Dr. Dale Blackwell
Conductor, Performer, Educator, and Composer
Dr. Dale Blackwell completed a distinguished career in 1999 as Professor of Instrumental Music and Director of Bands at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, a position he held since August 1971. He previously served as Brass Instructor at Valdosta State College and held the position of Band Director at Kecoughtan High School and H. Wilson Thorpe Junior High School, both in Hampton, Virginia and Carteret County Schools in Beaufort, North Carolina, his hometown.
Originally he majored in Civil Engineering at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, but after two years he enlisted in the Army serving four years where he performed in the CONARC Band at Fort Monroe, Virginia along with his father, who was his commanding officer. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education Degree and Master of Composition Degree at East Carolina University. After teaching several years he decided to return to school and enrolled at Florida State University where he earned his PhD in Music Education.
A professional trumpet player from the age of 16, Dale has performed with the big bands of Ray McKinley, Buddy Morrow, Warren Covington, the show bands of Henry Mancini, Della Reese, Pat Boone, Red Skelton, Carol Channing, the Mills Brothers, Holiday on Ice, Ringling Brothers Circus, The O’Jays, Frankie Laine, Patti Page, Lou Rawls, Steve Lawrence, and many others, and Broadway musicals whose headliners include Robert Goulet, Robert Morse, Mitzi Gaynor, and others.
In December of 2015 Richard Dickson asked Dr. Blackwell if he was interested in conducting the Conservatory Concert Band and he was extremely complimented and agreed to do it. The conservatory is now history, but the band stayed together under a new name, River City Concert Band. He has enjoyed conducting the talented musicians and admires their love of music and camaraderie, as only band people can appreciate.
During the summer of 2010 Dr. Blackwell, who founded the First Coast Wind Symphony and then co-conducted it for 20 years, retired. Evelyn, his wife, followed five years later in 2015 after 25 years of dedication to the wind symphony. He is an avid book reader and enjoys spending time with four children, eight grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and big family get togethers.
Dr. Blackwell has made un-measurable contributions to the Jacksonville community through playing, composing, arranging, conducting, and educating. He has positively influenced and touched the lives of students and colleagues for many years. He is particularly proud of his two music students who have served as Drum Major’s in “The President’s Own” Band. To honor Dr. Blackwell’s leadership, dedication, and devotion, in October of 2009 the First Coast Wind Symphony presented him with the First Coast Wind Symphony’s Endowed Chair for ‘Principal Trumpet’.
Conductor, Performer, Educator
Gordon Woodrow is the Associate Conductor of the River City Concert Band. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music Education Degrees from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. While working toward his Masters at Drake he served as a graduate conductor under the guidance of director Don Marcouiller.
Following graduation, Gordon became the band director at Glenwood Community High School in Glenwood, Iowa where he directed marching band, concert band, pep band and stage band. After 18 years he retired from teaching and became a computer programmer. He maintained a close relationship with the Glenwood School District, substitute teaching, managing the high school auditorium as well and announcing football games and track meets for over 40 years.
Shortly after retiring from teaching, Gordon and another retired director formed the Glenwood Community Band, both serving as co-directors of the group. In May of 2021 Gordon and his wife, Lori, decided to move to Jacksonville to be closer to their daughter and granddaughter and now have become grandparents to a second granddaughter. With a desire to continue his enjoyment of music, Gordon joined the trumpet section of the River City Concert Band and is now assuming some of the conducting duties of the group.
Performer, Conductor, Educator
Don Isabelle is our River City Jazz Band conductor. He earned a BA Music Degree from the University of North Florida and an AA Degree from CFCC and has been teaching band for 32 years in St Johns County, FL. His bands have earned Superior ratings at FBA MPA and his Jazz Ensembles have performed at the NYC Jazz Festivals in 2014 and 2017.
He is a certified Solo/Ensemble and Jazz Adjudicator and has been in demand as a clinician in NE Florida. His professional affiliations include FBA, FOA, FMEA, FSMA, and NAfME.
When he is not teaching Don is the Principal Euphoniumist in the River City Concert Band, St Augustine Concert Band, leader of the River City Jazz Band and, with over 40 years of experience, continues to perform professionally as a pianist. Don has performed with many legends such as Tennessee Ernie Ford.
In his private life he is married to Kathe Isabelle for 38 years, who is also the music director of his feeder program. He has a daughter and a son that he is extremely proud of and both are accomplished musicians.