For fans of music performed on period wind instruments, the Vintage Band Festival provides a unique opportunity to experience it all in one place. It’s being billed as four days, 30 bands, and 100 concerts, all of which take place Aug. 1-4 in the historic arts town of Northfield and surrounding communities.
Yet, if your idea of vintage brass bands makes your mind go directly to a picture of a Civil War era, late 19th Century jovial brass band, well you aren’t far off. There will be plenty of such bands represented; in fact many festivalgoers will dress in the same period clothing during the celebration. While such music is certainly a draw, you’d be wrong if you thought that’s all there was.
The festival promises to showcase a vast repertoire of music, dating from as far back as the Baroque era. Performances will be in a full range of genres—marches, ballads, jazz, polkas and even alphorn songs—representing many different cultures and traditions. According to the Brass Messengers, a Twin Cities band that plays Balkan and Caribbean music, in the event’s press materials, vintage band music is “anything that fits in the twisted brass tubing, from originals to covers from around the globe, as long as it’s making joyful noise.”
Throughout the event, many European bands will showcase music from their land of origin, including the Swedish band Medevi Brunnsorkester, a brass sextet with music dating back to 1870; the Oktetten Ehnstedts Eftr., a Swedish wind band from Stockholm; and the Original Drachenfelser Musikanten, a quartet from Germany. Bands from the United States, such as Mariachi mi Tierra MN and the Brass Messengers (pictured) will perform music that is not indigenously American.
The Vintage Band Festival offers a “portal into different eras,” as event organizers describe it. More than music, the festival is an opportunity to step back in time with other events such as a vintage baseball game, an evening of vaudeville featuring pet tricks and slapstick comedy, and ballroom dancing.
Vintage Band Festival
August 1-4, 2013
Events begin at noon each day. Performances will begin on the hour and every half hour at various venues throughout the city lasting well into the evening.
The performances take place in many outdoor locations all around Northfield. Sites include Bridge Square, Way Park, Odd Fellows Park, Northfield Retirement Center, Riverside Park, Veterans’ Memorial Park, Central Park, restaurants and more, in addition to satellite concert sites in surrounding communities. In case of inclement weather, alternate indoor sites will be announced. Many attendees bring a bicycle and a folding chair. This is the best way to get around to the concert sites. A sun umbrella is also useful.
Admission: All events are free, however festivalgoers are encouraged to make donations. Those who do make a donation will receive a designer pin, along with access to the dance and vaudeville show.