Archive for Wednesday, June 5, 2013

City band concerts mark beginning of summer

June 5, 2013

This is one of my favorite days of the year, next to the starting of high school football season and Christmas. Never mind what the calendar says – summer officially begins at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6, when the Bonner Springs City Band presents its first concert of the season. The band will normally play every Thursday night in June and July with the exception of the Fourth of July. The concert will be the previous Saturday during the annual Bonner Blast.

There is one other change – the Tiblow Days concert will be on Thursday and the Mayor’s Banquet will be moved to Friday.

The band is sponsored by the city and administered by the Band Commission. Bill Turley and Aaron Hall are the directors and membership is open to anyone. It is interesting to note that band members come from many surrounding cities. We have a large number of players from Basehor, Piper, KCK and Johnson County.

Certainly Bonner Springs can be proud of its city band. The Thursday night concerts are real Americana with ice cream socials and a couple of hundred people in attendance. It is truly a tribute to small town life.

City bands have been around for a long time. Bonner Springs’ band dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Cities took pride is two institutions – its baseball team and its band. Of course it wasn’t all that easy to hear music in those days. Before recorded music became popular, there were only three choices to find much entertainment. You could go to church or to the saloon or, if you were lucky, your local city band concert.

City bands flourished throughout Kansas in the 19th century – I read that the Lawrence band dates back to 1857. Thanks to the leadership of the late Larry Berg, the Bonner Springs band is one of the strongest in the area. The tradition of excellence has been continued by Turley, Hall and the volunteer leadership of the Band Commission, Don Wheeler is the chairperson. For many of us it is a labor of love and the highlight of the summer.

In my case, Larry asked me to announce a concert in 1982 and except for 2010 when I was sick, I’ve been at the microphone ever since. We were fortunate as a band to have Jeff Harrington step forward in 2010 and now we work together at the concerts. By the way, I can’t play an instrument and I have no sense of rhythm and certainly can’t sing. All I can do is tell bad jokes.

In doing a bit for research, it is believed that the origins of music date back 50,000 years, possibly to Africa. Music made its way to Europe in about 1,500 BC. Almost every ancient culture had some form of music. I also read that the earliest known primitive instrument found by archeologists was a flute probably carved from a vulture’s wing.     

The biggest improvement for the city band was construction of the band stand in Kelly Murphy Park. It gave the band a permanent home. Now the band meets at Bonner Springs High School to rehearse at 7 p.m. on Thursdays and then goes to the park in time for the 8:30 p.m. concert. The entire evening is done at about 9:30 p.m. In case of rain or extreme heat, concerts are moved to the Bonner Springs High School cafeteria.

Of course, there is no admission charge and I sincerely hope that if you have never attended a concert, you’ll give some thought to joining your friends and neighbors at the park on Thursday evening to enjoy ice cream and music.

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