Art Beat: The Municipal Band is back for the summer

99 years ago this month a group of musicians got together in Rapid City and decided to form a band.

They provided dance entertainment and played patriotic songs free for the public every week.

Almost a century later the tradition continues in Rapid City. In this week's Art Beat we take a trip down to Memorial Park to meet the Municipal Band.

Every Wednesday evening in June in July locals and tourists are invited to come down to the park and hear the sounds of the Municipal Band.

Some current band members were interested in how long the Municipal band has been playing music in Rapid City.

After doing some research they found that the beginning of the band dates back to the end of World War 1.

Mary Ann Downs, flute player says "It actually turns out that I found an article that says that the band started in 1918 so we're coming up on our 100th birthday next year and so we are currently throwing around ideas for what we can do to celebrate 100 years of band music in Rapid City."

Mary Ann found out that the band first played in a Rapid City location called Spade Park, followed by Halley Park and by the 1950's they were playing at Canyon Lake.

After the 1972 flood, Memorial Park was created and they started playing in the newly built band shell around 1984, and they've been there ever since.

The music they play makes for a fun night for all ages in the evening air.Don Downs, Director says "Music we're going to be performing is American music. We do a lot of marches, we do a lot of show tunes, we do musical stuff, some popular music. It just makes it entertaining, it's for a easy going concert in the park."

This band has more than 60 members. High school and college students and adults, many who have been in the band for decades.
Mary Ann says "There's a lot of us that have played since about the 70's when Milo Winter and Jack Knowles took over the band so for a number of years so there's quite a few of us that have play all that time."

Don is one of four directors this summer. Gary Hanson, Bill Evans and Mark Bray will also take the baton with each of the four directing two concerts this summer.

The band gets new music every Monday evening, performs on Wednesday and then the director chooses new music that will be ready the following Monday.

Summer bands like this one are truly an American tradition.

Don says "100 years ago people would come out on a hot summer night because they didn't have television and they would get a nice free concert in the park and enjoy the evening entertainment. That was kind of the beginning of what we're doing and we've continued that tradition now into 2017."

The band plays in Memorial park every Wednesday evening in June and July starting at 8.

Don't forget to bring your lawn chair.