Morning Optimists learn more about Lincoln Highway Band

The Morning Optimist Club of Marshalltown held its weekly meeting Aug. 19 at the Hy-Vee Dining Room. President John Hall opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and led an invocation.

Several sign-up sheets were passed for members to volunteer for upcoming events. Flags will be distributed on Labor Day, Sept. 1. A N.O.W., New Optimists Wanted, potluck picnic will be held on Sept. 7, at Kiwanis Park, for which volunteers will need to set up and clean up. Incoming President Sharon McKimpson requested that members sign up early for preferred months to obtain guest speakers during the 2014-15 Optimist year.

August Program Chair Chuck Bailey introduced Jonathan Hull as the guest speaker of the day. Hull, owner of Willard’s Furs & Fashions, is one of the members of the local Lincoln Highway Band. He talked about how the band got started and what keeps them going.

According to Hull, he became acquainted with Mike Bergman in 1998 and discovered that each had some skill in playing stringed instruments. They began jamming together, Hull on the guitar, and Bergman on the fiddle. They were joined by Terry Augspurger on the bass guitar, Mike Luttrell on the mandolin and Ken Lyons on the banjo. Luttrell has since left the group. The Lincoln Highway Band was born, featuring their own style of bluegrass music, patterned after the music of several bluegrass notables, such as Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs.

The name “Lincoln Highway Band” came about because all of the members lived and worked in close proximity to the Lincoln Highway, according to Hull. To date, he claimed, the group has had 197 performances, approximately 45 percent of them being for pay and 55 percent for gratis. They have performed for house parties, meetings, and many public gatherings. A highlight for them was to be the opening band for Ricky Skaggs at the 2002 performance at the Marshalltown High School Auditorium. They also performed in the Orpheum Theater production of the play “Foxfire.” Not being skilled in reading music, by Hull’s admission, they learn their songs by listening to music and to each other. Even when they are not preparing for a performance, the band gather every Tuesday evening for their jamming sessions.

Hall closed the meeting by leading the recitation of the Optimist Creed. The Morning Optimist Club of Marshalltown meets at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Hy-Vee Dining Room. Guests are welcome. The club’s website is at