SIDNEY — There is nothing that says “small town Americana” more than the sounds of band music on the town square.
Picture ladies with parasols, men in straw hats, and bicycles build for two, all choreographed to the oomph-pah-pah of the tuba and the flag-waving joy of a Sousa march. The modern-day version of this scene will play out again in our own backyard when the Sidney Civic Band takes the stage for its annual summer concert series on the court square in downtown Sidney.
In 1977, Richard Reidel, Dick Pope, Frank Neville and Bill Ross Jr. established the current Sidney Civic Band, but the actual history of a town band in Sidney dates back to Civil War years. Before the days of movies and television, nearly every community had its own town band for entertainment. Among bands playing in Sidney between 1860 and 1900 were the Taylor Band, the Tappe Band, and the Klute Band. In the early 1900’s, there was the Sidney Kiwanis Band and another band led by Franklin Schaefer.
The modern era Sidney Civic Band was conducted by Frank Neville from 1977-2002 and Paul Workman from 2003-2007. Today the band is led by Phil Chilcote, who was a band member for 20 years before assuming the position of conductor.
Several weeks ago, Chilcote received an email from Debra Glett, asking about the dates for this year’s concerts. “I live now in the Cleveland area,” said Glett. “But I want to arrange to get off work early and drive down for one of the concerts.”
Glett was born and raised in Quincy and her family went often to Sidney for shopping. Her mother, Donna Cowhick Glett, had relatives in Sidney and she and Debra’s dad Richard Glett were married here. Grandfather Edward Cowhick worked for many years at the Wagner factory.
“I have great memories of visiting family in Sidney, going to the Tawawa Park swimming pool as a youngster, and as a teenager, going to the movie theater and bowling alley with my friends on weekends,” said Glett. “As a young child, a teenager, and now as an adult, a perpetual favorite place to eat has always been the Spot. Their old-fashioned cream pie is so great! We always liked their burgers and shakes too!”
Glett left the area to attend college at OSU where she played alto horn in the OSU marching band. After college, her job took her to several different states in the mid to late 1990’s but “always a loyal Buckeye,” she finally settled back in Ohio.
A few years ago, the Sidney Civic Band invited the Ohio State Alumni Band to do a joint concert. Glett was so excited to be part of this special event near her hometown.
“The Sidney Civic Band members were so welcoming and fun,” said Glett. “The crowd was enthusiastic and the weather was perfect; we had a great time.”
After that experience, Glett made it a point to attend at least one Sidney Civic Band concert each summer. She is usually accompanied by her sister Shelly and cousin Barb.
“We have a great evening, eating at the Spot, enjoying the concert, and then going to the Spot again after the concert to get pie for the family members who stayed at home,” said Glett.
Glett is already planning for her summer outing in Sidney and hopes that other family members will join in the fun this year, including her husband Jim.
“I think these concerts are grand events,” said Glett. “A slice of Americana that reminds me of days gone by when life was simpler. So refreshing. An evening outside on lawn chairs or blankets with people of all ages from little babies to senior citizens, communing to enjoy some really great entertainment. What could be better?”
The opening act for this summer’s schedule of concerts on the court square in downtown Sidney will be the Swing Era Band performing on Friday, June 15. The Swing Era Band was formed in 1975 by Bud Ledwith to perform music in the tradition of the “big bands” of the 1940’s. Many of the members are also in the Civic Band.
Following the opening jazz concert, the Civic Band will perform five Friday night concerts on June 22, June 29, July 6, July 13, and July 20. The concerts are free and the music begins at 7 p.m.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.