The Old Arizona Brass Band (OABB), which also performs as the 4th Cavalry Regimental Band at Fort Lowell, Arizona Territory, was founded in October 1996 by the late Ray Hicks for the purpose of providing a living representation of the military and civilian brass bands of territorial Arizona from 1872 to 1912. The music, uniforms and musical instruments are authentic to the cavalry and town bands of this period. The band performs throughout Southern Arizona and sometimes travels to other parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Historical celebrations serve as our most common venue, but the band is often called upon to perform individual concerts, an occasional military or civilian ball, or as part of a music festival such as the Oro Valley Music Festival or the Music Series at Tohono Chul Park. The band annually performs a Saturday afternoon concert at the celebration of Arizona's only Civil War Battle at Picacho Peak State Park in early March.
Membership in the band is open to persons 18 years of age and older, based upon the band's instrumentation needs, the person's musical skill and their ability to authentically re-enact historic scenarios. Students under the age of 18 may participate with the approval of their guardian and the Musical Director. Prospective new members should contact the band board firstname.lastname@example.org to evaluate our need for their instrument and their ability to meet the requirements for membership. Occasionally the band may include members who will rehearse with the band and serve as alternates, a necessary limitation since the band has fixed instrumentation for performances. It is essential to the success of the band that members accept their assigned placement. Strong players need to be distributed over all parts within a section to insure that inner parts are covered, and that there is little or no doubling.
Rehearsals start promptly at 7:00 PM and run until 8:45 PM at Townsend Middle School, near Beverly and Grant in East Tucson. Members are expected to arrive early enough to obtain their music folder and stand, and have their instrument ready to go when rehearsal starts. Music stands are available at the rehearsal hall, but members are responsible for bringing a stand to performances. Since the quality of any rehearsal depends on as many members being present as possible, it is essential to make an effort to be at each rehearsal. If a member cannot attend a rehearsal, they should let the musical director know by telephone or e-mail as soon as possible. This will greatly assist in preparing for rehearsals. In any event it is a requirement of membership to attend most rehearsals, especially those just prior to a performance.
Performances will be discussed and agreed upon well in advance of a performance, generally at least 30 days in advance. Members are expected to make every performance unless prevented by a conflict revealed and stated prior to the acceptance of the date, or by an unforseen illness or emergency. Performance schedules are frequently passed out at rehearsals and updated when any changes occur. It will be each member's responsibility to maintain a calendar to help avoid conflict in scheduling. Performances are also listed in a schedule posted on the band's web site . Members are expected to arrive at a performance 30 minutes before the downbeat to insure enough time to set up, get instrument and music in order, tune, and receive any last minute instructions. Since many individuals are involved in multiple ensembles, every effort will be made to avoid conflicts with other musical groups.
Although members volunteer their time, the band is usually paid for performances to offset its many expenses. CD sales also help in this regard. When the band accepts a job requiring travel out of town, the band may attempt to reimburse members for their out of pocket transportation expenses.
The band has 2 distinct uniforms, as follows:
-4th Cavalry Regimental Band ==> This consists of a dark blue wool sack coat, navy blue wool trousers, and blue kepi (cap), and black shoes and socks. If a member meets the necessary requirements, they can optionally add corporal or sergeant stripes to the coat and trousers. (See Below)
-Town Band ==> This consists of a red polyester/wool blend band coat, with a blue collar and decorated with gold highlights, black dress-type pants, and a red kepi (cap) for full band & either blue or red kepi for small ensemble. Footwear is black shoes and socks.
The Band provides all special uniform components, including the cavalry coat, trousers and kepi, and the red coat and kepi of the town band. Members are encouraged to purchase their own cavalry uniform, or pay for the one provided by the band. Costs vary, but were running about $250. About half of the members do own their cavalry uniform. This is one of the largest expenses of the band and such help from members makes meeting our financial obligations much easier. Since the band is a 501(c)3 non profit organization, any expense one incurs to play in the band should be tax deductible.
Requirements for Sergeant and Corporal: The member must have purchased their cavalry uniform, have been in the band for at least three years, have a satisfactory record of attendance at rehearsals and performances, and receive permission from the music director. The Sergeant will have sergeant stripes on each shoulder of the coat and a wide gold stripe on the outside of each leg of the trousers. Cost for the Sergeant was running about $65.00. The Corporal will have Corporal stripes on each shoulder of the coat and a narrow gold strip on the outside of each leg of the trousers. Cost for the Corporal was running about $45.00.
