THE MONITOR DRILL BAND
Joe Williams: “In 1891 we organized a band of 10 men from Horicon [where Monitor Drill moved here from], which was later enlarged to 35. We went on many trips and usually played at the State Fair. In the early years we took the train from the Milwaukee Depot. We sponsored many Village activities. Our 4th of July celebrations were always a big affair and the entire Village took part. Everyone would bring their lunches and entertainment would be racing, catching greased pigs, climbing a greased pole with a purse on top was always a big drawing card. We usually would end up with a dance in one of the halls. We had one band stand or meeting place near the Monitor and this was taken down by one of the storms. We also played many times in the pavilion on the hill above the Monitor. This building was torn down by the Dan Patch [Railroad] construction. Later one stand was built in the park across from the old fire barn and this was also blown down. For several years we had no place to meet or practice and the band of the Village sort of went by the way.”
Monitor Drill Concert Band at the State Fair, September 9, 1913
Monitor Band, also from 1913
The Monitor Drill Concert Band, directed by C.J. Bradley, performed at the big Fourth of July celebration in 1914 – see Celebrations.
THE ST. LOUIS PARK VILLAGE BAND
The Minneapolis Journal reported that the St. Louis Park Band made its debut at the Memorial Day Parade on May 31, 1900. The band was led by cornet player Zeph Wood. They started out on the grounds of Monitor Drill, then built their own practice hall on Lake and Monitor (Republic Ave.). One report is that they practiced in the dining room of the Commers House Hotel, also known as the Blind Pig. Later they met at the Brick Block.
The band presented concerts every Friday evening at the bandstand in what is now Jorvig Park. They also played at the county fair and in parades in Minneapolis.
As early as 1902, and perhaps earlier, the Village Council supported the band by appropriating $100. The photo below is from 1903.
Members of the band in 1904 included Bud Haskell, John Dryer, Nels Neilson, Bert Williamson, Adolph Jensen, Harry Blackton, Carl Nelson, Zeph Wood, Charles Bradley, Bill Lewis, Henry Jensen, Frank Bradley, Oscar Nelson, Erick Liljenfors, Joe Williams, and Walt Moore. The family of Arvid Carlson, who played the cornet in the band, donated a glass-enclosed copy of the photo below to the Historical Society, and the cornet is still in the family!
On September 21, 1911, the Minneapolis Journal reported on the Village Harvest Festival and band carnival. See Celebrations
An oft-told story concerns a 4th of July engagement in Chanhassen. Ben Brown remembers, “The band caught the train in St. Louis Park and rode straight to Chanhassen. One member couldn’t make the train that morning, so he walked the railroad tracks all the way. He couldn’t locate the band, so he inquired as to where they might be. The people of Chanhassen wanted to know why he wanted to find the band, and once they found out he was a member, they ran him out of town without so much as an explanation. He soon learned that the band had arrived early, got drunk, and raised particular hell so they were all run out of town. And then this poor guy arrives late after walking from St. Louis Park and asks, ‘Where’s the St. Louis Park Band?'”
An article dated July 13, 1940 tells us that one Clyde Wolford proposed that a St. Louis Park Band be formed. His idea was to form a committee with representatives from the School Board, Village Council, Businessman’s Association and the Fire Department. The minutes of the August 7, 1940, meeting of the VFD say that Kurt Scheibe suggested that the VFD back a Village Band and Jake Werner suggested a meeting with the Village Council, School Board, American Legion, and Businessman’s Association.
In 1941 it is noted that St. Louis Park Municipal Band performed as part of the Miss St. Louis Park contest that year.
In 1955 it is noted that there was no City band.
There were a series of bandstands in a park variously called Central Park, Bandstand Park, and ultimately Jorvig Park. The first one was probably built around 1900, and was replaced prior to 1904.
The second one was destroyed in the 1904 cyclone and presumably replaced.
Another iteration of the bandstand was erected in 1911 with the help of $50 donated by the Village Council in June.
Another was built in July 1914 – its predecessor may have been destroyed in the deadly tornado that hit the previous May. This white wooden structure stood for 40 years until it was torn down in 1954.
In 1971 Bandstand Park was renamed Jorvig Park in honor of Torval Jorvig. He was a longtime trustee of the Village, a councilman for the City, and a strong voice on the planning commission. It was at this time that the Historic Depot, now owned by the City, was placed in Jorvig Park.
THE ST. LOUIS PARK COMMUNITY BAND
Many years went by with no band, but a community band movement was spreading throughout the suburbs, and in 1972, a new community concert band was formed, headed by Lorraine Brasket. She and other interested musicians put an ad in the community education newsletter, asking for volunteers. 16 people came to the first meeting and played for a month before they disbanded for the summer. Another effort was made, this time by calling people who were identified in old volumes of the Echowan as having been in High School band. The group hired Michael Holtz as conductor, paying him a small stipend with funds raised from the City and other fundraising efforts helped by the Lions Club, Boy Scouts, etc. They initially rehearsed at Susan Lindgren, then Central, and then the High School band room.
Ms. Brasket, who plays tenor sax, served as President for two years, drawing up bylaws, etc. and getting the group established. Jim Rhodes, who also plays sax, has been President ever since. In 2006 the band had over 50 members, and has had as many as 65. Over one third of the members have been with the band for 20 years or more, and there are three original members. Concerts are given year-round, and the group has played at Orchestral Hall several times. They also perform a Holiday concert at the High School.
Rhodes started a program called “Gift of Music” in 1991. This program provides donated musical instruments to students who might otherwise not be able to afford them. Over 400 such instruments have been refurbished and donated, along with lessons. The band strives to demonstrate to young people that music can be a life-long pursuit, not just ending in High School.
The St. Louis Park Community Band’s web site is www.slpband.org.