Danville gearing up for Brass Band Festival

March 22, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Come high wind or high water, this year's Great American Brass Band Festival June 11-13 will not lack for entertainment. A Friday history conference returns and 17 musical groups are on tap for this year's festival, the 15th annual.

Because weather can play havoc with festival events, especially the Friday night hot air balloon race, festival organizers have scheduled some back-up events. If rain postpones this year's balloon race, "The Music Man" will be shown instead.

"The Music Man depicts small-town America and brass music and we thought it was a perfect fit for this weekend," says Kay Berggren, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For the first time ever, Pioneer Playhouse will open its summer season on Thursday night. Theater-goers are invited to do lunch with Hollywood legends for "Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood."


An opportunity to view the play will fill the evening for those who come to town for the chautauqua tea the afternoon of June 10.

"We've added this night to extend the length of the festival," Berggren says.

The history conference will focus on the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer John Philip Sousa.

"We have some top musical scholars and performers celebrating the sesquicentennial of John Philip Sousa, the most influential band leader in American brass music and the composer of 'Stars and Stripes Forever.'" Berggren says.

As far as the bands, several of the favorites, such as Olympia Brass of New Orleans and Scott Kirby return. Some new offerings are Federal City of Baltimore, which is a Civil War brass band, and Intrada, a British style brass band from Toronto. Sierra Del Mar is a Salvation Army Band out of San Diego. A little international flavor will be added by Franconian Harmonics Estenfeld of Germany.

The other bands scheduled are: The 257th Army Band, Saxton's Cornet Band, Euphouria, Danville Pipe Band, Dixie Power Trio, Circle City Sidewalk Stompers, Advocate Brass Band, Millennium Brass Quintet, Mr. Jack Daniels and U.S. Air Force Band of Flight. Ohio Wheelmen also will perform on old-fashioned bikes.

Brass bands begin playing the morning of June 12. At 11 a.m. the New Orleans-style parade marches down Main Street to the main stage at Centre College where the music continues until the grand finale on Sunday evening.

Listeners bring blankets or chairs and listen to bands playing marches and melodies on authentic Civil War instruments, ragtime favorites, and the swingin' beat of Bourbon Street.

Events include the Great American decorator picnic on Saturday evening and Sunday worship service on the lawn. Street food vendors add to a fun-filled weekend of outdoor band concerts.

Other events throughout the weekend include an Antique and Garden Show by the Heart of Danville.

For more information, contact the Danville-Boyle Convention and Visitors Bureau, 304 S. Fourth St., Danville, Ky. 40422. Call (800) 755-0076 or (859) 236-7794 or log on to

The e-mail address is

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