Community Bands Strike Up Again

Independent Silver Band

This year the Vintage Band Festival will observe the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, a tumultuous time in American history, but also a time when musical activity grew quickly and hugely among the citizens. Many new bands formed during those years to meet the ceremonial and entertainment needs of the troops, both Union and Confederate. As the war ended and the military musicians returned home, they brought with them an appetite for band music that spawned an explosion in town bands all over the country.

Many among us grew up attending band concerts in the village square, often at a bandstand. This was the main entertainment of the week in many communities, and these concerts helped to develop generations of music listeners and prompted the inclusion of band music in the public schools. Still today, in communities like Northfield, New Prague, Cannon Falls, and Faribault, weekly band concerts can be heard on a summer evening.

The Vintage Band Festival celebrates this important music-making by inviting several community bands from Minnesota to share their music on Aug. 1-4. The Carlisle Town Band (http://carlisleband.org/) will perform at VBF.  This band is the oldest continuously operating community ensemble in Minnesota; it formed in 1844, a time just after the invention of brass valves. The Carlisle Band also keeps the tradition of having several members from the same families, with ancestors going back to the foundation of the group. The Carlisle Town Band first appeared at the Vintage Band Festival in 2010.

The New Prague Area Community Band represents a city with a rich musical history going back to the 1800s, when many Czech and Bohemian bandsmen were active in both the concert hall and the dance hall. Its members represent such nearby villages as New Prague, Lonsdale, Belle Plaine, Jordan, Elko New Market, Farmington, Lakeville, and Montgomery.  The New Prague group will perform various concerts throughout the festival.

The VBF also welcomes an out-of-state ensemble that will reenact the village band experience of the 1800s. The Independent Silver Band of Mt Vernon, Illinois  (http://independentsilverband.webs.com/), according to their Web site, started in 1884 as “entertainment for this prosperous and energetic Illinois community.” “The Independent Silver Band was first composed of 10 local men who attended the same church and Sunday school. The group provided its city and region with first-class entertainment and boundless enjoyment. They played for balls, funerals, picnics, skating parties, political rallies, or whenever the community gathered.” Today the Independent Silver Band wears resplendent uniforms in the style of the 1880s and plays the music of the times. The Independent Silver Band first appeared at the Vintage Band Festival in 2010.

The Community band events will be intermixed with many other musical events at the VBF, including British style brass bands, Civil War bands, Baroque ensembles, New Orleans Jazz, Klezmer, Balkan, Mariachi, and wandering groups of musicians playing alphorns, ophecleides, helicons, sackbuts, and clarions, each presentation with a costume or uniform fitting the music. 

The Vintage Band Festival is a four-day celebration featuring bands from across the US and abroad. Over 100 concerts fill the streets of historic Northfield and satellite concerts sites throughout southern Minnesota on August 1-4. The Festival offers a variety of genres, ethnic influences, and period-style performances. Visit http://vintagebandfestival.org/for more information. Find the VBF on Facebook at “Vintage Band Festival” and Twitter at @vintagebandfest.

 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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