After the West Bend Independence Day parade, John Searle, a member of local choir and theater groups, questioned why there wasn’t an adult West Bend band. That December, he met with David Schleif, orchestra director for the West Bend School District, and four other area musicians and the band was formally organized.

John Searle


The first rehearsal was held in the spring, followed by the first concert at Old Settler’s Park on June 28. The band’s first parade appearance was July 4 of that year. Later that year, the “Brass Ensemble” formed, performing Christmas and holiday music. In 1990, the ensemble was renamed “River City Christmas Brass”.

First Concert
First Parade
Brass Ensemble


The “RCI German Band” ensemble formed, performing authentic German blasmusik. In later years, the ensemble was renamed “River City Blaskapelle” (Blaskapelle meaning “brass band”).

RCI German Band

Band Name

The name “River City Irregulars” was a name that John Searle developed and introduced. His reasoning behind choosing this name was two fold.

Seeing that West Bend was attractive to settlers because of its location on the Milwaukee River, the band would attract musicians from all different walks of life. This is similar to how the Irregular Army was formed during the Revolutionary War, using bakers, candlestick makers, farmers, shop owners and others. In a similar way, the band would be composed of teachers, doctors, factory workers, engineers and others.

The similarities were present, thus the name “River City Irregulars” was born.



1984-2003David Schleif
2004-2004Keith Reynolds
2005-2014Dr. Daniel Ackley
2014-2015Mitchell Milligan
2016-2021Bill Berlyn
2022-PresentPamela Harrison

Assistant Directors

  • Bart Fojtik
  • Joe Pieper
  • Karen Wachholz