When they held their first family Christmas concert in 2013, members of the Voetberg Family Band did not know it would become a holiday tradition for many other local families.
Elisha Voetberg, 29, who plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar in the band, said he feels a sense of reciprocity in the annual event, as the members of the family band enjoy being able to present their music to an audience and they feel the event brings joy to audience members as well.
“It’s a tradition we hope to continue as long as the sentiment is there,” he said.
The seventh installment of the Voetberg Family Christmas concert will be offered four times this Thursday through Sunday at the Historic Liberty Theatre in downtown Centralia. The Voetberg Family Band comprises eight of the 10 Voetberg siblings. Reared in Centralia, the siblings were raised in a home where music was fostered.
“Individually, we all enjoy music a lot,” said Vance Voetberg, 20, who plays violin in the band. “It gives you a lot of opportunity to meet new people and stretch yourself and it brings us together as a family. Christmas can be really busy sometimes but we all connect for the show.”
Elisha explained the first idea for a family band came to them about 20 years ago when they met another family band whose members were about 20 years their senior. He recalled that not only was the other family band still playing together but they seemed to genuinely enjoy being together. He said that was a turning point for their own family.
“I think that was the first time we realized we could all grow up and still be playing together. It was the first time it had crossed our minds,” Elisha said.
Though some have moved away for a time, all 10 of the Voetberg siblings now live in their hometown of Centralia. Though the entire Voetberg Family Band may only gather a few times a year to play together, they said smaller groups of the siblings meet often and enjoy playing together. They credit their home life growing up for the fact that they all still enjoy making music together.
“Our parents had the perspective that they wanted us to be people of high character first and things like music and academics came after,” Elisha said. “We just value our relationships way more than we value our music.”
And now the next generation of the Voetberg family is getting into the act. There will be a special segment of the Christmas program that will include appearances by all 10 Voetberg siblings as well as all 18 of the Voetberg grandchildren, who range in age from 4 months to 10. Vance, who teaches private fiddle lessons to 15 students, including some of the Voetberg grandchildren.
“I enjoy passing on a gift that was given to me, especially to the grandkids,” he said.
The Christmas show will feature music that highlights the family band’s folk, Americana style of music featuring the sounds of fiddle, piano, guitar, bass, cello, organ and mandolin. They said they draw influences from many traditions where fiddles are featured, including Irish, Scottish and Western Swing.
“Specifically, with the Christmas show, it’s that retro sound that we’re trying to go for,” Vance said.
Historically, the Voetberg Family Band Christmas concerts have been held at the Historic Fox Theatre. This year, the event was moved to the Historic Liberty Theatre due to the construction at the Fox. But the event continues to be connected to the Fox Theatre as proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Historic Fox Theatre Restorations as well as Health & Hope medical outreach.