The History Of The Chico Bavarian Band

Chico Bavarian Band

The Chico Bavarian Band at Oktoberfest by the Bay, San Francisco

(© 2013 The Chico Bavarian Band - all rights reserved.)

2013 was the 40th anniversary of the The Chico Bavarian Band ("Gee, they don't look that old!"), a traditional Bavarian brass band ("Blaskapelle"). The name comes from the school where the founding members met: California State University Chico. (No, there isn't anyone in the band named "Chico"...) The band started as 5 college guys playing for free beer (imagine that; college kids trying to find a way to get free beer!), and gradually turned into a serious (well, dedicated if not serious!) 20+ member group. The members hail from all over Northern California (past members now live as far away as Florida Japan!), and get together for performances whenever the opportunity arises.

The original band came together when, in the Fall of 1973, a nearby grammar school requested some musical accompaniment for their Halloween Parade. They called the Chico State Music Department and asked if a few musicians could come over and play some marching music for the kids. The director of Chico's Symphonic Wind Ensemble asked Robert (Bobby) Maggiora if he would pull a few musicians together, find some marching music in the department's music library, and head over to the grammar school. Bobby was happy to oblige, and ended up grabbing a book of German tunes as the music for the group -- after all, the Germans have written some pretty amazing marches! Bobby was a clarinet major at Chico State, but he's also quite the accordion player, so he grabbed his accordion and a few willing music majors (one trumpet, one clarinet, one tuba, and a drummer) and headed off to the grammar school.

This little combo of musicians had a lot of fun playing the German marches, and soon found that a lot of the other music in these books -- polkas, waltzes and schottiches -- were pretty good as well. So they naturally decided that they should share this new-found musical experience with as many people as possible! And where does one go to entertain the masses? Why, the nearest bar, of course! The group walked into their favorite watering hole and started playing, unannounced. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how the Chico Bavarian Band was born... the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, headquarters for the CBB is the San Francisco Bay Area (because that's where our band leader lives). The band plays at Oktoberfests, Faschings, and Trachtenfests in the Northern California area, primarily in the months of September and October. The band's past credits include the Chico Oktoberfest (of course!) , the Trachtenfest in Hayward, CA, the Alpine Oktoberfest at Alpine Meadows, CA, and the band's first European tour in 1987 -- which included a guest appearance at the Hof Brau Haus in Munich.

In 1997 the band made history: The Chico Bavarian Band was the first American band to be allowed to participate in the Sunday parade (September 21, 1997) in the Munich Oktoberfest! Thanks to the support and encouragement of Chrissa Imports, who was, at the time, the west coast importer for Spaten, the band was sponsored by Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau in Munich. Spaten arranged for us to march in the Sunday parade as a Spaten affiliated group, and we followed it up with a brief performance in the Spatenbrau-Festhalle (Ochsenbraterei) tent in the Oktoberfest grounds. It was an experience no one in the band will ever forget.

From Munich, the CBB travelled on to concerts in Salzburg, Innsbruck and finally the Cannstatter Volksfest Parade in Stuttgart. Think of the Cannstatter festival as the Munich Oktoberfest's little brother... all the fun, great music and terrific beer in a venue about 1/3 the size. Our hosts and sponsor there was the Dinkelacker brewery, a local favorite in Stuttgart. Once again the CBB was welcomed as a featured band in the festival's opening parade.

In 1998 and 1999, our band provided the music for the Ganter Cup Challenge, an invitational golf tournament held between top Nike Tour (now the Nationwide Tour) and PGA Tour players. The event was held on Labor Day; in 1998 at the San Juan Oaks Country Club in Northern California, and in 1999 at at the Willow Creek Country Club in Salt Lake City immediately following the Utah Classic.

The Chico Bavarian Band was also able to make a guest appearance at the Snowbird Oktoberfest in 1999. The people at the Snowbird Ski Resort (just outside of Salt Lake City) do a wonderful job of hosting a traditional Oktoberfest that runs every weekend through the month of September.

Since then, the band has played annually at San Francisco's Oktoberfest By The Bay. This event -- which spans three days each year -- draws thousands of people, and is the closest thing in California to visiting one of the tents at the Munich Oktoberfest.

And in 2007, the band made a repeat visit to both the Munich Oktoberfest and the Cannstatter Volksfest Parade in Stuttgart. This was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the band's first appearance in the Munich Oktoberfest parade, and was just as much fun as the original appearance in 1997.

Our band is always looking for chances to play. If you need a great band for your festival, dance or community event, send an email to or give us a call -- the contact number is on our Contact Page!

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