PLATTSBURGH — Linda Sullivan has gone the distance with The Strawhatters Concert Band.
“I guess I started as a kid in high school,” the Plattsburgh resident said.
“I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun. It was an opportunity to play. and taught at Plattsburgh High School for 33 years.
ORIGINS OF THE GROUP
The Rouses Point Community Band began under the leadership of Wally Crist, a former Army Band musician.
In 1945 he was among 20 musicians who approached Rouses Point American Legion Post #912 for sponsorship.
“Our current setup, we have about 50 active musicians,” said Rebecca Shuman, chair of the board.
“We rehearse in Chazy Central School District from mid-May to late June. In June, July, August and a little in September, we perform in the region. We participate in a number of parades – Fourth of July, Plattsburgh, Rouses Point, Battle of Plattsburgh and Peru Applefest. We have a number of community shows.
Upcoming performances include the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute on July 27, the Clinton County Fair on July 30, Saranac United Methodist Church on August 17, St. Alexander Church on August 24, the Battle of Plattsburgh Parade on September 10 and Peru. Applefest on September 17.
‘A FAMILY THING’
Strawhatters members include all levels, from college kids to professional musicians.
“It’s the community members,” Shuman said.
“We have a number of people who come from Canada. We have people who are retired teachers, retired musicians. We have a number of people who may have played when they were in high school who are just coming back to the instrument after many years away. This year we have a number of husband/wife combinations and also parent/child combinations. It’s one of the few sets that anyone with some talent can play in. It becomes a family affair.
Past band managers were Crist, Robert Marra, Elwin “Bud” Bentley, Linda Sullivan, Craig Russell and Penny Wiese.
“This year we’re led by Jeanette Woodruff, who is a recently retired music teacher with a ton of experience with ensembles,” Shuman said.
Sullivan led the band for nearly 20 years.
“I realized after Bud retired from Chazy,” she said.
“I quit and kind of walked away from that for a little while. and now I play with them when I can. I play saxophone and clarinet. I mainly played clarinet with the band , but if they need a saxophonist, I’ll play the saxophone. I also play percussion with the band, too, when necessary.
“What I really like about groups is that it’s an opportunity for multi-generational activity. People of all ages can enter and contribute equally and benefit equally.
This year, the Strawhatters will take part in their annual picnic at Point Au Roche State Park.
“It’s centrally located for everyone,” Shuman said.
“We have a board of directors that makes all the important decisions. Each year we look for a conductor and hope that it is someone we will have year after year. We set rehearsal start days and then one of our members acts as a booking agent and kind of contacts places that have had us before and arranges these gigs for us.
“All music lives in my basement. I have responsibility for the music at this stage. Then someone has all the percussion stuff at home. Another volunteer gets a trailer and a truck to drive for the parade. It really is team work. »
The Strawhatters give Kathy O’Connell an outlet for her music.
“I’m 73, so I’ve been here for a while,” the Cadyville resident said.
“For the past 20 years, I have been playing. We play a wide variety of popular music and marches and stuff like that. Things that people recognized. It’s just fun to play. I play the trombone. I still use the same paperclip I had when I was in high school so many years ago. It’s an organization where we have junior high school kids playing with us and then older kids like me. It really is a community group.