The final Great Bend City Band concert of the 2017 season will open at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in Jack Kilby Square. For anyone who hasn’t taken the time yet to attend one of these performances, you don’t know what you are missing.
Spectators of all ages tap their feet and get into the music. Indeed, it is infectious.
This ensemble is a touch of class and nostalgia.
The strains of the city band date back to 1875 when a band was formed for a county-wide Independence Day celebration.
The town band was the main source of entertainment and culture in the young community, and provided advertisement for the merchants of the town. The brass band was called upon to “discourse sweet music” for such events as political rallies, fairs, ballroom dances and holiday festivities.
At that time, the band traveled quite a bit as a promotional tool, including a 1929 showing by some members at the Kansas League of Municipal Bands convention in Concordia. But, as costs soared and individual band members’ schedules became more hectic, the practice ceased. However, in 2008, it took part in the Kansas Bandmasters Convention in Wichita.
In the early days, merchants and business people paid for the group. In the 1920s, a state law was passed allowing cities to offer tax support. At that time, the community band became the municipal band. The group receives city support to this day.
Today, the band performs concerts outside at the Clayton Moses Memorial Band Shell in Jack Kilby Square. They put on eight or nine summer evening shows between June and July each year.
The tradition of starting at 8:15 dates back to a time when band participants worked in downtown shops that stayed open until 8 p.m. That gave them time to get to the square and get ready to perform.
The group receives some city funding, but it also relies on the donations from patrons to buy their scores and keep the air conditioning running during its indoor concerts.
Sure, they would like us to show them the money, but these first-rate volunteer performers do this for the love of the music. More than anything, they just want their fellow local residents to come and love the music with them.