This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Old Band

04 March 2016

The Old Band
by James Whitcomb Riley {1849-1916}

It's mighty good to git back to the old town, shore,
Considerin' I've be'n away twenty year and more.
Sence I moved then to Kansas, of course I see a change,
A-comin' back, and notice things that's new to me and strange;
Especially at evening when yer new band-fellers meet,
In fancy uniforms and all, and play out on the street --
. . . What's come of old Bill Lindsey and the Saxhorn fellers -- say?
I want to hear the  old  band play.

What's come of Eastman, and Nat Snow? And where's War Barnett at?
And Nate and Bony Meek; Bill Hart; Tom Richa'son and that-
Air brother of him played the drum as twic't as big as Jim;
And old Hi Kerns, the carpenter -- say, what's become o' him?
I make no doubt yer new band now's a competenter band,
And plays their music more by note than what they play by hand,
And stylisher and grander tunes; but somehow -- anyway,
I want to hear the  old  band play.

Sich tunes as "John Brown's Body" and "Sweet Alice," don't you know;
And "The Camels is A-comin'," and "John Anderson, my Jo";
And a dozent others of 'em -- "Number Nine" and "Number 'Leven"
Was favo-rites that fairly made a feller dream o' Heaven.
And when the boys 'u'd saranade, I've laid so still in bed
I've even heerd the locus'-blossoms droppin' on the shed
When "Lilly Dale," er "Hazel Dell," had sobbed and died away --
. . . I want to hear the  old  band play.

Yer new band ma'by beats it, but the old band's what I said --
It allus 'peared to kind o' chord with somepin' in my head;
And, whilse I'm no musicianer, when my blame' eyes is jes'
Nigh drownded out, and Mem'ry squares her jaws and sort o' says
She won't ner never will fergit, I want to jes' turn in
And take and light right out o' here and git back West ag'in
And stay there, when I git there, where I never haf to say
I want to hear the  old  band play.


Don't you want to hear them play again too?

The names of these 15 musicians are lost,
and their time and place are unknown.
This postcard photograph of a brass band was likely
taken in the 1910 era
somewhere in the United States.
I think they could play any tune at the drop of a hat.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
always a fountain of old photograph stories.


Wendy said...

Love the voice of the narrator in this poem. It's a perfect pairing with your photo. All together, I wish I had a hat to drop.

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

And aren't they wearing a fine assortment of hats!! I can almost hear them......

Jofeath said...

Some wonderful words in that poem - love 'competenter', and John Brown's Body was always one of my favourite tunes.

Kristin said...

They do look as thought they could come alive and play us a tune.

La Nightingail said...

Always interesting & always fun. The pix are great, the poem devine!

Postcardy said...

James Whitcomb Riley always reminds me of my mother. I have an old book of poetry by him that my mother had as a child.

Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Great "musicianer"; love the poetry, yes where are they? One of my favourite american poets is P.L. Dunbar.

Alex Daw said...

Such a great photo ! Oh and the poem too of course. Splendid post - as always.

Nancy said...

I love how you can dissect a photograph, add words, put the photo back together, and help us step back in time. Thanks!

Little Nell said...

It’s good to focus on each band member and be reminded that they were musicians all. I take my hat off to them.


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