Friday, March 31, 2017

Brass Bands in Kalamazoo

Branching off of the post I did earlier in the month about Brass Bands, I wanted to write a little bit about the history of Brass Bands in my hometown in Kalamazoo!

I originally stumbled upon the article while looking for photos of brass bands and found the one below. I noticed it had a drum with "Kalamazoo" printed on it which spurred my curiosity. The article I'm referencing was compiled by Keith Howard, a staff member for the Kalamazoo Public Library originally in 2010.

Here are some highlights from the article...

Kalamazoo's earliest brass band dated back to 1837 and was called the Village Brass Band. The founder of the band, John Everard, moved from New Jersey and soon put together the band which performed for celebratory occasions such as weddings and holidays.

For the remainder of the 1800's the band tradition grew and by the 1860's there were civilian bands in over 23 counties throughout southwest Michigan, Kalamazoo being one of the more popular.

The Bronson Family, who is highly regarded as one of the founding families of Kalamazoo, were very invested in the brass band tradition with a couple of the family members playing instruments and acting as bandleaders. C.Z. Bronson was a clarinetist, who know Patrick Gilmore and studied clarinet with a member of Gilmore's band. Today the Bronson family is mostly known because the city hospital, Bronson Hospital was funded by them.

Today the most notable Brass Band in the area is the Brass Band of Battle Creek.  This group was established about 25 years ago and has produced over 10 CD's since it's creation. The members currently include members Jens Lindeman, Chris Jaudes, Rich Kelly, Amy McCabe, Scott Thornburg, John Daniel, Lenny Foy, Steve Jones, Ken Bauman, Ed Zentera, Rex Richardson, Mark Armstrong, Phil Randell, Lisa Bontrager, Gail Robertson, Demondrae Thurman, Scott Hartman, Mark Frost, Steven Mead, Ben Pierce, Marty Erickson, Les Neish, Phil Sinder, David Zerkel, David Coash, John Beck, David Hardman, and Alison Shaw.

Here's a video of a crowd favorite, Carnival of Venice.

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