The Great Bend City Band wrapped up its summer series Tuesday by sharing the stage with the Kansas Army National Guard 35th Infantry Division Band. The free patriotic concert in the Barton County Courthouse Square drew a large crowd.
The City Band, directed by Barton Community College Director of Instrumental Music Steven Lueth, performed first and then the 35th Infantry Division Band, under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jim Walker, took the stage. The combined bands, approximately 75 musicians strong, ended the concert with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
During the program, Lueth noted the number of local musicians who have been part of the City Band for years, and in some cases decades. Joe Boley was the band member with the longest tenure; he said this is his 47th year.
“This is so much fun; you have no idea,” Leuth said, looking over the crowd. He talked about the importance of sharing this type of music with future generations. “We need, as grandparents and parents, to teach our children our American heritage.”
Walker commended Leuth and the City Band as his group took the stage, saying, “That was a fantastic opener. It’s an honor sharing the stage with you.”
The audience was asked to participate when the 35th Infantry Division Band played a medley of songs honoring each branch of the Armed Forces. They were invited to stand for the branch of which they were a veteran, in the service or related to someone in the military. Walker and a few other band members left the stage to shake the hands of those standing.
The band members, all citizen soldiers, rehearse one weekend a month and the band conducts a two-week tour every summer.