Musicians Wanted! Southeastern Massachusetts Community Concert Band Starts New Season
By Jane Lebak
Miss making music? Dust off that old trumpet or flute and come make music and friendships with the Southern Massachusetts Community Concert Band, now seeking new members.
A fixture of the local music scene is reaching out to potential new members as it launches the 2023 season.
John Crowley says, “We are the Southeastern Massachusetts Community Concert Band. Since 1976, we’ve been very active, performing eight to ten concerts a year.”
In 2022, the SMCCB performed in Ashland, Medway, Franklin, Wrentham, Hopkinton, Bellingham, Millis, and Attleboro.
The band consists of woodwinds, reeds, brass, and percussion instruments.
“We’re all local musicians from the surrounding towns,” says Crowley, a percussionist. “Our members range in age from people in their twenties to people in their eighties. We have people who played in high school or college and then put the instrument away, and we have people on the other end who have been professional music educators for their career.” Laura Logan plays tenor sax, and her husband Mitchell Schwartz plays trombone. She joined the band in 1990. Logan says, “This band is a wonderful, comfortable, safe, and welcoming place for musicians to come together to create music. I’ll play there until I can’t play anymore.”
The band plays a wide variety of music. “Big band music, show tunes, patriotic music, a lot of popular music, even soundtracks from movies,” says Crowley. “Every concert in the summer starts with The Star Spangled Banner and ends with The Stars and Stripes.”
As a testimony to how much fun and community the band members have with one another, some of the band’s founding members are still participating. “It’s an enthusiastic group,” Crowley says. “We have members who’ve been in it from day one.”
Their conductor for the past ten years is Bruce Houston, who has directed bands in the Massachusetts public schools for the past thirty-five years. He plays trombone professionally himself and holds degrees from Syracuse University, Harvard University, and Southern Oregon University.
Crowley says of Houston’s conducting, “Every rehearsal, it’s like two hours of instruction. He’s familiar with everything.”
The band members are all volunteers. Crowley says, “We do it for the love of music.” Moreover, all the concerts are free to the public. “We’re hired a lot by the towns to play in their summer concert series. We play in the gazebos and town squares, and we also do a fair amount of playing in senior centers.” This past December, the band gave three holiday concerts.
Band member Julie Samia has been playing flute and piccolo with the SMCCB since 1988. Samia says, “The SMCCB is special to me, because it is a place where every musician is accepted regardless of musical ability. There is no anxiety-inducing audition process, and we don’t deny anyone based on full sections. Members have a commitment to provide live, free, good-quality, wholesome entertainment at a time when so little of that exists anymore.”
Crowley encourages anyone who has a clarinet (or a trumpet, or a saxophone, or a flute…) aging in the closet to consider dusting it off and reviving their musical skills. “I don’t want anyone to shy away from it just because they haven’t played in twenty years. The bulk of us are people who played long ago and then decided they want to get back to it.”
Anyone on the fence about joining can call ahead and attend a rehearsal as a test run.
Crowley says, “I love music. I think our audiences appreciate hearing a large repertoire of familiar tunes. They’re out there, stomping their feet, and everybody knows the tunes. It’s a shared experience for us performing it and for the people listening to it.”
Logan adds, “You can tell that people really enjoy live music. At one concert last summer, I noticed a lot of chair dancing. I’m also the announcer, so when I got up to announce the next piece, I said—clearly and dramatically—‘The dance floor is open.’ And that’s all it took. Two women came up to dance. They didn’t even know each other. They started dancing, which encouraged other people to let loose and come up and dance. At the end of the concert, they’d made new friends. Music does wonderful things.”
Rehearsals take place on Monday nights at the Medway Community Church. For more information about performances or joining the band, call (508) 877-0635 or visit their website at https://smcws.org.