Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Music in Maynard

Music has been an essential part of Maynard before Maynard was Maynard. The town's inaugural parade featured the Eagle Cornet Band of Iola Lodge and the Amateur Brass Band. The Maynard Brass Band came into being in 1875, reorganized in 1884 as the Maynard Military Band. The Finnish Imatra Band formed in 1898, the Finnish National Band in 1910. Various fife and drum corps, choral groups and glee clubs also entertained Maynard during the first half of the twentieth century.

1914 Postcard of Main Street, Maynard, looking east. Bandstand at right.
Electric trolley (tracks, center) operated until 1921.
In 1904, Abel Haynes donated a bandstand to the Maynard Military Band. It stood at the corner of Walnut and Main Streets and was illuminated by electric lights – electricity courtesy of the woolen mill. Concerts were Wednesday evenings, June through Labor Day. Hundreds of people would stand (or sit, if they brought chairs) to listen to the music. This was not as traffic-disruptive as one might think, as there were fewer than a dozen cars in all of Maynard. However, the crowd did have to make way periodically for the electric trolley. Sadly, a feud erupted over which bands would use the bandstand. While MMB claimed it ‘owned’ the bandstand, it stood on town property. The town called for sharing. The bandstand was moved on June 4, 1915, to a yard on Acton Street until the dispute was resolved. It never returned. A fieldstone bandstand was constructed in Crowe Park in 1939, torn down in the 1990s.

The Maynard school system offers many opportunities for the musically inclined. The Concert Band, Pep/Marching band and Concert Chorus are credit-earning courses, while the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Honors Chorus and A Capella Choir are non-credit electives. The school functions are supported in part by the Maynard Music Association.

In addition to Maynard’s own bands, choruses and glee clubs, innumerable were the times that organizations in town brought in dance orchestras for dances. The Historical Society has in its collection posters for dance marathons, masked balls, and even “Battle of Music” events, at which two bands would play, and attendees would vote for the best.

At times, there were problems. November 14, 1913, the weekly local newspaper The Maynard News carried this item: “At the Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday evening, it was decided that the objectional dances which have been indulged in in the dance halls in this village must be stopped. All parties holding dances in the future will be notified that these objectionable and so-called animal dances are prohibited and must not be permitted in any dance hall in this municipality… in this action for a cleaner and better Maynard.”

The “Animal Dance” craze was directly related to the popularity of ragtime music, derived from African-American traditions, with a syncopated beat. Maynard was not alone in prohibiting provocative dances. In 1912, New York City placed the Grizzly Bear under a "social ban", along with other "huggly-wiggly dances" like the Bunny Hug, Turkey Trot, Texas Tommy and the Boston Dip.

Worth a mention: Once upon a time, gods and demigods of rock and roll walked the streets of Maynard. It was the 70s. Aerosmith, The Talking Heads, The Cars, Tommy Bolin Band, Johnny Barnes, Thundertrain... all recorded at The Great Northern Studio aka Northern Studio, Northern Recording Studio, Northern Sound or Northern Lights Recording Studio, upstairs at 63 Main Street. The studio was started by Peter Casperson and Bob Runstein, both out of Boston. Life at the studio must have been interesting. This from a forum post: "The first time I ever saw a 'beer machine' [soda machine stocked with cans of beer] was at Northern Sound in Maynard…I thought it was the coolest thing in the world!!!"

Maynard Community Band, 1918. Courtesy of  Jonathan Daisy.
Present day, the Maynard Community Band performs in Memorial Park. The band – all volunteer – was started in 1947. It was brought together when Louis Koski, an immigrant from Finland, a professional conductor and composer, invited musicians from the existing Maynard Military, Imatra and National Bands to become one band. In time, Koski turned over the reins to Ilmari Junno, in turn to Alexander DeGrappo, and then in 2003 to Michael Karpeichik. Musicians from surrounding towns are welcomed. The band plays a wide variety of band literature, focusing on quality concert music, standard band repertoire and modern compositions. A “Star Wars” medley is always a crowd pleaser. Performances include 10-12 annual outdoor summer concerts as well as spring and fall performances ending a Holiday Christmas concert at The Sanctuary in mid-December.


  1. Geez wonder what the "Boston Dip" was.

  2. the "Boston" was an Americanized slow waltz. A variant, the "Boston Dip," was just a dipping variation in the Boston, done by a huge step that would make the knees bend or "Dip" the body down and and was danced with the partners holding their hands on each others hips. Oh, the scandal! All of these "animal" dances involved some form of close body contact.

  3. Were these dances ever "unbanned" or is the ban technically still on the books albeit not enforced?

  4. I suppose one would have to go thru Town Annual Reports and see what showed up for a vote. A god article about banning 'animal' dances is at