News Column

After 121 years, band is still on the march

August 25, 2014

By Krishana Davis, Carroll County Times, Westminster, Md.

Aug. 25--About five dozen men and women donning dark green uniforms adorned with yellow stripes picked up their clarinets, saxophones, snares and symbols Sunday evening to prepare for a march down Park Avenue.

It had been three years since Westminster residents last had the opportunity to hear the stylings of the Westminster Municipal Band outdoors on a summer evening.

Last year, the band held an indoor concert, and the two years before that, inclement weather kept the 121-year-old ensemble from gathering in Bell Grove Square Park, according to band director Sandy Miller.

Some families brought their lawn chairs out onto the grassy park. A few couples reclined on blankets. People who live nearby took to their porches to better hear a few selections from the band.

As the band played, Barbara Zepp, of Westminster, glanced between the band and the pages of her novel. She was reading the "Murder, She Wrote" series by author J.B. Fletcher.

"I don't go anywhere without a book," said Zepp, who was sitting in a lawn chair with the rest of the assembled crowd. "It's an extension of my arm."

The band's concert has been on Zepp's calendar for months. She said she enjoys listening to music while she reads.

"[The band], they are Westminster people and I'm Westminster people," Zepp said. "I support all the bands. It's a good Sunday for this."

Several feet away, Pat Burkholder, also of Westminster, nodded her head to the music, She said she enjoys the upbeat music marching bands play.

Burkholder, 76, said her interest in bands started when she joined the Westminster High School Band. She played the saxophone.

"It's good to see a decent size crowd," Burkholder said. "It seems most people who enjoy this kind of music in my age range are dying off."

As the band played a selection of songs from "The Birth of Blues," The Black Jack March," "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Your Grand Old Flag," some younger members of the audience seemed to perk up as well.

Taylor Steakin, 12, said he enjoys the sound of the band.

Taylor's interest in the band was passed down by his mother, Brandy Brame, 37, who has been with the band for nearly 10 years, but didn't play Sunday evening, as she cradled her newborn.

"I play the trumpet myself," said Taylor. "It makes me feel happy to play an instrument."

Brame has been around the band since she was about 3. Members of her family were part of the band as well.

"It's a family thing," Brame said. "Because I grew up with it I want [my kids] to experience it as well. It's fun and it's artistic."

The band is mostly made of up older members, but a few young people also are among its ranks.

Miller said the all-volunteer band is always interested in bringing on new members.

Dahl Drenning, of Frederick, is one such newcomer, but not new to marching.


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Source: Carroll County Times (Westminster, MD)

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