Sunday night was our last community band concert for the summer (the last one for our family anyway -- we can't go next week). Keith suggested this activity one Sunday evening back in June, and we've gone several times. Yeah, he has a good idea once in a while. :)
We frankly weren't expecting much from the Sioux City Municipal Band, but they've been consistently good every week. A variety of composers and styles: this past Sunday we heard (among others) a classical piece by Verdi, a Sousa march, a Duke Ellington medley, a Phantom of the Opera medley and that song you always hear at the circus (which is called "Entry of the Gladiators" -- who knew?). We even heard a Toto medley a couple weeks ago. Gave me flashbacks to Godspell rehearsals -- Scott and Mike trying to harmonize to "Africa" and and Lani's "Rosanna" ringtone.
They also always have a couple of sing-along songs. This week was "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover" and "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer". They're usually songs my kids have never heard of that I'm glad they're learning. Last time we sang a song called "Sioux City Sue". Good to get exposed to the local history and culture!
There's a guest soloist every week, playing a different band instrument (this past week -- the euphonium). And they sometimes have other musical groups there to contribute. This week, the Abu Bekr Shrine Chanters sang a couple songs (why they can't just call themselves a men's chorus, I don't know -- good work they do, but Shriners are an interesting breed).
A man named Dave Madsen, who is apparently a local TV personality or something, is the host -- which means he announces the songs and tells us a little about each piece (like the fact that there is a website out there with scads of different recordings of "Tico, Tico", including one by Donald Duck). He also sticks in a cheesy joke or two, including some Sven and Ole jokes, much to our delight.
The setting is gorgeous. Sioux City has this fabulous band shell that they recently renovated (every time I see it, I think Shakespeare in the Park -- somebody HAS to do that!). It's situated in a beautiful, spacious park on the northside. There are some benches, but most people bring lawn chairs or blankets and sit on the grassy slopes surrounding the shell. It's mostly older folks in attendance, but there are a lot of families, too. Kids run around playing while they listen. Some people bring their dogs. Just a neat atmosphere.
Even the girls seem to enjoy it. I wondered how much patience they would have with sitting through an hour-long (sometimes longer) concert of band music. I was pleasantly surprised.
This is the kind of thing I was excited to come back to the midwest for. Not that there aren't small-town outdoor band concerts somewhere in South Jersey probably, but I doubt they have the same feel. I so often wish I could bring some of my Jersey friends out here to live for a month, just so they get a feel for what the rest of the country is like.