Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rocked Out

The town band I play with has performed the annual Fourth of July concert for years. Of late, we’ve had a lot of competition with the local deejay, pounding out popular, but not particularly patriotic (or unpatriotic), rock hits.

The last few years, Mother Nature has gotten in on the act, producing her own spectacular fireworks that precluded any fireworks from the local fire department or cymbal crashes from our band. Seeing the “fireworks” approaching, we hastily packed up our metallic instruments and headed for home.

This year, the town has seen fit to engage not one but three rock bands. They were having trouble finding a place for the traditional town band on the schedule. Finally, they e-mailed our secretary last night and told him, ‘Just forget about it.’

This event is largely billed as a teenie carnival, catering to roller coaster kids who would roll their eyes at a rollicking march by Sousa or Fillmore. The venue is at the middle school, with the only field in town big enough for this kind of crowd or a safe fireworks display.

That pretty much explains why the town band is out and three rock bands are in to play music that has nothing at all to do with the Fourth of July.

I must admit to being disappointed, even though I am “concerted out”. Patriotic concerts are fun to do. Everyone knows the music, there’s lots of musical fireworks with clarinets whirring, trumpets blaring, and cymbals crashing, and we get to see the fireworks at the end of the show.

One year, the music and the fireworks kind of collided. We in the percussion section found the fireworks falling among our chairs.

This year, though, we’re out. According to the weather reports, however, Mother Nature is still planning to show up. From 4 o’clock on, there are predictions of thunderstorms. If the rock musicians want to stand out there, with all their electrical equipment, and brave the elements, they and their fans are welcome to it.

The other band is still on for its Fourth of July concert, however, barring equally bad weather. This year, the program is totally patriotic. No rock and roll. Sousa, not Springsteen. Karl King, not KISS. Those guys are fine for a summer youth concert, but what do they know about Mom, apple pie, and patriotism (Ted Nuget notwithstanding :) )?

If you want to hold an anti-war rally or a big love-in, drug-in, you call in a rock band. When it comes to patriotic, Fourth of July concerts, we brass (and woodwind) bands are the experts. The piccolo obbligato in Stars and Stripes just doesn’t sound the same on an electric guitar.


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