Calendar Celebrates Music Lore

December 18, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

Music always has been an important part of Carroll County's heritage, from community marching bands to performances at parlor gatherings to school and religious music groups.

"If you wanted to have music, you made it yourself or went to a show," said Joseph M. Getty, director of the Carroll County Historical Society.

To celebrate Carroll's musical tradition, the historical society has created a 1992 calendar with historic photos of various county musical groups. Facts about local music lore accompany the pictures.

The calendar, the fourth in a series that began in the mid-1980s, will be available for $5 at the society or from any of the 12 businesses that sponsored a page, Getty said.

"We are giving the calendar to all of our (society) members," he said. "We covered our publishing costs from local businesses, each sponsoring a month."

Of the musical traditions in Carroll, community bands were among the strongest. Each small area had its own group to play at church socials, town parades and summer concerts, Getty said.

"All communities had the tradition of the community band that would play for dancing as well as for concerts," he said. "Even the smaller ones, like Frizzellburg or Pleasant Valley or Warfieldsburg, had them. It wasn't just the large incorporated towns."

Only three bands from that tradition remain inCarroll, Getty said.

The Westminster Municipal Band, which is supported by the city government, still marches in parades and plays concerts, as does the Alesia Band. The third, the William F. Myers & Sons Marching Band, was sponsored by the now-defunct meat-packing plant in Westminster.

Although it started as an employee activity that provided free advertising, the group was eventually opened to the community.

"The Myers family was very musical, so they started it as sort of a community improvement project," Getty said.

Informal community bands that sprang up during the holidays also were popular. Young men and boys in the community simply would grab their instruments and parade up and down the streets for Christmas or St. Patrick's Day, Getty said.

"An informal band would masquerade or go 'Kris Kringling' up and down the streets at Christmas," he said. "They also would lead major events, like political campaigns. During torchlight parades, they would lead the way."

Musical community members also might join military bands, Getty said. For example, in 1916, the Westminster National Guard was called into service at the Mexican border and eventually became the 1st Maryland Infantry Band.

"Although it wasthe Maryland Infantry Band, it consisted of all Westminster musicians," he said.

Civic groups, such as the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, would sponsor drum and bugle corps for young musicians, Getty said.

"There is a strong tradition there where someone's father or grandfather had played in the band and they did too,"he said.

Finally, music has also been important in Carroll's religious organizations, Getty said. Aside from performing during church services, groups played music during camp meetings and other functions.

"There's a pretty wide range of music performed in churches," he said. "There is a strong gospel tradition, as well as folk masses and brass ensembles."

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