This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006 - Listen to the Band

One of the things I do for fun is to serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Castle Rock Band. The band, under Bandmaster Kent Brandebery, was formed in 1999, and plays concerts at the Castle Rock Community Bandstand, the Douglas County Fair, and other occasional locations.

Mainly, my job is to let these fine musicians catch their breath. To pass the time, I talk about the history of the next piece -- that research usually provided by the Bandmaster. Along the way, I've had the chance to learn a little bit about the American band movement.

It really started after the American Civil War in 1865. A lot of musicians returned home, and were recruited again to keep playing for various civic functions. Typically, they paid a small fee to the local band director. He (I've haven't heard of any women yet) then provided leadership, and helped train other community folks to play instruments.

Often, bands were adopted by various local organizations, who raised money for instruments and uniforms. You knew that a town was serious when at last it built its own bandstand, right in the town square.

And that's about how it went in Castle Rock. The first band was organized back in 1886. It had nine men, playing Cornets, Alto and Tenor Horns, and two Drums.

The local newspaper of the time -- the Record Journal -- seemed to enjoy writing about them. But they weren't always kind. After announcing the band's formation, and that they'd ordered their instruments, the Record Journal gave an update on Oct. 13 1886.

"[T]he band boys are happy, they have received their horns and are making progress under the able instruction of Prof. Bryant. The boys gave their first open-air blow out on Saturday night, and they say that [if] God will forgive them for the breach of the peace and quiet of the town this time they will not repeat their performance soon. May their request be granted."

But they got better. By July 6, 1892, after a ball game between Sedalia and Castle Rock (hundreds of Castle Rock folks went over by train), "...the Castle Rock Cornet Band played a few pieces which called the people together and speakers were introduced and entertained the people for a short time."

On Oct. 1, 1909, the Record Journal reported about the county fair, "The band boys had plenty of music and gave the people the best they had. They were not afraid they would more than earn their money either. No former Douglas County Fair ever was furnished with anything like as good music." I think that's praise.

And sure enough, by the early 1900's, Castle Rock build a band stand on Court House Square.

Then things got interesting. The bandstand appears in historic photographs up to around the late 1920's. Then, abruptly it was gone. Following W.W. I no newspaper stories regarding the band are to be found.

Mr. Brandebery, a local historian of some note, went looking for it, and did turn it up. It is now a toolshed in an alley off Gilbert Street in Castle Rock. The legs were sawn off -- but the dimensions were still recognizable.

And in fact, those same dimensions were used to recreate the bandstand on the northwest corner of the new Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. And various local groups, including the library, helped raise the funds to resurrect it (and it's a lot sturdier than the first one).

Maybe you'd like to hear an old-time band playing classics from a hundred years ago. I recommend it: it's fun for the whole family.

Here are the dates and times for the rest of the year. We hope to see you!

July 29 - Evening concert, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (Castle Rock Community Bandstand)

August 12 - Fair Concert, Saturday, 9 a.m. (Castle Rock Community Bandstand)

September 17 - Fall Concert, Sunday, 1:30 p.m. (Castle Rock Community Bandstand)

November 18 - Star Lighting Program, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. In front of the Douglas County Administrative Building, Castle Rock.

December 11 - Holidays Concert, Monday, 7:30 p.m., Faith Lutheran Church.

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