Musical milestone: Hollis Town Band notes 75th anniversary

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON A trio of tubas accents a rendition of a patriotic tune performed here during a recent practice of the Hollis Town Band by accomplished musicians, from left, Eric Abis, of Amherst, Elizabeth Hartnett, of Hollis, and Jim Frens, of Merrimack.

The year 1943 saw New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio enlist in the Army, as Hitler tried to edge the world closer to spontaneous combustion. Franklin Roosevelt flew from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill and thus became the first president to travel by airplane. The rationing of metals including brass to make shell casings was underway. Musical instrument production slowed to a trickle.

Nevertheless, in 1943 in the small town of Hollis, people rounded up a variety of instruments to put into the hands of youngsters intent on starting a band.

Today, the Hollis Town Band is into its 75th year. It grew from roots as the Hollis Congregational Church School Band and, currently, around 80 musicians are members. More are welcome.

Music lovers everywhere are invited to attend the 75th anniversary celebration at the upcoming annual Hollis Town Band Pops Concert, an event scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Sunday, April 8, at Alpine Grove banquet facility, 19 South Depot Road in Hollis. Tickets must be purchased by March 28.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON David Bailey, director of the Hollis Town Band, displays a vintage band leader’s coat of blue fabric embellished with gold accents that is reminiscent of band apparel of the earlier days of the band, a musical group whose roots go back 75 years to its founding as the Hollis Congregational Church School Band.

Nashua’s David Bailey, band director since 1985, is the professional instrumental music instructor and respected instrument repair craftsman who leads the musicians throughout the season.

“It’s a great honor to be allowed to conduct the Hollis Town Band,” said Bailey. “It’s rich tradition and history make it the epitome of what ‘community music’ is all about.”

Bailey added that not everyone who learns an instrument or starts singing in school will go on to become a professional musician but the “love of making music” stays with them. He said that making music is something anyone can do throughout their life.

Bailey noted that the concert will feature classical tunes, Broadway hits and pop favorites. Some popular jazz offerings are anticipated. Wednesday evening practices are sharpening even the flats among the musicians.

“I was fortunate to have played under band directors for whom entertaining the audience was paramount,” Bailey said. “I’ve tried to make sure to program something for everyone in the audience.”

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Director David Bailey, leader of the Hollis Town Band since 1985, conducts a medley of favorite tunes from the Big Band era at a concert presented during last year’s assembly at the Hollis Strawberry Festival.

He credited the band members as musicians who could have become professionals. He said some chose different career paths but their high level of musicianship is well showcased at the band’s performances throughout the year. A full schedule can be found online:

hollistownband.org.

The spectators will support the band’s routine expenses for music sheets that keep members on the same page. Funds also support the

Schellenberg-Twichell-Jeynes Memorial Scholarship for band members pursuing college educations or attending music camps. The fund was established in honor of longtime supporters and members of the band.

An additional attraction of the day will be a performance by the Hollis Clarinet Choir. Members of the Hollis Town Band comprise the choir and while some play different instruments en masse, they enjoy presenting the clarinet showcase of soprano, alto and bass selections.

The concert is sure to satisfy anyone’s craving for good music. In addition, a dessert buffet of goodies should go far to satisfy even the most discriminating sweet tooth.

“The Hollis Town Band Pops Concert is a long-standing tradition,” said Bailey. “Great music, great company and great food – a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!”