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Thread: Brass Bands in the US

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Leadwood, MO

    Brass Bands in the US

    Are they on the rise or the decline? I love brass bands, love to listen and to play in them but don't really have the opportunity in my area to do so currently. I'm playing in a concert band and a big band but Brass Bands are such a unique thing. What are the opportunities in your area?
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  2. #2
    I can't speak to whether they are on the rise or decline as i do not know, however I do perform in a British style brass band in South Hadley, MA, known as West Mass Brass under the direction of Kenneth McCance. It is a wonderful group. There is a quality to the brass band sound that I absolutely love, although I am also involved in the community band setting as well.

    I do know of two other brass bands in the Manchester CT area, beyond that I have no idea.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    In south Florida there is "Orchid City Brass Band". They're fairly new and formed about 5 or 6 years ago. They have a small following but sometimes it's hard to get the word out. The "Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches" is doing a joint concert with them at two venues in December with the intent to generate more interest.
    Last edited by RickF; 11-22-2017 at 11:27 AM.
    Rick Floyd
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  4. #4
    There are at least 3 in the Twin Cities area. I'm not fully connected to this scene, so there may be more.

    When I first moved here 20 years ago there were 2 I knew of: The Lake Wobegon Brass Band here in the cities and the Sheldon Theater Brass Band in Red Wing (about an hour away). In more recent years I've heard of the Twin Cities Brass Band as well. Seems like a pretty healthy environment here, anyway.

    The North American Brass Band Association does not list ANY in Minnesota, so apparently the ones I know of don't see a need to be in the Association. So there are different "tracks" a band might take. NABBA also shows none on the West Coast, and I believe there are several out there. I'm not sure how one would obtain an accurate count to see what the trend is!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  5. #5
    Wikipedia has the following information:

    United States[edit]

    Brass bands in the British tradition are becoming more popular through the efforts of the North American Brass Band Association, which organizes an annual brass band convention and set piece style contest. The US Open Brass Band Championships are held in early November and serves as the countries leading entertainment competition.[citation needed] Brass Band Festivals such as The Great American Brass Festival, Ohio Brass Arts Festival and the Mid-Atlantic Brass Festival occur throughout the year.[citation needed]
    Brass bands were very popular throughout the United States in the late 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century. Well known bands of virtuoso musicians toured widely, and most towns had their own bands that put on weekend music concerts. One notable example of this was The Ohio State University Marching Band which formed in 1879 and still performs with only brass and percussion instruments. Other groups, ranging from benevolent societies to large factories, would often have a band. The brass band movement has undergone a resurgence in the late twentieth century, led by the North American Brass Band Association. The United States boasts a number of professional brass bands, including the Brass Band of Battle Creek, the River City Brass Band, and the Orchid City Brass Band (West Palm Beach, FL); community brass bands such as the Central Ohio Brass Band, Dublin Silver Band, Motor City Brass Band, Atlantic Brass Band, Imperial Brass, Brass of the Potomac, Chesapeake Silver Cornet Brass Band (Delaware), Five Lakes Silver Band, Allegheny Brass Band, The Brass Band of Central Florida, the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band (Red Wing, MN), the Lake Wobegon Brass Band (Anoka, MN), the Twin Cities Brass Band (Bloomington, MN), the Fountain City Brass Band, the Triangle Brass Band, the Smoky Mountain Brass Band and the River Brass; several collegiate brass bands, including the James Madison University Brass Band, the Mansfield University Brass Band, the Slippery Rock University Brass Ensemble and the University of Georgia British Brass Band; and various youth brass bands, including the Triangle Youth Brass Band and the Fountain City Youth Brass Bands also exist.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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    Facebook: davewerden
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  6. Living in Missouri, I have had the pleasure of attending concerts of the Fountain City Brass Band in Kansas City. The concerts lived up to their reputation as multiple Open winners. I highly recommend them. Kansas City has many municipal fountains, including a grand display in front of the Nelson Art Gallery, hence the name of the band.

  7. #7
    I'm a major brass band fan -- I've got over 500 brass band CDs, I've traveled to the UK to see concerts and go to clinics, and I attend NABBA every year. I think US brass bands are definitely on the rise. There has been a very noticeable increase in quality over the past ten years or so across the board with all of the bands, but in particular a huge jump forward this past year. The top tier of bands in the US, for which I would include Atlantic, Fountain City, JMU; I'd say in general they belong somewhere near the tail end of the championship division in the UK, which is a very rarefied place to be. With the Fountain City Brass Band getting second place (higher than any UK-based band) at the prestigious Brass in Concert contest this past weekend this is a big milestone. I think the major stumbling block for further development is how spread out we are here.

  8. I am like Barry, a Brass Band fanatic. I have played in the New England Brass Band since 2008, sub-ing for a year and then as 1st baritone for the last 9 years. Every year I go to Wales to the International Brass Band Summer School (IBBSS). The IBBSS is run by Nick and Alison Childs (Nick is MD of Black Dyke) and usually has 100-120 attendees from all over the world. It is always the 1st week of August, but there are two other summer schools in the UK the week before and the week after IBBSS. Lots of fun and I have attended 9 times since summer 2008!

    As Barry says, the biggest impediment to British-style brass banding is distance. Being located in the greater Boston area, we draw membership from CT, RI, MA, NH, and ME, with our MD, Stephen Bulla, flying in on Monday nights from Baltimore. Just the individual driving for 30 people to make it to one place in central-eastern Massachusetts on Monday nights is well over 1,000 people miles. NABBA Championships in Fort Wayne are over 850 milee from our Wilmington rehearsal hall. The cost to the band and to individuals to compete at NABBA is well over $20,000. It is not possible for us to attend regular competitions due to the cost. time, and organization required to move people half-way across the country.

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  9. #9
    Here is Orlando we have the Brass Band of Central Florida, I've seen them a few times in concert and they are fantastic.

    Their director used to be Chad Shoopman, a killer lead trumpet player who currently is director of bands at Arizona.
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  10. I am going to be on holiday next spring travelling from theUK to Chicago then onward to Memphis and New Orleans are there any Britishstyle brass bands in these areas ?

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