Plantation Village couple makes beautiful music together

BRADENTON — Just call them the Ides of Music.

Keith and Jacque Ide are members of the Plantation Village Fun Band, a 20-plus-member collection of the mobile-home park’s residents who frequently play at area nursing homes and senior centers during the winter months.

The group always opens performances with “God Bless America” and closes each show with “Any Time.” In between, it performs such standards as “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “When You and I Were Young, Maggie” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

“Once, one lady told me that when she came in (to watch a performance) she was full of aches and pains, and after we stopped playing, they were all gone,” said Jacque, who has played a variety of instruments during 16 years with the band. “That’s what makes it so much fun, so worthwhile.”

Keith joined the band as its director two years ago, after long serving as an unofficial “roadie” — carrying and setting up instruments and other equipment.

“Someone said, ‘Why don’t you join the band? You have to be here anyway,’ ” he said, laughing. “I thought I’d give it a try.”

The band is just among the many musical steps the couple, originally from Cadillac, Mich., has taken.

Jacque took piano lessons as a child and played in her high school and college bands. Keith performed in a barbershop chorus in Michigan.

But it wasn’t until the couple — he’s 75, she’s 74 — moved to Bradenton nearly two decades ago that Keith learned to read music and play keyboards.

“I always wanted to play the piano when I was younger, but we couldn’t afford to get one,” he said.

He began with a basic electronic keyboard and since has worked his way up to complex programmable organs.

He also spent 32 years planning and designing highways for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

After retiring, he took up repairing and refinishing wood furniture that Jacque bought for the antique business that she ran out of their Michigan home — a schoolhouse that was built in 1883.

“It was called the white pine school because we had 120 white pines all around us,” Jacque said.

Living in a schoolhouse seemed fitting for Jacque: She was an elementary schoolteacher before launching her antique shop, which doubled as their front living area.

Often when Keith returned home from his DOT job, he discovered Jacque had rearranged the furniture — which she had rolled across their home’s pine floor.

The couple has been married for 38 years after a workplace romance blossomed.

“We both had part-time jobs in a hotel bar and dining room,” Jacque said. “He was a bartender and I waited tables. That’s how we met.”

Added Keith: “I just tell people I picked her up in a bar.”

They moved to Plantation Village in 1990 after spending two previous winters there. But they were long knowledgeable about the area: Keith’s brother lived here, and Jacque’s grandmother frequently visited the Bradenton-Sarasota area.

“I always knew in the back of my mind that I would live in Florida someday,” Jacque said.

The couple has since remained active — especially from January through March, the busiest time of year for the band, which was formed about 30 years ago.

The band, whose members range from late 60s to 92 years of age, includes singers, an accordion player and a banjo player who just joined this year.

It usually performs at nursing homes and senior centers on Wednesdays before closing out the season with a concert in Plantation Village’s recreation hall.

“You feel good when you play in a nursing home because you make them feel good and happy,” Jacque said.

“Bring a little sunshine into their days,” Keith added.

While all the band members live or have lived in Plantation Village, it’s open to anyone who’s willing to put in the time and effort, he said.

“We aren’t doing it for money,” said Jacque, who also knits slippers that she donates to Meals on Wheels. “We do it because we enjoy doing it.”

For more information about the Plantation Village Fun Band, call the Ides at 755-7495.