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Strike Up the Band

This slideshow contains 27 items
1
Union Brass Band, Ferry Village, 1873

Union Brass Band, Ferry Village, 1873

Item 17856 info
Maine Historical Society

The earliest bands in the United States were attached to military units and used during drills and troop movements.

Military bands, first officially authorized in 1821, but in existence since colonial militia days, also participated in ceremonies and, sometimes, public entertainment.

The Union Brass Band of Ferry Village was the first civilian band in Cape Elizabeth.

Band members are, from left, John Emery, leader of the band; Alec Campbell, Edward Boltenhouse, C.A. Tilton, Fred Russell, John Melia, Fred Brooks, Charles Eveleth, William Willey, and Bill Jones Dyer.


2
Cyrus Libby Curtis, 1859

Cyrus Libby Curtis, 1859

Item 7135 info
Maine Historical Society

After the Civil War, Congress stopped funding military bands. Civilian bands then proliferated, often serving military as well as civilian needs.

The Portland Band began in 1827 and served as the First Regimental Band during the Civil War, then returned to civilian status.

Cyrus Libby Curtis was a trombone player in the Old Portland Band.


3
Chandler's Band, Portland, 1892

Chandler's Band, Portland, 1892

Item 17737 info
Maine Historical Society

Cyrus Curtis invited Daniel Hiram Chandler to Portland in 1843 to lead the Portland Band.

Curtis, along with other band members, enlisted during the Civil War, taking the band with them.

The Portland Band became Chandler's Band in January 1872. The band is still in operation.


4
Chandler's Band members, ca. 1897

Chandler's Band members, ca. 1897

Item 6124 info
Maine Historical Society

A 1942 newspaper article noted that while Daniel Chandler led the band, the group "was considered the premiere band of the State, and was in great demand, playing in nearly every city in the area bounded by Washington, Montreal, Detroit and St. Louis."


5
Chandler's Band, Portland, 1898

Chandler's Band, Portland, 1898

Item 17855 info
Maine Historical Society

Community bands sprang up everywhere after the Civil War, with membership composed of boys and men.

Some all-women bands existed and some family bands included women. However, band members generally were men.


6
Bridgton Band in Pondicherry Square, 1870s

Bridgton Band in Pondicherry Square, 1870s

Item 5782 info
Maine Historical Society

Bridgton's first band, the Bridgton Brass Band, began in the fall of 1851.

The group re-formed after the Civil War, but members soon split off and formed a rival band.

This image appears to be the rival group, the Bridgton Cadet Band.


7
Venerable Cunner Association and Propeller Club Band, 1895

Venerable Cunner Association and Propeller Club Band, 1895

Item 10007 info
Maine Maritime Museum

The Venerable Cunner Association and Propeller Club, a social group formed in 1845 in Cape Elizabeth, also had its own band.

Members are shown at the group's 50th anniversary meeting in 1895.

The group usually met at Portland Head Light.


8
Maine Conference Seminary Band, 1896

Maine Conference Seminary Band, 1896

Item 14466 info
Bucksport Historical Society

The profusion of community bands gave aspiring musicians many opportunities to learn and perform.

Since most schools did not have instrumental music programs until the early 20th century, students often learned to play instruments through community band participation.


9
Pumgustuk Fire Company, Yarmouth, ca. 1900

Pumgustuk Fire Company, Yarmouth, ca. 1900

Item 10795 info
Maine Historical Society

Before radio, musical recordings, automobiles and other means of mobility, town bands were central to the life of many communities.

Fire departments often had their own bands, such as this one from Pumgustuk Fire Company in Yarmouth.


10
Stockholm Band at Lutheran Church, ca. 1900

Stockholm Band at Lutheran Church, ca. 1900

Item 12776 info
Stockholm Historical Society

The community usually provided financial support for the bands through donations from individuals and businesses.

Bands needed funds for instruments, uniforms, and, often, paid band leaders or music teachers.


11
William E. Chandler, Portland, ca. 1910

William E. Chandler, Portland, ca. 1910

Item 17727 info
Maine Historical Society

When Daniel Chandler (1818-1902) retired from Chandler's Band, his son, William E. Chandler, left Chandler's Band.

William Chandler then started the Portland Band, taking the original name of Chandler's Band.

He later started W.E. Chandler's Band, an orchestra, and other musical groups.


12
Chandler's Band uniform, ca. 1950

Chandler's Band uniform, ca. 1950

Item 18821 info
Maine Historical Society

While band uniforms changed over the years, they often continue to sport a military look, reflecting the origins of bands in the military.


13
Chandler's Band hat, ca. 1950

Chandler's Band hat, ca. 1950

Item 18822 info
Maine Historical Society

Chandler's Band, which continues as a Portland institution, once was affiliated with Bowdoin College in Brunswick as well as serving as a community band in Portland.

Members played at Bowdoin events, including graduations.


14
Chandler Concert Co., Freeport, 1908

Chandler Concert Co., Freeport, 1908

Item 17728 info
Maine Historical Society

Members of town bands frequently had jobs in a variety of bands or concert groups.

The groups frequently traveled, playing in locations around the state.


15
W. E. Chandler's Band, Kennebunkport, 1910

W. E. Chandler's Band, Kennebunkport, 1910

Item 17723 info
Maine Historical Society

The same bandleader also might lead a number of groups.

