Coulters recognized for service to community
Interviewing Mammoth Jazz founders Flossie and Ken Coulter is like being the ball in a tennis match. They’re generally so busy finishing each other’s sentences that pretty soon, you can’t remember what question you asked. Every story begets another. It’s a stream-of-conscious experience.
Sheet: Do you always finish each other’s sentences?
Ken: I don’t, but she does.
So I suppose I’ll start with the why part of the interview. Mammoth Lakes Rotary recently honored the Coulters with its inaugural Service Above Self award, which will be presented at the Rotary’s annual Winterfest fundraiser on February 9 at Canyon Lodge.
The legendary Yves Evans, a close friend of the Coulters who has sung with Ken’s band Temple of Folly, will provide the entertainment.
The timing for this honor couldn’t be better. The Coulters will celebrate the Silver Anniversary of Mammoth Lakes Jazz next summer before they officially step down as Event Directors and hand over the reins to an as-yet unidentified successor.
Sheet: Do you have someone in mind?
Flossie: Yes. This person is a current volunteer, but we’ll need Board approval … We’ll continue to be involved as consultants to hire the bands, but will step back from day-to-day operations.
As always, the Coulters have a few tricks up their sleeves for the 2013 event, including the formation of an all-star band called the O.F. Jazz Band. The band will consist of musicians and bandleaders who have not played Mammoth in recent years. They include: Bob Draga (Draga Vax Connection), Jim Fitzgerald (Kinda Dixie), Chet Jaeger (Night Blooming Jazzmen), Bob Williams (Wooden Nickel), Mike Vax (Great American Jazz Band), Igor (Igor’s Jazz Cowboys), John Hall (Chicago 6), Bonnie Otto (Wooden Nickel) and Pieter Meijers (High Sierra Jazz Band). Special concerts (mash-ups) are promised throughout the weekend. Pricing will remain the same as 2012.
Sheet: How did Mammoth Jazz do last year [financially]?
Ken: Well, we’re still here and there are 11 that aren’t, including Los Angeles and Orange County.
Flossie: Our event is different because most others take place within a single hotel complex. We have by far the youngest audience for this type of festival.
As far as second acts, consider this: Ken Coulter worked for 28 years as a school administrator BEFORE he even moved to Mammoth in 1980.
Flossie Coulter taught Junior High School Mathematics from 1964-1980.
As longtime Jazz volunteer and Jazz Program Publisher Robin Thompson tells it, more than once, he’s seen the gregarious Coulters strike up a conversation with an adjacent table at a restaurant, and there’ll be this moment where the other patrons realize – you were one of my teachers (in Palos Verdes).
The two actually met when Ken interviewed Flossie for a job in 1966.
How they learned of their recognition was fairly classic. Rotarians Dan Watson and Rick Pehlps asked Ken and Flossie, out for breakfast, and Watson began outlining the Service Above Self award and how it had been implemented when he was down in Pasadena.
Both Ken and Flossie figured they had been asked out to breakfast so that Phelps and Watson could pick their brains about fundraising, event planning, etc. “We thought we were being recruited to hire the entertainment,” said Flossie.
“When they told us they wanted to give us the inaugural award, it just about knocked us over,” she said.
Thanks to both Ken and Flossie for their years of service, not only with Jazz, but with a variety of local organizations, including but hardly limited to Mammoth Lakes Lions and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).