Category Archives: Historical Narratives

The Cowboy Band Returns!!

For Immediate Release

November 4, 2016

mtcowboyband(Northfield, MN)– In 1912, a cowboy band and a group of Blackfeet Indians from newly developed Glacier National Park traveled to expositions in Minneapolis and Chicago to promote the state of Montana. Hired by Great Northern Railway President Louis W. Hill, the son of James J. Hill, the musical ensemble included a cornet soloist named G. Oliver Riggs.

Award-winning freelance journalist Joy Riggs, the great-granddaughter of G. Oliver Riggs, will tell the story of this unusual adventure in an engaging presentation on Monday, November 14. Joy will speak at 3:30 p.m. at the Northfield Retirement Center Chapel, 900 Cannon Valley Drive West, and again at 7 p.m. at the Northfield Senior Center, 1651 Jefferson Parkway. This Vintage Band Festival educational event is free and open to the public.

Joy is writing a book of memoir and history about the extraordinary exploits of her paternal great-grandfather, a pioneering Minnesota band director. She received a 2015 emerging artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), and she serves on the board of the Vintage Band Festival. She blogs about her book project and her family’s adventures in making and appreciating music at mymusicalfamily.blogspot.com. Joy grew up in Alexandria, Minn., and has lived in Northfield for the past 18 years with her husband and their three children.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Mn Legacy logo

VBF Celebrates 10 years: 2006-2016

VBF 2016 Cloisonné pin

For Immediate Release

July 1, 2016

Vintage Band Festival Celebrates 10 Years: July 28-31, 2016

Artistic Director: Paul Niemisto, vintagebandfestival@gmail.com; 612-308-6857

Media Contact: Dan Bergeson, bergeson@northfieldwifi.com; 507-581-0553

(Northfield, MN) – Northfield, located in southern Minnesota — known for its appreciation of music and history — has become a travel destination within the Midwest sought out for its authentic experience. The Vintage Band Festival, to be held July 28-31, will be the highlight of the summer as it welcomes re-enactment bands from across the US and abroad to “dust off their horns and old sheet music” and bring music to life — in all of its glory — from days gone by.

The international festival boasts 100 concerts at outdoor parks, performance stages, dining establishments and pubs in the picturesque river town of Northfield and at a multitude of festival concert sites in nearby communities. Find a full schedule of “living history” performances, auxiliary events and attractions, plus a sample travel itinerary for discovering more treasures in southern Minnesota, at www.vintagebandfestival.org.

Amid the vast collection of performing bands that accentuate cultural influences, genres and period-inspired repertoires several Midwest historic revival bands are participating in this year’s Festival. Today’s audience can hear what Presidents Lincoln and Davis, Generals Lee and Grant, and their contemporaries heard in their

The 1st Brigade Band, from Watertown, Wisconsin, dressed in navy blue uniforms takes as its inspiration the  eighteen men from the Brodhead Brass Band who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 as the Band of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th U.S. Army Corps. They served under the command of General William T. Sherman. After locating and restoring dented and broken instruments and reconstructing torn music sheets, the 1st Brigade Band continues this musical legacy from 150 years ago. This will be the third time this band has performed at the Vintage Band Festival.

Another ensemble which will relive music of the 19th Century is the Independent Silver Band (ISB) of Mount Vernon, Illinois. Back in its heyday, the community enjoyed “first class entertainment and boundless enjoyment” as the ISB played for “balls, picnics, parties, political rallies, and more.” By bringing together interested brass players and percussionists from Mt. Vernon and surrounding cities and towns in southern Illinois, William L. Reynolds created a proper team of dedicated persons who could provide the chance to hear the music of a bygone time. With their very stylish green uniforms, unique helmets, and a complete “show” with narration, they will be coming to Northfield to entertain for a second time.

19th century brass bands have been described as having sweet and mellow intonations, but to have survived and flourished in a time of great conflict within our country, the music served a broader, brasher purpose that uplifted the morale of its people during an era of clashing dissonance. This unforgettable time would become a defining part of our national heritage and have a pronounced and resounding effect on the history of music in America today.

2016 is also within the centennial period of World War I and some bands will honor this history and present an additional focus for the Festival.  A highlight will be an outdoor Victory Dance with the Buddy Koopmans Swing Orchestra on Saturday night.

While the bands will perform individual concerts on all of the Festival days, on Saturday, July 30th, the Battle of the Bands takes place at noon on the Riverfront. Many community bands from all over Minnesota will also be included in the schedule each day. Evening entertainment will include appearances by Copper Street Brass, Jack Brass Band and Banda La Verdadera, all well-known professional ensembles from the metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Brass bands have been important in Minnesota since the 1850s. The Great Western Band was active as early as 1858. The St. Anthony Brass Band played for the grand opening of the suspension bridge over the Mississippi in St. Anthony in 1863. In 1861, the Red Wing brass band played as they sent Civil War volunteers to Fort Snelling. When the soldiers returned after the war, they were greeted by the Great Western Band at the St. Paul Train Station. A group from the Vintage Band Festival, The Manitou Regimental Band, played in 2015 for a reenactment of the return of Minnesota troops from the Civil War arriving on a paddle wheeler at Fort Snelling.

For more information on how the pages of history turn as the musical faintness has been captured in the wafts of distant winds and brought into the present, visit the Vintage Band website at www.vintagebandfestival.org. The 2016 band roster and complete schedule of events is located there. Find Vintage Band Festival on Facebook at “Vintage Band Festival” and Twitter at @vintagebandfest.

 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

VBF Presents “Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War”

March 28, 2016

For Immediate Release

For more information contact Jan Stevens (sstevenshome@yahoo.com ; 507-244-0500).

