Band History: Week 7

For our July 22nd concert, we combined a couple of decades to get caught up after our very newsy first half century. Dr. Dan Barr also shared memories from a few of our long-time members.

Week 7, July 22, 2015
Written by Ruth Bures, read by Dan Barr

It was our intention to explore the band’s history by decades, but some decades had more interesting stories than others. For the first concert, there was enough action in the first five years to fill the segment. And goodness knows, there were some interesting stories to fill the next concerts. We even had to save the band shell story until last week to fit it in. So this week we will condense two decades of the band’s history, 1965 through 1984.

For the first 7 years, Harold Edstrom continued his successful band leading. But occasional problems did come up and in July of 1969 it was reported that thieves pried open the band shell storage room and took 3 cymbals valued at $120. A more serious challenge arose in September of 1972 when city manager Paul Schriever proposed dropping the municipal band to save $6,736. Thankfully, the council did not agree.

Joyce Gulbrandsen was asked to play flute in the band in 1966 when she was still in kindergarten – no, I guess it was high school! Joyce felt pleased and proud to be asked, but a little intimidated. Her high school director, Mr. Andrus sensed she was nervous and encouraged her to keep it up! And she did!!

The brown uniforms bought in 1949 (seen last week) were still in use. Harold especially wanted everyone to wear the correct uniform for parades but some of the pants had worn out and there weren’t enough for all players. If people weren’t able to march, they were asked to share uniforms. Joyce had to miss a parade, so she dutifully surrendered her pants. But she didn’t get them back. She asked Harold if he would request their return, which he did during a rehearsal. Fred Heyer then yelled out “Hey, who’s got Joyce’s pants?” Harold said under his breath to a mortified teenaged Joyce, “I was afraid that would happen.”

A group of players used the break between rehearsal and the concert to visit Shorty’s Bar and Café on the other side of the tracks to “loosen up” as they say. More about Shorty’s later.

Dr. Richard Lindner moved to Winona in 1967 to direct the Winona State College band. Growing up in Brillion WI, he enjoyed playing in the community band and was interested in playing in the Winona municipal band. He soon met Harold Edstrom and joined the trumpet section. In the early 1970’s Harold started coming to Dick’s college band concerts and shortly afterward asked Dick if he was interested in taking over the municipal band. Dick didn’t think too long before he said yes. The opportunity to conduct a wide variety of music was very appealing. When Harold announced his retirement in 1973, Dr. Lindner was named his successor.

Dick’s wife Jane played trumpet in the band until her health no longer allowed it. They met as music majors at Luther College. A marvelous musician, Jane also played piano, and organ. We always appreciated Jane’s presence in band, and Dick describes her as his partner and supporter in every way.

In August of 1973, the city approved $6000 for new uniforms, but received a bid of  $4,692 from a Texas firm. Such a deal! So the band began the 1974 season in new uniforms, blue with white trim that “reflects the historic riverboat theme of the city as does the shoulder patch bearing the design of a paddle wheel steamer”.  Sue Gilman is modeling her very own example of this version. Sue remembers marching “in the blue 45% wool uniforms with our coats fully buttoned and blue ties adorning our fully buttoned up shirts. We looked nice, but were really, really hot by the end of the parade.”

Sue began playing clarinet in the Municipal band in 1975 while playing in Dr. Lindner’s College band. She recalls feeling proud of the band and being amazed that the whole concert was rehearsed and prepared in an hour and a half.

Ann Wenzel remembers being asked to play in the Muni band in 1978 when she was teaching private lessons at Lindner Music. She says, “It truly was an honor and a duty I took seriously. I started playing alto saxophone with the band, and I never knew until the concert day if I was on clarinet OR Sax.”

Sue and Ann recall one very hot evening when they actually moved the rehearsal to the opposite side of the band shell before the playground was built. According to Ann    “Dick asked us all to carry our stands and chairs to the back side of the band shell, so we could rehearse in the shade. We would NEVER think of canceling!!!  What was wrong with us???”

Ken Bloom felt proud and honored when he was asked joined the band’s trombone section in 1977. Ken became one of the Shorty’s break group and recalls that the breaks seemed longer when he first joined, with the rehearsals ending around 7:00. “By 7:10 some of us in the band were at Shorty’s bar ordering our first beer (remember: Winona can be a hot place in the summer!). I wanted the trombone section to be well represented so I was probably the first there and last to leave. But, I don’t remember ever having a late start because of these breaks. Over a few years, Ken noticed that rehearsals lasted longer, and they sometimes went past 7:30. Whether this was a deliberate move on Dr. Lindner’s part to ensure his players could play, he doesn’t know!

Ken remarked that band members were incredibly devoted to marching in the parades. Some, like him, even made a quick change of clothes when the municipal band finished the parade route, returned to the start and went through with another group. “It was amusing watching the expressions of the parade goers when they saw us appear for the second time.”

Ken eloquently stated: “after having played in many musical groups. I am most proud of my involvement with this one.  From the capable hands at the podium and the dedication and talent of the musicians under the baton, to the undying support of the city fathers, as well as the huge fan base each and every Wednesday evening, I couldn’t have made a better decision than to join the Winona Municipal Band 39 years ago.” And we couldn’t agree more!

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Background photo courtesy of Joy Davis Ripley

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