Even as spring struggled to get to its feet one Sunday afternoon last month, a nostalgic audience was marching down memory lane, led by members and guests of the William F. Myers' Sons Band and the heart-warming sounds that have been produced by community bands since the 1800s in Carroll County.
Aided by the band's venerable announcer, Dave Reifsnider, the master of ceremonies for concerts from 1952-1994, three current and past band conductors delighted an audience that filled the Carroll Arts Center theater to the brim with smiles.
The Myers Band had gathered for its 75th anniversary concert, led by conductors Ben Messinger, 1984-present, Glenn Patterson, 1965-1984, and Richard A. Humbert, 1942-present.
The three led the band through tunes such as, "The Little Giant March," "Legionnaires on Parade," "Valley Forge," Civil War tunes and "God Bless America" during the May 18 performance of a repertoire of 12 musical selections and an encore.
Having played in the Myers' Band in the 1960s, I must admit I was disappointed that the band did not play one of my all-time community band favorites, "Old Man River," the show tune classic by Jerome Kern from the 1927 musical "Show Boat."
The Myers' Band hearkens to Carroll County's earliest beginnings, when faith and churches, families, art and cultural events, especially music, were have always been the cornerstone of our quality of life.
Between 1857 and 1952, there were 40 bands incorporated in Carroll County.
Names such as the Carroll County Concert Band, the Warfieldsburg Brass Band and the Double Creek Cornet Band, to name just a few, attracted fans of all ages.
Over the years, the venues have changed, whether it is the local church, cotillions at the old Main Court Inn that once stood at the corner of Main and Court Street, the Odd Fellows Hall, the Riding Club or Frock's Sunnybrook Farm.
According to June 18, 2001 article by Sun staff writer Maria Blackburn in the Baltimore Sun, "It's love of music and family, not glitz, that makes the Myers band unique. Named for the Westminster meatpacking company that founded it in 1938… the William F. Myers and Sons band is a company band without a company. The family-owned business, which made sausage, scrapple and country ham, was bought out by a competitor more than 20 years ago. But its band plays on…
"The William F. Myers and Sons band was formed … after the Pleasant Valley Community Band in Carroll County folded. Oliver Myers, son of the company's founder William F. Myers, liked bands and thought everyone at the company should play in one…."
Arts programs and cultural events such as the Myers' Band concert add to our sense of community and quality of life by bringing people together for a shared experience.
Historically, the power of art strengthens a region, spiritually and financially. The quality and value of a community's arts and cultural programs contribute to a broader sense of vibrancy, optimism and self-worth.