestra. He has lived in Wakefield, R. I. for 53 years where he teaches clarinet and sax. He plays in the Wakefield Band, High Society Dixieland Band, and ROMPS (Retired Old Men Playing Swing).
Dave ("Bix") Francis (cornet /co-leader) has been playing since he was eight, but didn't pay attention to his trumpet teacher, so he's mostly self-taught. He's the musical black sheep of a family that includes four conservatory-trained musicians. Dave's great-grandfather was an itinerant musician from Salzgitter, Germany, who got off the boat in 1881 and joined the band of the 2nd Regiment of US Artillery. Dave only plays music
that makes him smile and prefers jazz that's older than he is. He also plays with the Wakefield Civic Band and the Coastline Swing Band.
Harvey Fugere (trombone) is a graduate of the U. S. Navy School of Music and an alumnus of several Navy Bands, Harvey joined the Westerly Band in 1987. He is retired from the Rode Island State Police and is lead trombone and conductor of ROMPS in Wakefield.
Bruno Giulini (drums) - Started drum lessons at 13 after 3 years of alto saxophone lessons. Bruno attended Hartt College of Music, and played with the Al Jarvis Orchestras from 1967 to 1973. His law enforcement career interfered until he joined the Westerly Band in 1999 and resumed drumming after a 26 year hiatus. He really enjoys playing dixieland and setting people's feet a tapping.
Larry Grebstein (trumpet) is a professional clinical psychologist and a “comeback” musician. Prior to his retirement in 2006, he was Professor of Psychology at the University of Rhode Island, where he taught for 42 years, and was in private practice. Larry grew up in Providence, RI and began playing the trumpet at age 8. Like many others of his generation, he grew up idolizing Harry James and Louis Armstrong and his mother invited a teacher to the house to give him lessons. After four years of little progress, he changed teachers and embouchures and started over. This happened for a third time as a teenager when he switched to the late Julio Tancredi who became his life long teacher and friend. Larry played in the junior high school and high school bands and joined the union in high school. He played in the marching band and concert band while attending Brown University and in small combo jobs on weekends. Larry stopped playing after starting graduate school at the University of Kentucky. After a layoff of more than 20 years, he contacted his old teacher Julio and started up lessons again. He continued studying with Julio until his death in 2006 at age 89. While at URI, Larry played in the Wind Ensemble, Traditional Jazz Band, and Big Jazz Band. In addition to High Society, Larry is a member of the Wakefield Concert Band.
Nate Lauder (tuba) Grew up in Denver, Colorado. He started to play the trumpet in 5th grade and continued playing it through high school. Then he quit and became a hippy. He graduated from the University of Colorado, moved to R. I. and took a job with Cherenzia Associates in Westerly. After not being involved in music for 35 years, he attended several tuba concerts and thought it would be more fun to play a tuba then listen to someone else play it, so he joined the Westerly Band training program and became an accomplished tuba player. He now plays in the Westerly Band, Wakefield Band, and in High Society Dixieland Band.
Charley Masse (keyboard) Born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., he started to play the drums at age 10 and, during high school,attended the Eastman School of Music. He played in the U. S. Military Academy Band at West Point, N. Y. for 4 years. At 23. he attended Ithaca College and received a degree in music. He retired in 1996 and moved to Westerly where he plays in ROMPS, Westerly Band (where he is assistant conductor) and plays the keyboard for High Society.
Mark Moffet (soprano/tenor sax) is a semi-retired physicist, residing with his wife, Marilyn, in North Kingstown. He was a faculty member of the Ocean Engineering Department at U.R.I., but since then he has been employed at N.U.W.C. in New London and Newport. He played alto sax in the Westerly Band during the late 1970s.He is currently a member of the Wakefield Civic Band, the Lafayette Band, the Rhode Island Wind Ensemble, and the Annaquatucket Saxophone Quartet.
Bill O'Neel (banjo) Bill was born and raised in Indiana where he began piano lessons at age 5. After brief and forgettable attempts at violin and snare drum, he succumbed to the country music sound and taught himself to play the mandolin in high school. He graduated from Purdue University where he played piano at fraternity parties and other illegal gatherings.; While attending graduate school he traded a mandolin for a tenor banjo, which served for personal therapeutic purposes throughout his mid-life crises. In 1994 he joined the Stone Street Strummers in Foxboro, MA and Mom's Apple Pie in Waterford, CT to embark upon banjo ensemble playing, and is active in several smaller groups in addition to High Society Dixieland Band. His musical preferences center around brass bands, ragtime piano, and traditional Dixieland jazz. He leads his own group, AlleyKatz, specializing in popular music from the Tin Pan Alley era of the twenties and early thirties. Bill is semi-retired and resides in Richmond, He may be heard in performance sporadically at Larry’s Lube Room, the after-hours entertainment division of Midnight Auto Supply located directly behind the Exeter dump..