Community, Cottage Grove, Creswell

Cascade Kids building unique family tradition

CRESWELL – They’re moving on up! 

The Cascade Kids are an amazing, one-family band, ranging in age from 10 to 16. 

With five siblings currently in the band, they’re getting better so fast it’s almost scary. There are a total of 11 children in the family, including a newborn, John, who was just welcomed into the world during the summer.  

Let’s say John and his fellow siblings keep the family tradition going – and continue to represent the ACE School in Cottage Grove – well, that means the Cascade Kids could still be going strong 17 years from now. 

“Few things in life give me more happiness than listening to my kids play music,” Joseph Lewis said Saturday night after the band played as part of Grrrlz Rock 2023. One night earlier, they played the national anthem at Matthew Knight Arena before a Ducks game.  

Their holiday schedule includes the Festival of Lights at the Graduate Hotel in Eugene on Nov. 22 (1-2 p.m.) and Nov. 24 (10-11 a.m.), and the Creswell Winter Lights event at the Creswell Community Center on Dec. 9 (6 p.m.). They’re also playing at five assisted-living facilities over the holidays. 

“It’s very fulfilling to play for elderly people or people who might not be in the prime of their life to cheer them up and kind of bring some happiness to their lives,” said the oldest member of the band, Joseph, 16. 

While they’ve all been playing music for a number of years, they just started playing as a quintet last year. Every morning at 5:30, their day begins with band practice.

While they’ve all been playing music for a number of years, they just started playing as a quintet last year. Every morning at 5:30, their day begins with band practice.

“It makes me happy every morning when we practice. I’m grinning from ear to ear,” said Elizabeth, 15, the most versatile musician in the family, as she plays guitar, cello, piano and violin. “There’s not much in my life that makes me as happy as practicing and performing music.” 

She writes scripts for her own drama productions, such as “My Fair Lady,” “Nutcracker,” and “Oliver,” and writes lines for family members to act out. Elizabeth also started a religious freedom club at school, which addresses how the Constitution affects our religious freedoms, among other topical issues. She also plays soccer for Creswell. 

Music is a huge part of the kids’ lives, but it’s not an obsession – far from it.

The three boys in the band are all in Creswell Boy Scouts. Joseph is the No. 1 player on Creswell’s tennis team and also plays on the varsity soccer team. He works at the Creswell Dairy Queen and carries a perfect 4.0 GPA, as does Elizabeth.

Hans, 13, enjoys tennis, but he “likes the bizarre stuff,” his father said. “He’s good at juggling, solving Rubik’s Cube. He got on the top-10 list for the 3,000 meters in track in his first year, so watching him succeed and his self-confidence blossom was nice to see.”

Charlie, 12, started playing piano at age 6. He also loves math. After school he’ll come home with a graphing calculator, “which he loves playing on like it’s a toy,” said his mother, Leslie. “We have to yell at him because he’ll be reading math theory books instead of doing his homework.”

Charlie Lewis, age 12, plays piano for the Cascade Kids

Hans and Charlie both ran cross country this year for Creswell Middle School. 

“I always wanted them to play sports,” the elder Joseph said. “I was a huge volleyball fan at Thurston.  I played on the freshman baseball team. I was too small to play football, but I always liked watching sports. I dinked around on the piano, mom was a piano teacher but I was not her star student but I learned enough on the guitar to convince my wife to marry me.”

Whenever the group practices, they’re always happy whenever Mom – a professional violinist – is able to sit in. Leslie played in the BYU symphony during college, and she currently plays in the Springfield community symphony, as well as other small community orchestras.  

Charlie also plays organ in the family’s church. “He’s a very humble kid, very cheerful, he’s the most happy-go-lucky of all our kids. When the high school lost its piano player for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ he took over as a fifth-grader,” Leslie said.   

“Charlie is the most talented musician in the family,” Joseph said. “His teacher says he’s the most talented kid he’s seen for his age.” 

Annalisa, 10, the youngest member of the band, is very bright and recently won an audition with the Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestra (ESYO) Little Symphony. She plays viola and also plays piano. 

All of the kids in the band have taken lessons, either from Bill Green or Sophie Therrell, who studied at Brown University and now plays with the Eugene Symphony. 

In 2022, the family found out they were expecting a Down syndrome child. 

“During Christmas of 2022, we decided to put together a Christmas concert for about a dozen assisted-living facilities. It was a way for the kids to have exposure to the elderly and to give back to the elderly, and so many of them spoke so highly of their Down syndrome friends and family members.” 

“After that first concert, one of the assisted-living centers wanted to pay us money. I said, ‘I don’t know, 50 bucks?’ Then somebody said we should charge at least $100. The kids have a 1989 Dodge Caravan – it’s 34 years old – but it gets them to all of their performances. Their equipment has to fit like a jigsaw puzzle.” 

That special-needs child, Ammon, is 2 years old now. He was the youngest child before baby John was just born. Ammon enjoys the banging of the drums whenever he hears music. 

“I’m optimistic he can add drums or percussion of some kind to the band when he’s old enough,” his dad said.

“Sometimes the only way to make him stop crying when he was younger was to play a couple of notes on the piano,” Elizabeth said. 

The next Cascade Kid-In-Waiting is 8-year-old Ruth, who plays cello. After her is Lydia, 7. She plays violin. That leaves 5-year-old Bronson and 3-year-old Clara, who might be the best dancer of the whole bunch. 

As much as she adores watching the Cascade Kids earn their musical stripes, Leslie also looks forward to the day when music will keep the entire family right in step with one another.

“Music has been a big part of Joseph’s family for generations,” Leslie said. “And we want to continue that tradition. I hope it will be a bonding experience, when they all get back together again as adults, and experience the joy of playing music together.”  



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