Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Music in Maynard - The Band(s) Played On

On July 22, at 7:00 p.m., the Maynard Public Library will present a Zoomed talk titled: “And the Band(s) Played On.” Register at https://www.maynardpubliclibrary.org/may150. This is the sixth in a monthly series of history lectures produced by the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee as part of Maynard’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of its creation on April 19, 1871. The August talk will be “Thoreau Walked Thru.” A new history book “MAYNARD MASSACHUSETTS: A Brief History”, is for sale for $21.99 at 6 Bridges Gallery, 77 Main Street, WED-SAT, 12-5.  

Maynard Fife, Drum and Bugle Corp, 1898
in Boston to honor soldiers returning from
Spanish-American War. Click to enlarge.
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 Brass Band. The Finnish Imatra Band formed in 1898, the Finnish National Band in 1910. Waino Kauppi (1898-1932), a child prodigy on the cornet, with the Imatra Band, went on to be a featured and recorded soloist with the Goldman Band and Edwin J. McEnelly's Orchestra. Various fife and drum corps, choral groups and glee clubs also entertained Maynard during the first half of the twentieth century.

Waino Kauppi, 
cornet player

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 in the streets (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 Main Street trolley. Sadly, a feud erupted over which bands could use the bandstand. While MMB claimed it ‘owned’ the bandstand, it stood on town property. The town called for sharing. Until the dispute could be resolved, the bandstand was moved on June 4, 1915, to a yard on Acton Street. It never returned. A fieldstone bandstand was constructed in Crowe Park in 1939, torn down in the 1990s. Music performances are now held in Memorial Park.

Dance card, International Order of 
Odd Fellows (IOOF). 1892
A fascinating part of Maynard’s musical history is a collection of dance cards in the archives of the Maynard Historical Society. Dance cards were popular at dances held in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Dance organizers would print have printed small pamphlets to describe a dance event, the performing band, the program, etc. These would include a list of 16-24 dances. Single women attending the dance would have these dance cards, with a small pencil attached, so that men could approach them and ask to be scheduled for specific dances. From this practice, we still have the sayings “My dance card is full” and “I’ll pencil you in.”  

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. The Music Hall, better known at “The Rink” (1885-1912; destroyed by fire), was a dance venue that also hosted roller skating, basketball games, etc. The site became Tutto’s Bowling Alleys, later home to a catering business, now a marijuana store.

Sheet music for
THE BUNNY HUG
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, Texas Tommy and the Boston Dip.

The Maynard school system offered and 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.

Cap'n Swing, with a few member changes, 
became The Cars, also recorded in Maynard.
Worth a mention: Once upon a time, gods and demigods of rock and roll walked the streets of Maynard. It was the 1970s. Aerosmith, The Talking Heads, Cap’n Swing, 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!!!"

Also worth a mention: Verne Q Powell started Powell Flutes in Boston, in 1927. The company, still by his name although he sold it in 1961, moved to mill building #1, Maynard, in 1999, where it continues to make high-end flutes. The company was purchased by Buffet Crampton, a France-based multi-national company, in 2016, but the brand and manufacture in Maynard, continue. In 2011, Massachusetts-resident astronaut Catherine ‘Cady’ Coleman brought her silver Powell flute with her for a stint in the International Space Station. YouTube has a video of her playing a duet with Ian Anderson, of the band Jethro Tull. (He was on Earth.)  

Maynard Community Band, 2019
Present day, the Maynard Community Concert 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 or defunct 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. Before the COVID pandemic, performances include 10-12 annual outdoor summer concerts as well as spring and fall performances ending with a Holiday Christmas concert at The Sanctuary in mid-December. The 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID pandemic. In 2021, MCCB intends to resume rehearsals in September, and hopes to be able to offer a holiday Christmas concert in December.

 This is the sixth of eleven monthly Zoomed talks that Mark is giving as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration.

 

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