Schedule for the Vintage Band Festival

We’re so excited to b e a part of this year’s Vintage Band Festival in Northfield, MN on August 1-4. There are many fine bands performing. Check out our concerts on Friday, August 2nd.

2019 Season About to Begin

1st Nebraska’s 2019 performance season is about to begin! We start on Sunday, May 26, in Superior, Nebraska with a concert for the Superior Victorian Days festival. The band last played in Superior in 2017 and are returning by popular demand.

Superior has a very nice band shell in its City Park that also hosts a memorial to its fallen Civil War soldiers. The large park is shaded by mature trees, has convenient parking, and houses the city swimming pool. All in all, it’s a wonderful performance venue.

Our concert will begin at 2:00, and will include patriotic songs from the North and South, popular songs of the day by composers such as Stephen C. Foster, and even a piece from a well-known opera of the period. The program is narrated to inform the audience of the significance of the music and the roles the bands played during the Civil War.

The concert is free to the public thanks to the sponsorship of the Superior Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re in the South-central Nebraska area on Memorial weekend stop over and enjoy the concert!

New Tuba Provides Oomph to the Band

On Saturday, January 26, band leader Bill Hall and tubist Nate Griffith traveled to Des Moines to try out a restored bass/tuba for the 1st Nebraska Band. The owner, Steve Sprague, leader of the Liberty Band of Iowa, was selling the instrument because they had switched from upright bell horns to Over-the Shoulder horns. Steve had the instrument restored by Southeastern Musical Services in Huntsville, Alabama.


As Nate opened the sturdy case the beauty of the polished brass finish shined forth. Nate carefully picked up the tuba and began to play a series of high notes on the horn. They projected clear and beautiful. Next, valve compression was checked, and each slide popped when pulled out, meaning that a good vacuum was maintained because the valves were sealing the tubing. Nate finally settled into playing some notes in the normal playing range of the tuba, adjusted the length of the valve slides, and found good intonation throughout the chromatic series. Thoroughly satisfied, Nate presented Steve with a nice check for purchase of the instrument.

The tuba is an upright bell side action rotary valve E-flat Bass in polished brass manufctured under the Lyon & Healy name. Lyon & Healy produced brass instruments from 1864 until 1928, and sold them in their retail store in Chicago.

We can’t wait to see how the instrument sounds combined with the rest of the band. So looking forward to our February rehearsal. Thanks, Nate, for investsing in this beautiful horn.


1st Nebraska Receives Christmas Gift

On December 10th, band leader Bill Hall received a phone call from a fellow Civil War band enthusiast in Iowa asking if the 1st Nebraska had received enough donations in the recent Washington County Gives campaign to purchase a desired period alto horn. Bill sadly replied “No, we didn’t.” To which the friend asked if the band would like to receive a donation of a circa 1870 Ernst Seltmann top-action, rotary valved, upright bell alto horn that was not in current use. Well, Bill was more than elated, especially because December 10 is his birthday!

Ernst Seltmann immigrated to the United States in 1857, from Neukirchen, Germany. He settled in Philadelphia and began producing brass instruments by 1860, where he stayed in business until his death in 1883. Most of Seltmann’s upright bell horns follow the same pattern as the above alto.

The donated alto horn has a beautiful singing tone and is very agile, accurately making large skips. The instrument has been lovingly restored and is in excellent condition. Bill put the horn to immediate use in the band’s Dec. 22nd performance at The Durham Museum.

Below is a detail photo of the alto horn’s string action rotary valve mechanism. The top action levers are easily visible, and when depressed turn the valve by way of the string’s winding movement.

The shape of Seltmann’s maker’s mark stamped into the instrument’s bell indicates an approximate year of manufacture of around 1870.

The 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band now owns 4 period cornets, and a period alto horn, tenor horn, and baritone horn. In addition the band has a turn of the 20th century E-flat tuba, and a Civil War reproduction rope-tensioned snare drum. The band is 5 instruments short of a complete collection of period instrumentation.

Soon we’ll begin posting our 2019 performance schedule that will include participating in the 150th anniverary celebration of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Council Bluffs, Iowa in July.

Contact us if you’d like to have the band perform in your community.

1st Nebraska Worships with Immanuel Lutheran

If you’re in the Benson area on Sunday morning November 25th, come worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church (60th and Maple) with the 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band! We’ll be providing special music for the 8:15 and 10:15 services.

Our prelude is the Renaissance carol “Gaudete, Christus est natus” or Rejoice! Jesus is born. The refrain has an infectious rhythm and the verses have beautiful flowing melodies. The anthem will be “Angels We Have Heard On High” that features a short fugal section as well as the traditional cascading lines of “Gloria.” Gustav Holst’s carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” will be played as the offertory, and the postlude is Tchaikovsky’s well-known “Nutcracker March.”

You’ll notice that we’ve broken from our Civil War music mode. Brass players love Christmas music, so, we’re broadening our repertoire to have some musical fun during the holidays.

You can also hear the 1st Nebraska at the Durham Western Heritage Museum on Saturday, December 22nd, from 1:30 to 2:00 pm as we perform the above songs plus some other fine brass Christmas music.

Join us, won’t you!

Rainy Day at Ft. Atkinson

Sunday was the annual Washington County Heritage Days at Ft. Atkinson. If you live near Omaha you know it rained. That’s really a shame for this festival that’s trying to make its mark in Eastern Nebraska. The 1st Nebraska showed up to play as planned and discovered that there was no crowd, no vendors, and a bleak atmosphere.

In spite of the weather, the band played through its music for the organizers and staffers that had to brave the rain. Fortunately, we had a tent to play under, so that when it poured we remained dry.

Here are a few photos of the day taken by one of our tenor horn players, Jeff Ingraham. Jeff can be seen in the selfie. Another photo shows alto horn player Gary MIller talking with a re-enactor from Ft. Atkinson. Interesting mix of periods, Civil War and post War of 1812. Finally, you can also see the backside of our drummers, Bruce Chapman and Carl Highman. Bruce is playing our newly purchased rope tension snare drum.

Our outdoor season has concluded, but we hope to perform some Christmas music in the area in December. Keep watching for the announcements of time and place.