An illustrated program by Frank Heath on “Town Bands of the 1860s to 1920s” will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday at the Jasper County Historical Museum.
Frank Heath is a board member of the Grinnell Historical Society and member of the Prairie Jewel Dixieland Band. He has visited libraries, museums and newspaper morgues throughout Iowa in search of material for hisprogram.
“The community band, or Cornet Band, played a vital role in Iowa history with fascinating instruments, expensive uniforms, marvelous mustaches, andambitious programs of classical music," Heath said. "Concerts, parades, picnics, weddings, serenades, fairs, land sales, slaughterhouse openings, skating rinks, reunions, lodge gathers, fire department tournaments, all needed cornet bands often with elaborate band wagons. If a town had no band, it had no self-respect. The role of the town band wasn’t always easy."
According to Heath, one newspaper of the time period said that “No man can learn to play cornet and teach Christianity in the same neighborhood.”
“From what I can tell, the cornet was as important as the ear of corn; in fact, one man traded a wagon load of corn for a cornet," he said. "He probably knew that the first cornet player ‘got all the girls’."
The event isfree and the public is invited to attend. A short quarterly meeting of the Jasper County Historical Society will precede the program.