‘And the Band Plays On’
Tenants Harbor — The Midcoast Community Band will celebrate its past, present and future Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Odd Fellows Hall, corner of Watts Avenue and Elementary School Road.
The evening concert, preceded by a 5:30 p.m. dessert buffet, is the second in celebration of "… And the Band Plays On,” a memory book of the band’s first 25 years written and compiled by band member Betty Bilodeau with band leader Jo Anne Parker and editorial assist from fellow band members Juni Shepardson and Joe Anderson. Bilodeau started working on the book in 2010, but had to put it aside to deal with some health concerns.
“I returned to the book and worked diligently last summer and fall (2011) to finish it. Then to Juni for editing and picture placement, went through that a few times,” she said.
Their goal was to have the author-published book in hand for the Thomaston 4th of July parade, but it took a bit more time. On Aug. 22, there was an official debut concert at the band’s current rehearsal space, the American Legion Hall in Thomaston.
The book was conceived as a fundraiser; a community band has many expenses, beginning with the cost of sheet music. Others include uniforms, which get their own chapter in the book, and, for a non-marching parade band such as the MCCB, a rolling stage. In recent years, the band has had many an adventure in regards to its parade flatbeds and these — including an unplanned road trip through Lincolnville — are recounted in the book, which is primarily a collection of band member recollections and photographs.
Bilodeau first gathered stories from current band members, then began to prod past members for theirs. She said she was a bit frustrated in that regard, particularly trying to get way-back stories from John Weeks who, with Parker’s late husband, was an original member.
“He kept telling me, the only stories he knew were not fit to print! He and John P. used to go to places together, but guess the stories were too risqué for this family book (or so he says),” said Bilodeau.
Other source materials were two scrapbooks maintained by Jo Anne Parker, one of photos and another of programs; and article that appeared in the Courier-Gazette and VillageSoup.
Aspects of the Midcoast Community Band experience explored include the local families who have participated over the years; the mix of trained and beginner musicians; the practical dilemmas faced by such a large, mixed-age group (a sketch reveals an as-yet-unfulfilled dream of having a portable toilet on the flatbed); and fond memories of the many benefit performances and local venues the MBBC has been a part of.
The stories and quotes reveal the rich rewards of being a part of a community band, and the Sept. 29 concert will illustrate the wide variety of music band members learn and perform. The program offers “Carioca,” featuring the percussion section of which Bilodeau is part; “Rustic Overture” by Frank Erickson; a medley from Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”; Ravel’s “Bolero”; a medley of Baroque songs by Henry Purcell; K.L. King’s “Georgia Girl”, a ragtime march; a medley of Irving Berlin songs; the Spanish number “Espana Cani”; Duke Ellington’s “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me” featuring Ed Pessara on alto sax; and a Broadway set including “On Broadway,” a medley from “A Chorus Line” and “Broadway’s Best” including music from “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “Cats” and “Miss Saigon.” Children of all ages will appreciate “Disney Blockbusters,” a medley of songs from “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”
Admission to the concert is free; those in attendance will be able to purchase a copy of “… And the Band Plays On” for $19.95 either during intermission or after the concert. For more information about the concert or about joining the band, which rehearses Wednesday at the Thomaston legion hall, call Parker at 372-6737.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or email@example.com.