County band forms; all musicians welcome
By By BRIAN BLACKLEY
The Greater Escambia Council for the arts is hoping to get rusty musicians to dust off their instruments and participate in a community band that would play throughout Escambia County.
According to Jerry Gehman, one of the organizers of the community band project, anyone who knows how to wield a band instrument and who is at least 16 years of age is invited to participate.
"We'd love to get a good group together that could play two concerts a year, at least," he said. "This is something that could have such a tremendously positive impact on our community."
Curtis Harris, former band director at Escambia County High School, a renowned musician who has played with such greats as Nat King Cole, will direct the community band.
"This is something he is doing for us," Gehman said. "It's extremely exciting to know that a person with his talent and ability will be working with us."
Gehman said primary instruments being sought are band instruments including horns, reeds and percussion.
"We are looking for a good mix of instruments," Gehman said. "We want people who know trumpet, trombone, tuba, saxophone, clarinet, oboe, French horn, flute, drums in all categories, cymbals and others."
Gehman said that the goal is not to recruit players who have highly-tuned skills and who play regularly.
"We want everyone who knows an instrument to participate, rusty or not," he said. "We aren't going to teach people to play instruments, but people who haven't played in a long time and who are rusty are welcome."
And while practice will be held in Atmore at Escambia County Middle School's Band Hall, people from throughout Escambia County are invited to participate.
"This is sponsored by the Greater Escambia Council for the Arts," Gehman said. "This isn't an Atmore thing. We want participation from Brewton, Flomaton, and other communities in and outside of Escambia County. We are open to anyone who is 16 and who knows how to play an instrument on some level."
What is required for interested participants is that they attend the first meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, at Escambia County Middle School with their instruments and $25 in tow.
"We are requiring a cash investment to ensure that the person is serious about his or her commitment and to assist us in purchasing music that we will use for our programs," Gehman said. "We also take donations from other interested parties who do not plan to participate."
The first meeting, Gehman said, will be a time for people to register, meet others, plan what will be done and to participate in playing music.
"It will last from 7 to 9," Gehman said. "And the whole idea behind a community band is community participation, which we really need to make this idea become a reality."
Gehman said that the potential for the band is limitless.
"If members take it seriously we can have a terrific band," he said.
To find out more about being part of the Greater Escambia Council for the Arts community band, call Gehman at 368-8438.
"Or show up with your money and your instruments on Nov. 8," Gehman said. "I think we can really accomplish some fantastic goals and enrich the community in the process."