The Cameron Municipal Band is celebrating 150 years of Musical Excellence in 2016.

The Cameron Municipal Band performs every Thursday from the first Thursday in June to the first Thursday in August.  Concerts are held at 8:00 p.m. at the Thomas J. Price Memorial Band Pavilion in McCorkle Park at the corner of Chestnut and 4th Streets. The Cameron Historical Society sells ice cream, cake, and soft drinks.  Come join us for a magical, musical evening. Admission is free and it is recommended that you bring a chair.

Additionally, the band will be playing for the July 4th Veterans Memorial Service, the July 4th Parade, and we have added a holiday concert, which in 2016, while be December 18.


The History of the Cameron Municipal Band

The band was first organized in 1866 as the Cameron Silver Cornet Band with George Bissell as its director.  Charter members included George Stokes, W. D. Corn, M. McPhetridge, Everett Ford, Dr. J. F. King, M. L. Helwig, Mr. Gibhart, George Shirts, John Britain, H. E. Ford, Dr. D. B. Adams, H. Powers, Erstine King, and Rus Bing with E. F. Darby, as drum major.  He served through 1884. The band’s first engagement was in Mirable, MO; they received $125.

In 1884, D irector Bissell was succeeded by W. E. Steck who served for ten years and introduced military drill to the performances.  The name was changed to the Cameron Military Band.  The drum major, E. F. Darby, was replaced in 1885 by Jake Stoner who led the band in their marching maneuvers in a uniform presented to him by John Philip Sousa.

With their outstanding precision drills and musical excellence, the band took part in many competitions.  In 1883 they won first place at the Kansas State Soldiers reunion in Leavenworth, KS.  In 1884 the band traveled well over 2,000 miles via rail, stage, and steamboat.  That year they escorted the Joe Hooker Post G. A. R. to the National Encampment in Minneapolis.  In competition with 80 other bands, the Cameron Military Band “carried off all the honors.”  In the reviewing stand was Gen. W. T. Sherman who  remarked that he had never seen a drill team with more precision while at the same time furnishing their own music.  In q1888 the band traveled to the Republican Convention in Chicago and to the Triennial Conclave for the Masonic organization in Washington, D.C.

C. L. Rutherford directed the band from 1896 to 1899 and, again, from 1901 to 1906.  During his tenure he organized a “Kid Band” which became well known in Chicago and Kansas City.  This band, while in Kansas City, joined with other bands to play in a massed concert under the baton of John Philip Sousa.  Craig Sloan, being the only drum major present was given the honor of leading the bands on parade.

In 1922 the band was reorganized under the direction of W. E. Tracy whose wife, Mrs. Jessie Tracy, became the band’s first female member.  The band’s new name was the Cameron Community Concert Band.  They met their expenses through donations from local merchants and by holding benefit concerts and hiring out to area towns.  In 1927 the young ensemble became the Rotary Boys Band and for the next 25 years Cameron had two concerts each week: the Boys Band on Saturday and the Concert Band on Thursday.  In 1929 the State of Missouri enacted the Band Fund Tax Statute, which allowed towns to tax themselves for the purpose of providing free band concerts.  The people of Cameron voted that same year to impose a band tax.  The bands, in accordance with the new law, became the Cameron Municipal Band and the Cameron Junior Municipal Band.  The Junior Band was disbanded in 1955.

For many years William Tracy directed the Municipal band, as well as the high school band during the war years.  Mr. Tracy had been a member of the Karl King (Barnum and Bailey) Circus Band, in his early years.  Mr. Tracy was succeeded by two other directors, and a third high school band and vocal teacher names Vance Riffie.  Mr. Riffie started the band on its road to excellence during the years from 1946 through 1950.

In a 1934 Kansas City Star editorial, clarinetist D. K. Harper was praised for community service in playing for 58 consecutive years in Cameron’s bands, from 1876 to 1934.  Mr. Harper, a former buffalo hunter and member of the famous Patrick S. Gilmore Band, continued playing into his 60th season.  Other musicians who have logged 50 or more years with Cameron’s bands are Bernard Althouse, Dordie Bowen (grandson of D. K. Harper), Albert Hamlet,  George O. Harris, and Thomas J. Price.

Thomas J. Price took over leadership of the band in 1962 and continued as its director through the summer of 1986.  Mr. Price built the ensemble into a group noted throughout Missouri for the high quality of its performances, an attribute that continues to this day.  In the summer of ’87 the band was directed by Joe Finnegan.  Ann Goodwin took over in the summer of 1988 and Shawn Abel was conductor from 1989 to 1992.  Dr. Michael Mathews was the leader of the band from 1993 to 2012 also adding numerous of his own arrangements to the band library.  Ann Goodwin Clark has returned to take the podium starting with the 2013 season.  Ann has enjoyed a twenty-five year career as a music educator and clinician. For six years, she has focused primarily on motherhood following tenures with highly active, successful band programs in Missouri. At Gallatin (1987) Nevada (1997) and Park Hill High Schools (2002) the Symphonic Band under her direction performed for the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference. She received her BME at the University of Kansas and her MM (Band Conducting) at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.  Ann is now the Director of Bands for Cameron High school.

In recent years the band has performed twice for the annual convention of the Missouri Bandmasters Association, receiving high accolades each time.  The Cameron Municipal Band has been invited to play at the 2016 Missouri Bandmasters Association and will be premiering a march that has been commissioned for the band, specifically to celebrate the 150 years of bands in Cameron, MO.  The march is being written by Andrew Glover and will also b played for the anniversary concert on June 30, 2016.

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