Wessel’s Living History Farm

Well, it’s mid-July in Nebraska. That means heat and humidity, a wonderful combination for outdoors performances. Yes, I’m being sarcastic!

1st Nebraska played both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, first at Wessel’s Living History Farm and then for the John C. Fremont Days festival.


Wessel’s Farm is a 1920s era operation with a beautiful house and side buildings. There’s a collection of old farm machinery including several old tractors. Several times during the summer local historians demonstrate common farm skills for the public. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the farm is the old country style chapel that has been transplanted to the grounds. 

1st Nebraska setup under a tent, which got us and the audience out of the sun, and played our 2017 program. The audience was very enthusiastic, and several folks traveled to hear the band play. The host told us that we’re developing quite a reputation in Central Nebraska.


On Sunday, 1st Nebraska returned to the John C. Fremont Days, again playing in the chautauqua tent.

Our next performance in on August 20th at Ft. Omaha for the Douglas County Historical Society’s “Vintage Wheels at the Fort.”  

Hot Time on the 4th

1st Nebraska’s most recent performance was in Logan, IA for their Sesquicentennial. Thanks to retired band director Ragene Darling and his wife Mary for the invitation to perform for the good folk in Logan.

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It was a very humid and hot 90 degrees on Tuesday, as the band performed at 1:00. We were surrounded by cement, which reflected the heat AND our sound. It was so easy to hear each other in the amphitheater-styled band shell.

We added two special numbers to our program: “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair & Beautiful Dreamer” sung by cornetist and tenor James Lund. James has a gorgeous voice and gave Stephen Foster’s songs a great rendition.

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The second special number was the descriptive battle piece “Beauregard’s Retreat from Shiloh,” narrated by tenor horn player Dave Krecek. A descriptive battle piece relates the story of the battle accompanied by music. It’s sort of like the piano that accompanies silent movies. Both special numbers were conducted by Shelly Hall, who also did the concert narration.

This Saturday, July 8th, the band travels to Boone, IA for the Iowa Municipal Band Festival which will be held at Herman Park in the covered pavilion. Bring your folding chairs. Music starts at 11:00; 1st Nebraska plays at 4:00.

Fun in Superior

On Sunday, May 29, 1st Nebraska traveled from Omaha to Superior, NE, about 3 hours southwest of us and on the Nebraska-Kansas border. Superior is known as the Victorian Capital of Nebraska and the city has several restored Victorian era houses, or “painted ladies” as one of our members call them.

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Superior’s City Park was the site for our evening concert, and we played in the park’s very nice band shell. A good-sized crowd assembled, sitting in the shade with their lawn chairs. The crowd was very appreciative of our music and wanted more when we finished our last number. City Park is also the location of a memorial to soldiers from the area who fought in the Civil War. 1st Nebraska dedicated the playing of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to those soldiers and their monument.
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Twice 1st Nebraska made the front page of the Superior Express! The paper even reported that we have been asked back for 2018. We certainly look forward to a return to this very friendly community located in south-central Nebraska.

Next up for 1st Nebraska is a performance for the Stromsburg Swedish Festival on Saturday, June 17, at 7:30 pm in the City Park. We’ll also ride in the parade at 6:00. This is a great chance for those in the York area to hear the band play this year.

Kicking Off 2017

Happy New Year, Friends! Here’s hoping that 2017 is a wonderful year for us all.

1st Nebraska holds its first rehearsal of 2017 this Sunday at 2 pm. We’ll get a first crack at new songs for our program. We’re going to close with Home, Sweet Home in place of Tenting on the Old Campground, and replace Freischutz Quickstep with Ben Bolt. We’re adding Louisville March so that we can demonstrate the formal and stylistic differences between marches and quicksteps.

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The big opera tune for 2017 is “Coronation March from Le Prophete” by Giacomo Meyerbeer. This is a very regal and melodic piece suitable for the crowning of a monarch.

One of our E-flat Cornet players is also a wonderful tenor, so I’m arranging Stephen Fosters’ I Dream of Jeanine with the Light Brown Hair and Beautiful Dreamer to feature him. We’re also going to program a new edition “Washington Greys” based upon the parts of the 4th New Hampshire (Port Royal) Band.

Right now it looks like the first performance of the year will be in Elkhorn, NE on March 4.

Broken Bow Trip

What a wonderful trip the 1st Nebraska had to Broken Bow, NE for the 100th anniversary of their historic band stand. Over the years the town has enjoyed many concerts and historic speeches presented via this platform in their city square park. The citizens have repaired and restored the band stand to keep it as a focal point of their city, and they identify strongly with it. Be sure to view the video linked below to listen to them talk about their band stand.

North Platte TV Coverage of Broken Bow’s Bandstand Celebration. Short clips of 1st Nebraska included.

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The day was full of activities, beginning with a fun run and including a chili cookout for lunch. The official program began at 2 pm with the posting of the colors and national anthem, followed by a reenactment of Sen. George Norris’ speech from 1935. Norris was portrayed by Dave Landis, a noted historical presenter from central Nebraska.

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Following Landis’ portrayal the 1st Nebraska presented its concert. Several ladies and gentlemen wore period costumes which they paraded while we played. About half-way through our program we paused to hold an old-time paper plate throw sponsored by local merchants. Catchers of the plates won free meals and merchandise from the sponsors. Then we resumed and completed our concert.

The band was welcomed with great hospitality including a suite at the historic Arrow Hotel. The suite was a welcome respite following our 3.5 hour drive from Omaha. Following the concert Shelly and I retreated to the rooms to relax in the air conditioning and to watch the Ohio State football game.

We’re very thankful for the invitation to perform in Broken Bow, and want to acknowledge the main sponsors of the event: The City of Broken Bow, The Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, and Custer Public Power. A special thanks goes to our contact person, Carol Fritzler.

Broken Bow Bandstand Celebration

On Saturday, October 8th, 1st Nebraska will travel to Broken Bow, NE, to participate in the city’s celebration of their historic bandstand, originally built 100 years ago. The band stand has been refurbished a few times over the years, and recently underwent a comprehensive restoration so that civic and musical events could continue to be held in the town square park.

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The ceremony begins at 2:00 with flag posting by two honor guards and a reading of the speech given by Senator Norris in 1935. Norris was the champion of rural electrification, and today Nebraska remains the only state with 100% public power companies. The band will play the Star Spangled Banner at 2:00 and then perform its concert following the speech.

The event is being sponsored by the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce, the Custer Power Company, and the City of Broken Bow. We’re really looking forward to this road trip and to meeting the very hospitable people of Broken Bow. If your in the North Central par of Nebraska on Saturday come out and hear us play and help Broken Bow celebrate.

Concert at Ft. Atkinson

This past Sunday, October 2nd, 1st Nebraska performed for the Washington County Heritage Days at historic Ft. Atkinson in Ft. Calhoun. NE. It was a beautiful fall day with sunny skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. The band set up in a tent cover while the audience sat in the sun, sorry. All along the path to the fort entrance Living History re-enactors demonstrated skills of the early 1800’s, the period in which the fort was active.
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Ft. Atkinson was built to protect the Missouri River following Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery’s navigation and exploration. The fort served as a trading post for trappers and Native Americans, and as an emissary of the federal government. Today, the rebuilt fort contains barracks, store house, commissary, ammunition storage, a schoolroom and offices  all bordered by a stockade.
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We had a wonderful time performing and meeting people hosting and exploring this new festival in Northeastern Nebraska.