When Daniel Chandler headed Chandler's Band, he led other town bands and was the music teacher for others.

Among his students was R. B. Hall (1858-1907), probably Maine's most notable bandmaster and composer of many marches.


16
Gem Theatre Orchestra, Peaks Island, 1910

Gem Theatre Orchestra, Peaks Island, 1910

Item 17726 info
Maine Historical Society

More formal amusements, such as the Gem Theater on Peaks Island, also required musicians.

Several of these musicians also played with the W. E. Chandler Band, and some had been members of Chandler's Band.

The Gem Theatre opened in 1884 as a skating rink and was converted to a summer stock theater in 1898.


17
Varney Band, Peak's Island, 1910

Varney Band, Peak's Island, 1910

Item 17724 info
Maine Historical Society

Some Gem Theatre Orchestra members also were in the Varney Band.


18
German Picnic, Long Island, 1912

German Picnic, Long Island, 1912

Item 17729 info
Maine Historical Society

William Chandler (1857-1922) played about half a dozen band instruments. His favorite was the clarinet.

He was known for his teaching abilities, helping those who knew little about their instruments to play well, and to perform as part of a group.

He taught piano and organ as well as band instruments.


19
Chandler's Band, Long Island, 1912

Chandler's Band, Long Island, 1912

Item 17730 info
Maine Historical Society

William Chandler reportedly was a "genius for arranging programs suited to all occasions."

His string orchestra performed for dances and concerts and he assisted with outdoor pageants and other celebrations.


20
Chandler's Band, Calais, 1913

Chandler's Band, Calais, 1913

Item 17732 info
Maine Historical Society

Members of Chandler's Band of Portland getting ready to perform June 11, 1913 in Calais.

Even though jazz started to become the popular music in the 1910s, community bands that played marches and other traditional band music were still active and sought after for parades and civic events.


21
Henry Dunham, Bridgton, 1913

Henry Dunham, Bridgton, 1913

Item 17731 info
Maine Historical Society

Henry Dunham of Bridgton, a violin player with various bands, including W. E. Chandler's Band, with his dogs at his home in Bridgton, June 21, 1913.


22
Leroy Nason and friend, Cape Cottage, 1913

Leroy Nason and friend, Cape Cottage, 1913

Item 17734 info
Maine Historical Society

Musicians Leroy Nason of Portland, right, and an unidentified friend pose at Cape Cottage. They were performing as part of the Cape Theatre Orchestra in 1913.

Nason, who grew up in Kennebunkport, played in a variety of bands, including Chandler's Band and various of W.E. Chandler's bands. He played the clarinet.


23
Donovan's Band, Houlton, 1914

Donovan's Band, Houlton, 1914

Item 13202 info
Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum

Donovan's Band of Houlton was formed in 1911.


24
Fifth Infantry Band, ca. 1923

Fifth Infantry Band, ca. 1923

Item 17874 info
Maine Historical Society

Military bands made a comeback following their initial post-Civil War demise.

When they returned, they adopted some of the European style music that many town bands had begun using, including the addition of woodwinds to the traditionally brass bands, and new instrumentation.

This is the Fifth Infantry Band from Fort Williams in a 1920 parade.


25
Houlton Community Band , 1924

Houlton Community Band , 1924

Item 13212 info
Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum

After World War I, entertainment shifted with the private automobile, radio, and phonograph records becoming more available.

Musicians found fewer jobs available. Even though many community bands continued, vaudeville, amusement parks and similar entertainments began to disappear.

The Houlton Community Band on Market Square on August 28, 1924.

Members of the band included Allie G. Merritt, Walter Melvin, Bert Wetmore, Sam Esters, Arthur McElevee, Emmons Robinson, Elrood Fartley, Harry Tilley, Clifford Wetmore, Cecil Stone, Earl Stone, Wilson and Don Movers.


26
Cape Elizabeth Fire Department Band, 1933

Cape Elizabeth Fire Department Band, 1933

Item 17872 info
Maine Historical Society

Town bands and organization bands continued into the Great Depression, sometimes even helping the government effort at recovery.

Here, the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department band plays from a hay wagon in a National Recovery Act Parade in October 1933.


27
Monson band on parade, 1939

Monson band on parade, 1939

Item 10747 info
Monson Historical Society

By the last decades of the twentieth century, town bands began making a comeback as community bands.

They offered a place where people who had played in high school or college bands to continue their musical experience.

Sources: Gordon W. Bowie, "R. B. Hall and the Community Bands of Maine," dissertation, University of Maine, 1993.

"Director of Chandler's Band Marched With Outfit in First Street Parade," Portland Sunday Telegram, July 16, 1939

"Chandler's Band, Well-Known Unit Commemorating 100th Birthday This Year," Portland Sunday Telegram, August 16, 1942.

"William E. Chandler, Noted Portland Musician, Dies," Portland Press Herald, May 15, 1922.

David R. Proper, "A Joyful Noise, 'Sounding Brass and Tinkling Cymbal': The Late Nineteenth-Century New England Town Band," in The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings 1996, 160-175.

Barbara Merrill Fox, Lest We Forget: Band Stands of Maine, An Illustrated History.Bar Harbor, Maine: Foxrun Associates, 2003.


This slideshow contains 27 items
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