Stroll along the side of Centenary Hall on Cadell Street, Goolwa on a Tuesday night and the music of Van Morrison’s Moon dance, the sounds of Lady Marmalade, old Frankie’s tune Girl from Ipanema, and even a few Beatles notes flow off the stage floor.
Meanwhile, the thunder of percussion and brass and similar sweet notes can be heard from the Victor Harbor City Band practising in the Victor Harbor Community Centre, and the emerging Granite Community Band, the traditional Strathalbyn Concert Band and those representing the Victor Harbor, Encounter Lutheran and Investigator schools are strumming their stuff too.
It seems we are again alive with the sound of band music, and according to Maria Marsh, secretary of the Goolwa Concert Band, it is simply wonderful.
Each band is special in its own way; they don’t compete, and in fact promote each other purely for the love of music. It is very much a ‘brotherhood of bands’ in the spirit of the musicians and amazing township of Broken Hill, who in 1913 erected a 5.8 metre memorial honouring the eight poor souls across the other side of the world who played comforting music led by Wallace Hartley as the RMS Titanic sank in 1912.
Other bands across the Fleurieu Peninsula also vary in presentation, and the Victor Harbor City Band is a brass band so its music presentation differs to others that may add a string to their violin bow.
Maria said she did not play a musical instrument until picking up a guitar when in her 40s, and had never played a brass instrument or was a member of a band. She now plays the trombone for the Goolwa Concert Band.
“I am not really a very good musician, but the band has always been very welcoming to everyone,” Maria said with great modesty. “We are a community band, so people from the community are welcome and we play for the community.
“We don’t compete or necessarily want to be known as the best; it’s about people who love music getting together and providing entertainment, and I am proud to say we play for places like retirement villages, the local RSL, at fundraising events and special occasions like community carols, Anzac Day and Australia Day.
“We are different to most bands; we play a bit of Latin, pop, jazz… we’re not just a stage band or a show band. I guess you would call us a mix ’n match band, and unlike many we have a vocalist – Dawn Trickey, who is brilliant.
“We play music to cater for everyone’s taste, and we are extremely fortunate to have Leon Lambert, who is our wonderful leader and musical director, and our drummer Simon Hemmings, who does so well inspiring us and keeping everyone together.
“We’re a friendly group, but I think all bands are; it’s that special thing that goes with the love of music.
“We have a couple who come from Salisbury and play with us when they can. Obviously, we like people to come along who are very good – and we have some excellent musicians. We rehearse, practise at home and we try.
“We have 22 members, and while it is a great mix, I am the only trombone player – we really need another. An extra trumpeter would be good, plus a couple of more saxes.
“We get a lot of support from the Alexandrina Council, and tell people if they are walking past the side door at Centenary Hall on a Tuesday night from 7.30 they’re welcome to come in and just listen. It’s what we love to do; play music for people.”
The Victor Harbor City Band has 35 members, and secretary Ross Ford said generally his group did not have a problem keeping membership numbers up. “People tend to return or retire here, and many like to continue their music,” he said.
“There is no doubt the popularity of brass band or concert band music across the Fleurieu Peninsula has picked up again. We don’t get too many young ones, but the Granite Community Band does, which is just great.
“There are many things I love about being part of a band apart from obviously the music, including the fact there is not much politics and all of the bands have good fellowship. Some may have more music talent than others, but no one thinks about that; we are all in a band together.
“I enjoy going to band practice and when we perform. It’s a nice feeling to make some music and entertain.
“We have a brilliant bandmaster in Brenton Osborne, who really has band music right ascross the Fleurieu Peninsula at heart.”