Our band is marching on

Volunteer ensemble gears up for a series of July performances

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2000

Patriotic lip killers and ``Amazing Grace'' await the members of the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band.

Every summer since 1976, this diverse assortment of musicians has assembled to make music for a few weeks in June and July. This year the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band will perform two outdoor concerts and provide live music for the Juneau and Douglas Fourth of July parades.

The first concert is at noon on Friday, June 30, followed by another at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 2. Both are at Marine Park and are free.

``Both concerts will be different,'' said Ron Maas, a trumpet player who has been involved with the band since the mid-1970s. ``They're choosing music that's more difficult than we normally play, so we're having to work. It's more fun for us, more of a challenge.''

Longtime band leader Stan Westbrook stepped down last year, and this year trombonists David Landers and Scott Black are co-directing. Landers found that directing the group was a little more work than he expected, but he's enjoying it.

``It's a chance for me to get in front of a group again,'' Landers said. ``I'm working on my master's degree in conducting and it's good to get in front of a group and wave my arms some,'' Landers said.

The Volunteer Marching Band has always been open to any interested and capable musicians. This year's group is still growing, and Maas hopes to see about 50 musicians by the Fourth of July.

Landers said interested musicians are welcome and can just show up at Floyd Dryden Band Room for practice from 7 to 9:30 on Tuesday night.

Material includes a salute to George Cohan, the composer who wrote ``Give My Regards to Broadway,'' and ``Yankee Doodle Dandy.''

``We're also doing `Tiger Rag,' and a really nice arrangement of `Amazing Grace','' said Landers.

``Stars and Strips Forever'' and a handful of well-known marches by American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa are the mainstay of the parade music.

``The parade is just marches. They're real lip killers,'' Maas said. ``It's hard on the chops. Fortunately, I memorize the music, so I don't have to read (and march), but you're bouncing back and forth and cutting your lips.''

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