Northfield, Minnesota—On Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 3:45pm at the Northfield Retirement Center and again at 7:00pm at the Northfield Senior Center, Vintage Band Festival presents “Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War.” The public is invited to experience the stirring sounds of traditional fife and drum music as it was played in the United States Army during the American Civil War.

Two 45-year members of the state’s premier Civil War re-enacting unit, the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, will explain and demonstrate the instruments and various calls, signals and martial airs that were an essential part of the daily life of all Minnesota’s volunteer soldiers 150 years ago. The men will be wearing authentic copies of original clothing and accessories.

John Guthmann and Jim Moffet will recount how they found an annotated original music book in the collection of the Anoka County Historical Society that has proven to be instrumental in the ongoing musicology of this segment of American folk music. The book was written by George Bruce and Dan Emmett and is titled “Drummers’ and Fifers’ Guide”.

“Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War” is presented by Vintage Band Festival, a 10-year old organization dedicated to showcasing vintage brass and wind music in Northfield and other southern Minnesota communities. The next Vintage Band Festival will be held July 28-31, 2016 in Northfield.

Fall 2015 Report to Friends of VBF

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

 One Day Festival August 1, 2015

Our second one-day event on August 1 was a tremendous success. 12 bands played on the Bridge Square stage during the 12-hour festival and donations from the audience reached $8,000. Thanks to Riverwalk Market Fair for another fruitful collaboration!

Financial Update

On August 3, 2015 Vintage Band Festival was able to meet all of its past obligations, pay for the expenses of the 2015 one-day festival and continue into the fall with a positive cash balance. Since that time, additional donations and grant awards have resulted in a cash balance of $20,000. Since the projected budget of the 2016 festival is approximately $100,000, $80,000 remains to be raised. We plan to accomplish this with a combination of grants, business sponsorships and appeals to VBF friends like you!

Homecoming at Fort Snelling

VBF sponsored the music for the reenactment of the 150th anniversary of the 2nd Minnesota Infantry’s homecoming at historic Fort Snelling on August 15.  Thanks to The Manitou Regimental Band for a fabulous job!

Vintage Band Festival Presents

VBF hosted three amazing educational programs during the fall. On September 28 Paul Maybery gave a presentation on the history of brass bands in the United States. William Crowder, “Bugler Bill”, was in period dress on October 26 and demonstrated dozens of bugle calls in a “day in the life” of the United States Army infantry. On November 23, Joy Riggs read from her forthcoming biography of her great grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs, a real-life music man. Thanks to our friends at the Northfield Retirement Center and the Northfield Senior Center for being great partners in this effort.

 News from the Board of Directors

Jesse Streitz joined the Board at the November meeting. Jesse is a recently retired local business owner and a fine clarinetist. Welcome Jesse! Jim Haas, VBF Treasurer, announced his plans to resign from the Board at the end of 2015. Thanks to Jim for his outstanding work during the past two years!

VBF Secures SEMAC Grant

Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council awarded Vintage Band Festival a $10,000 Arts and Culture Heritage Grant in November. The money will be used to support the participation of a number of Midwest bands in the 2016 festival. Thanks to Board Secretary Joy Riggs for her successful grant application.

2016 Festival

The next multi-day Vintage Band Festival is scheduled for July 28-31, 2016. The band roster is nearing completion and promises to be an outstanding array of variety and talent. 2016 will be the 10-year anniversary of Vintage Band Festival and next year’s festival will be the sixth staging of this unique blend of brass and wind music,

You Can Help!

Please consider a year-end tax-deductible donation to Vintage Band Festival. You can make a secure donation on our website, vintagebandfestival.org, or send a check to Vintage Band Festival, 204 W. 7th St.., Box130, Northfield, MN 55057.

Vintage Band Festival Educational Series

Monday September 28, 2015: 3:15pm at the Northfield Retirement Center Chapel and 7:00 PM at the Northfield Senior Center Performance Room. Paul Mayberry of Savage, MN, music historian, arranger and conductor (as well as a tuba player} is our inaugural  speaker.  He is well known for finding  brass band music from the 19th century and arranging it for bands to perform today.  He arranged the music for Ken Burns’ television series on the Civil War and on baseball.  Paul will bring rare 19th century brass band instruments, photographs and recordings to present a program on the Story of Brass Bands in America.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Bugler bill stillMonday October 26, 2015: 3:15pm at the Northfield Retirement Center Chapel and 7:00 PM at the Northfield Senior Center Performance Room. Bugler Bill, a Civil War Re-enactor and bugle historian from the Twin Cities will present a lively program on Civil War  Bugler history and do all the calls “in character.”    He is a popular presenter at Civil War Round Tables and in schools. He will bring several bugles  to show and to play. There’s a well-done Youtube video here that previews Bugler Bill’s presentation.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

my musical family posterMonday November 23, 2015: 3:15pm at the Northfield Retirement Center Chapel and 7:00 PM at the Northfield Senior Center Performance Room. Northfield’s own Joy Riggs will give us the highlights of a book she is writing about her own Great Grandfather G. Oliver Riggs, a 19th and early 20th Century Midwestern Band Director, a real live Music Man.  He toured with a band in the early 20th Century that visited Civil War Battle Fields to dedicate monuments to Soldiers from the upper Midwest.  Joy comes from generations of music educators and is a dedicated volunteer for many music groups in Northfield,  serving on the Board of Directors for the Northfield Youth Choirs and for the Vintage Band Festival.  She is an award winning magazine columnist, writer and a blogger at My Musical Family.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.