Members are encouraged to obtain "at cost" our dark blue tee shirt (with the band's logo in gold) to wear under the uniform coats. It gives the band a nice appearance when we have our coats off before or after a performance. In lieu of band T-shirt, a 19th century-style shirt may be worn instead.
The last thing to be said about uniforms is that each member is expected to wear the complete uniform during a performance, and that coats be buttoned or zipped to the collar. Hats will generally be worn when outdoors and the head uncovered for inside performances.
The OABB owns a large library of authentic period music. Our band librarian is largely responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of this music. We regularly acquire new music to expand our performance capability. Most of the music is in its original published form, although there are a lot of new transcriptions available. Music folders can be taken home for practice unless the librarian needs the folders to insert or remove music. Members should inform the librarian if music is taken home. The OABB often uses a separate performance folder which includes only the music to be performed for one or more concerts. If you are going to be absent for a rehearsal and have a folder out, you should make arrangements to return the folder. If music is missing from the folder, you should inform the librarian so additional copies can be made.
The Band owns a large number of musical instruments, music stands, stand lights and other equipment and materials necessary to rehearse and perform. When the OABB was formally organized, Ray Hicks donated a large amount of music, stands, musical instruments and miscellaneous materials to the band. Since then more has been acquired. It will be most helpful if members assist in dealing with this equipment at performances to include assisting with loading and unloading, setting up for concerts, distributing music, setting out stand lights if required, and doing whatever else is needed to spread around the work. Speak to John Prokop if you can so assist.
Special folding music stands are issued to members for use at performances. It is the member's responsibility to keep and transport his stand, in addition to musical instruments.
Band Organization and Officers
The OABB operates as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization under IRS Statutes. The Band's By-Laws were first written and adopted in 1999. A copy of the By-Laws is available to any member upon request. The Board of Directors consists of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and the Band Manager, plus whatever members-at-large are needed to meet specific functions. Each serves a one-year term. There is an annual election by the band at large. Band operational business is occasionally discussed at regular rehearsals. An annual meeting is held toward the end of the performance year, usually in May. The board, itself, usually meets to conduct business about once each quarter, and more frequently if situations so warrant.
Al Vreeland serves as Musical Director with overall authority and responsibility for all musical matters, including personnel decisions such as band membership and seating within the individual sections. This also includes responsibility for the selection and rehearsal of music, as well as the final decision on our performance schedule. The OABB has tried to use a separate conductor, but for various reasons that has not worked out; so the format we have adopted for now is to perform most pieces without a formal conductor and rotate the conducting assignment for the more technical pieces between several experienced members. Jerry Trout serves asd the Assistant Musical Director and conducts rehearsals or performances in the absences bof the Musical Director.
OABB Web Site
The band has its own web site at http://oabb.homestead.com.. The site includes information about the band, history of early brass bands, performance schedule, and information about purchasing the Band's Music CD along with sample sounds from the CD and other matters in keeping with our educational purposes. There are numerous photos of the band at various performances. The webmaster is John Prokop
Ladies of the Regiment
Several of the wives of members have enjoyed dressing in period costumes when we perform. This has really enhanced our performances and will continue to be encouraged. Some women have purchased period clothing while others have made their own. Our Ladies are actively involved in a lot of what we do; and we occasionally have social activities together. When there are good opportunities to involve the ladies, this will be made known in our schedules.
The OABB generally relies on concert fees and donations to meet its financial needs. We occasionally develop merchandise to sell during our concerts and through other outlets. Our web site also can be used to make our merchandise available. The most successful item we have produced to date is our music CD produced in 2000. It was professionally done and we sell copies to the public for $15, with discounts for quantities. Copies are available to members for a reduced price. We also sell these CDs through several commercial outlets and non-profit gift shops such as at the Ft. Lowell Museum & Saguaro National Park West in Tucson. This has been a great help in meeting the band's operating expenses. We welcome additional ideas for raising funds and all members are encouraged to support any future fund raising activities.