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Bob Olsen

Bob Olsen, far right, performs with other musicians during a past show at Fremont Opera House. 

Flood waters doused Bob Olsen’s plans for a birthday bash in March.

Olsen was admittedly disappointed.

But the waters didn’t sink his aspirations for an event during which he’d celebrate his 90th birthday.

So on June 15, the longtime musician and teacher will host a rescheduled birthday celebration starting at 7 p.m.

The belated birthday bash will take place at Fremont Opera house, 541 N. Broad St.

Tickets for the March event will be honored. The tickets, which cost $15 each, are still available online at http://fremontoperahouse.org or at Sampter’s, 517 N. Main St., or by calling 402-720-2332.

Approximately 15 musicians from across the country will perform during the hour-long concert.

“We’ll feature some fine, fine musicians,” Olsen said.

The musicians include Norman Sodomka, a top trumpet player from Grand Island and one of Olsen’s former students.

Jazz singer Jerrine Racek, originally from the Morse Bluff area, will perform.

“Jerrine is a top jazz vocalist,” Olsen said. “She’s sung in jazz festivals, both in our country and overseas.”

Olsen’s niece, Judy Redlawk, a flute player from Pennsylvania, plans to perform as well.

Together, the musicians play jazz favorites by legendary musicians Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.

They’ll include some Irish songs such as the traditional “Danny Boy.”

“I think there’s enough variety in the program so there will be something for everybody to enjoy,” Olsen said.

Originally, Olsen planned the musical celebration on his birthday, which is March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day.

Mid-March flooding, which started around March 14, closed roads around Fremont, and the event was postponed.

“It was a big disappointment, but I’m sure this will make up for it,” Olsen said.

Olsen has been an instrumental part of Fremont’s musical heritage for decades.

His father, Walter, taught instrumental music in the Fremont Public Schools system for 38 years.

Bob performed with various bands, playing for radio shows in New York City and Chicago. Then — after his dad retired — Bob taught instrumental music at FPS for 35 years.

For the last four years, Olsen has taught instrumental music to youth at the Masonic Home-Eastern Star Home for Children in Fremont.

Olsen hopes some students from the Masonic Home will be able to attend his birthday bash.

In the meantime, Olsen said all 25 students in the Masonic Home band will travel to Kearney today to perform at the Eastern Star’s state convention.

Olsen hopes area residents will attend the event in June.

“It should be a really, really fun night for everybody,” Olsen said.

Lee Meyer, an opera house board member, also noted that Olsen had a party in 2018 at the opera house.

“The music was really fantastic,” she said. “I think it will be even better this year. It will be something to hear and see.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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