Joy Riggs will read and sign her new book, “Crackerjack Bands and Hometown Boosters: The Story of a Minnesota Music Man,” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Ferguson Books and More in the Grand Cities Mall.

In her book, the Northfield, Minn., author explores the life and achievements of her great-grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs, one of the most renowned community band leaders in the Upper Midwest.

At various times in the early 1900s, G. Oliver Riggs was employed by Grand Forks and other cities, including Crookston, Bemidji and St. Cloud, Minn.

He eventually developed a reputation as one of the most successful directors of youth bands in the United States, Joy Riggs said.

“But after his death in 1946, few people outside of St. Cloud remembered his name or his reputation for building highly disciplined ensembles that provided an extra spark to civic celebrations, while also instilling several generations of young performers with a love for music and a commitment to playing it well.”

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

The book follows the careers of Riggs, his wife, Islea, and their children, through times of war, peace, economic hardship and personal tragedy. In her research, the author interviewed former members of Riggs’ ensembles and scoured daily newspapers for information on his movements, contracts, performances and rivalries.

“In so doing, she opens a window onto an aspect of American culture that cannot be adequately conveyed by listening to one or two John Philip Sousa marches,” according to a news release from Nodin Press, the book’s publisher.

“Ultimately, this is a story about civic pride, community participation and the power of music to transform lives and connect people across generations.”