Music lovers can get a double serving this week. Great Bend’s City Band returns to the Clayton L. Moses Memorial Bandshell Thursday evening for another free concert in the summer series. Then on Friday, a 16-piece group of seasoned musicians will perform big band music.
Both shows start at 8:15 p.m. in the courthouse square, weather permitting. If the weather is bad, the shows move inside to the Crest Theater, just a few steps from the park.
City Band Director Steven Lueth said Thursday's show will celebrate some musical “golden anniversaries.” There will be a tribute to the Beatles, who came to the United States 50 years ago. It’s also the 50th anniversary of Stevie Wonder’s first album and 50 years since The Monkees appeared on television.
There will also be two naval pieces and some marches.
Friday’s show will feature 12 songs from the big band era.
After that, the City Band’s final outdoor concert is scheduled for Thursday, June 30. The concerts will move indoors to the Crest Theater in July. Those program dates are July 7 for an evening of patriotic music, and a final show on Tuesday, July 12.
The Great Bend City Band is one of a handful of city bands that can be found in Kansas cities, Lueth said. “It’s really a unique community group.”
The band usually rehearses on Tuesday and performs on Thursday. The size of the band varies from 50-65 musicians, depending on who is available to play. High school students play alongside “seasoned veterans,” as Lueth calls them.
The seasoned veterans with the most seniority include Eldon Hamm, a 1951 graduate of Great Bend High School who directed the City Band in 1970 and now plays tenor saxophone; Maurice Hammeke, who played in band as a high school student in the mid 1940s, on clarinet; and Joe Boley, who has been involved with the band in one way or another for 50 years, including past director. Boley plays trombone.
“We appreciate the support of the community and the City of Great Bend,” Lueth said. Crest Theater managers Angela and Wes Meitner open the building for the band twice a week.
The local Order of the Eastern Star chapter provides free bottles of water at the concerts. Although it does accept donations, Lueth announced Tuesday evening that the OES was also making a financial donation to the band.
The band accepts donations for its music fund and for a fund to help buy a new air conditioner for the theater. “I think the one they have is as old as the building,” Lueth said.
This story was updated on June 24 to correct the year of Eldon Hamm's graduation.