P O W E L L, W y o. - The young and the not-so-young will perform together Tuesday, April 15, when the Alte Kameraden Band from Red Lodge joins the Northwest College Wind Band for a 7:30 p.m. concert in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium on the NWC campus in Powell.
Neil Hansen, who directs the NWC Wind Band, said his musicians and the audience as well will be treated to a rich slice of history along with some rare musicianship.
The Alte Kameraden Band, as it's called today, can trace its roots to turn-of-the-19th century Red Lodge, where civic bands organized around mining, community and ethnic groups. Early on, two regularly performing bands, the Finn band and the Italian band, were best known. At the onset of World War I, their ranks were slimmed down when many of their members left home to serve in the military. This inspired the joining of the two groups into what some remember as the Red Lodge Military Band. This group eventually evolved into the Red Lodge Concert Band and later into the Red Lodge City Band.
The Red Lodge City Band continued until somewhere near 1940, when recorded history seems to have lost the group for about 15 years. When the city's Festival of Nations was launched, it apparently initiated the band's rebirth as the Festival Band.
According to Hansen, the current Alte Kameraden Band took shape approximately 19 years ago when horn player Kerry Boggio set up shop in Red Lodge and needed a local outlet to keep up his trumpet "chops."
The band performs year round in rehearsals and as the Oktoberfest band and special-occasion band. This includes weekly concerts in downtown Red Lodge during the summer, which Kerry's brother, Ken Boggio, says helps the group "keep up our 'town band' image."
When asked about the group's "uptown band" image, Ken said, "I suppose our highlight of the past 10 years would be performing for the 2004 International Finn Fest held in Minneapolis. We performed four concerts of all Finnish-American music, including one where we shared the stage with NPR's Garrison Keillor."
The Alte Kameraden Band's repertoire for the evening features quite a few tunes you don't hear every day, like "Sanlovenzo - Marsch," "Holzhacher Buam" and "Nygard Iitin - Tiltu Polkka" among others.
The mostly teenage faces of Hansen's college band will contrast in no small way with the Red Lodge band, which includes eight retired band directors from both Wyoming and Montana, plus a cohort of hobby players who have day jobs as construction contractors, electricians, oil field engineers, housewives, a retired politician, displaced professional musicians, a retired airline pilot, rancher-farmers and community business entrepreneurs, including two published authors.
Also in contrast to the Red Lodge band, the NWC Wind Band will offer more familiar fare that includes "Saxophobia," featuring Craig Olson, "Stars and Stripes" and "Bali," a piece that mimics an Indonesian Gamelan.
Admission is free.