Young German band experiencing Kentucky before brass band festival

June 09, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

The early sounds of the Great American Brass Band Festival floated up from the Boyds' backyard in Green Acres Tuesday evening.

Jane and Jerry Boyd hosted a Kentucky cookout for the youth band, Franconian Harmonics, who flew in early to tour the area before the festival. After barbecue sandwiches and all the fixin’s, the group took to the grass for a concert, playing for the Boyds and a gathering of their neighbors and other band buddies.

“There’s nothing like the sound of a 40-piece band playing in your backyard,” said Myrna Miller, who hosted the group at her house Monday.

Half of the group is under 18 years old. They come from Estenfeld, Germany, a town of about 5,000 people. On Friday the group will play at the balloon race and on Saturday at the festival.


It is the first time in the U.S. for most of the band. Silvia Geyer, a flute player, said the experience has been exciting for her son Fabian, 7, a trumpet player and the youngest member of the group. They tracked the flight on the globe at home, and his whole school in Germany knows about the trip. Geyer said they plan to send Danville postcards back, that is if they ever get to stay in the city long enough to shop for them.

Miller has kept the group on the move. They’ve been to the Old Fort Harrod Festival, the Kentucky Horse Park, Maker’s Mark Distillery, shopping at Fayette Mall and My Old Kentucky Home State Park.

Miller’s tireless effort arranging tours, transportation and even shopping discounts has earned her the official title of “Band Buddy.”

The band’s other buddies are Jane Boyd and Rachel White, who grew up in Germany and is the band’s unofficial translator.

Charlene King, a member of the band, said the group was impressed with how friendly everyone in Kentucky has been to them.

“The parties are great,” she said, adding that none of them had expected so many parties.

On Monday, Bob and Myrna Miller had the group over for hamburgers and hot dogs. They rode Go Karts, had a hay ride and made S’mores, all new experiences for them.

Ask the group what they think of the area so far and they’ll respond with a myriad of positive adjectives — “Wonderful.” “Fantastic.” “Great.”

Myrna Miller said the same of the locals who have helped her arrange the trip.

“Every time we ask for anything somebody just steps up,” she said.

Miller has told the group they have to learn two things while here: How to say, “Hey, y’all,” and the lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home.” The band surprised her Monday by gathering around and singing the state song.

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