Friday, July 10, 2020

Strike up the band!

Making music in old New Bern

Peoples Concert Band, New Bern, photographed c. 1913 on the south side of 400 block of South Front Street. This community band was founded in 1913 and was active at least through 1917.

by John B. Green III

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were the heyday of American brass bands and band music.  Bands were formed and sponsored by towns and communities, civic and fraternal organizations, patriotic societies and schools.  Some bands lasted for only a season or two while others performed for years.  They provided music for holidays, celebrations, and political rallies.  They often gave afternoon and evening concerts in public bandstands maintained for that purpose. 

New Bern participated fully in this musical movement.  Dozens of bands of every type existed here over the years.  All are long gone but a few photographs remain.

West Street Graded School Band. West Street Graded School was established in 1884 as the principal public school for African Americans in New Bern. This photo is from The Planet, the school annual published in May 1916.

Knights of Pythias Band, Athenia Lodge No. 8, New Bern, photographed c. 1910 on the steps of the county courthouse. The local lodge of this fraternal order was established in 1872 and existed at least through the 1920s.

Donerson-Hawkins Post No. 24, American Legion drum corps, photographed during New Bern's 1929 historical pageant.

Bandstand, U.S. National Cemetery, New Bern, photograph c. 1908.