It’s one of those years. On the years that the Arkansas Traveler Baseball Club is on the road on July 4th the NLRCCB gets the call to pinch hit at Dickey Stephens Park to provide some entertainment for those who choose to use the ballpark as their vantage point for the Pops On The River fireworks display. It’s a great way for the band to celebrate the birthday of the nation which is our home and a chance for the musicians of the band to play before what normally turns out to be several thousand people by the last set. This year we have twenty tunes ready for the crowd and it’s like “how many different ways can you play the same four or five melodies. But this year we have included a couple of medleys of tunes that reach back 150 years or so to the American Civil War. It is an often overlooked fact that the Civil War and its aftermath probably is the main artery from which the “town band” flowed. There were so many bands attached to regiments and other military units during the war that when it was over and these bandsmen made their way either back home or westward that small groups of them found themselves together in various cities, towns and even smaller communities. The love of playing the great tunes that were a part of their wartime existence led them to reform as small bands in these various locales and continue to play. This gave rise to new composers and the growth of the live concert as an American entertainment staple. The military also kept the band s alive that had flourished during the war and each branch and post had some type of ensemble. Of course, the US Marine Band in Washington became the most famous when a young violinist named Sousa became their leader and then branched out with his own touring band. But on this day in 1863 the bands of both the north and south were needed to soothe the nation as the news of the most terrible three-day battle on our soil spread across the land with the name of a little Pennsylvania town suddenly finding itself on the lips of patriots both blue and gray. Gettysburg! Most did not know where it was even located, but they soon became too familiar with it and the story of what had taken place in and around the village. But the bands played on and are still playing today because our nation has withstood many challenges since that July 4th of 1863. So, tonight, as the NLRCCB plays for this Fourth of July I will remember those who have brought us to this point and given us the opportunity to perform for our countrymen and women. God Bless us each and everyone and may there be many, many more Fourth of July concert by bands in our future.
The Fourth of July 150 Years Ago
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