David Millard was born in Memphis, Tennesse, later moving to Southern California and raised in San Pedro and Ontario. As Millard describes, “When I was 15 years old, I started getting into folk music, especially Bob Dylan, and wanted to learn to play. I enrolled for lessons at Claremont Memorial Park and ended up taking lessons from Dorothy Chase and hanging out at the Folk Music Center. I got a job there when I was 16 and from then on felt more like a Claremonter than an Ontarian. I moved to Claremont when I was 20 and continued working at the Folk Music Center until I was 27. Working at the FMC put me in touch with all the musicians in the area as well as every musical instrument imaginable.”
After “paying his dues” performing on stage for many years, David went on to become a teacher, teaching middle-school math and science in Ontario. Currently, Millard plays guitar and sings in Squeakin’ Wheels, with his sister Marguerite who founded the band in the late 1990s. Squeakin’ Wheels has become a Claremont fixture with a dedicated following who enjoy the band’s brother/sister harmony vocals, fine musicianship, and great songwriting. Squeakin’ Wheels’ current 5-piece “family” members includes Marguerite, her husband Mark Takeuchi, Steve Cahill, Roy Durnal, and David Brock. Squeakin’ Wheels have recorded two albums: Devil’s Racetrack and Things Have Changed.
On the development of Claremont’s music community, David states, “I think Claremont’s unique music scene developed in large part because of the good timing of Charles and Dorothy Chase opening a store like the Folk Music Center at the height of folk music’s popularity in the early 1960’s, and doing it in a college town like Claremont.”
Marguerite Millard was born in Van Nuys and raised in San Pedro and Ontario. As Marguerite recalls, “Growing up in Ontario, Claremont was a necessary place to go for youth raised by leftists. I followed my brother, David’s, lead and took guitar lessons from Dorothy Chase through the Parks and Recreation program. The Folk Music Center, and later the big oak tree in Memorial Park were big draws for a desperate Ontario teen. I met lifelong friends in Claremont and when I returned to the area after being away for twenty years, Claremont was the obvious place for me to be. My bro, my pals, and the music scene were all here. On top of it all, Claremont was a great place to raise my son.”
Marguerite’s parents and grandparents all played instruments and it was a given that her and her brother would take piano lessons as kids. They were exposed to a lot of music growing up but the turning point was catching the folk music bug in the 1960s and taking guitar lessons from Dorothy Chase. Dorothy not only taught them to play guitar, but also introduced them to a wide variety of folk songs and musicians.
While living in San Francisco in the 1970s and 80s, Marguerite’s musical life included a rich blend of country, folk, and swing. She could be found playing music in a variety of groups at folk clubs, Irish pubs, and on the streets near Fisherman’s Wharf. Returning to Claremont in the 1990s, Marguerite co-formed Squeakin’ Wheels, an Americana string and vocal band, with her musical partner, Randy Holland, her brother, David, and local musicians, David Brock and Jim Shirey. Currently, Squeakin’ Wheels are a six-piece band that includes Marguerite, the original two Davids, Steve Cahill, Roy Durnal, and Marguerite's husband, Mark Takeuchi.
Marguerite also plays with Ellen Harper and Jerry O'Sullivan in various Folk Music Center projects. After retiring from teaching, Marguerite started a tutoring business (readermadness.com) and works at the Folk Music Center.
Marguerite states, “Claremont seems to be expanding musically. More and more musicians come here and add their own mark to Claremont. It’s a very musical place.”