Sunday evenings in August at Veterans Memorial Park will be highlighted by the annual return of the Poultney-Granville Town Band.
Taking place on the bandstand starting Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m., 35 to 40 band members will grace the stage and perform an eclectic mix of polka marches from yesteryear as well as popular show tunes and modern contemporary music that will cater to community members of all ages.
Audience members may recognize particular musicians that are interchanged with the Washington County Band based in Salem.
Band manager and trumpet player for 40 years Rusty Westcott said the addition of the newer music in recent years has garnered a popular reaction from crowds in Poultney in July and Granville in August.
“It has been good. Folks are hearing songs from the last two decades, songs they recognize from films and shows,” Wescott said. “They seem to enjoy the transition.”
Wescott touched on the credentials to be qualified to join the regional band, stating a member must commit to the Sunday evening summer schedule, participate in the winter concert near Christmastime and be proficient with their chosen instrument.
For newer audience members, expect to see a vast array of instruments from classic brass horns to drums and woodwinds.
Oftentimes, as was the case for Wescott with Larry Russo, experienced adult musicians will give pointers to the younger generation who are passionate to perform on stage.
“One of the great things about the group… it gives the kids who are in school a desire to play,” Wescott said. “We tell them ‘we don’t expect you to play perfect or to play every note on the page, but you will get better.’”
The last five-plus years have been led by conductor Joe Szabo, who told NYVTmedia his goal each and every time he guides the band through a performance.
“My role is to conduct, obviously, but to pick the music. And as a retired educator, basically what I try to do is have the audience have a good time and want to come back,” Szabo said.
The desire for the Poultney-Granville Town Band to return every Sunday in August is truly evident in the village of Granville.
Village clerk Rick Roberts organizes the Summer Concert Series via grant funding through the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council (LARAC) and donations from various local groups and businesses. Roberts said in his 18 years working for the village, the band has performed in the summertime for that tenure.
“I think it’s a really nice mix of the two communities,” Roberts said. “It rounds out the concert series nicely. A lot of families come to these events and attracts a nice crowd on a Sunday.”
“We’re always pleased that the two municipalities want to renew our contract every year,” Wescott said.
Szabo and Wescott touched on the versatility of the band members being able to be plugged into different roles when needed and the audience they typically perform in front of.
“We play in front of a lot of our familiar faces which is great, but because we play in the summer, we also play in front of our summer vacationers,” Szabo said.
“We have a tremendous amount of musicians as far south as Bennington and as far north as Orwell (in Vermont) and equally as far east and west,” Wescott said.
Wescott added that the band is always searching for new members who have lit the passionate fire for performing music once again and encourages interested individuals to contact him at 802-287-5185.
“I think groups like ours are going to be important for teachers in local schools to show (students) they can still have fun and make music while school isn’t in session,” Wescott said.