By Erin Beck
Hundreds of revelers from the region turned out to support the Shinnston Community Band’s return to its tradition of Christmas concerts.
Russ McIntyre, acting president of the volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization, said members were extremely excited to be able to both perform Christmas tunes together once again and to be back at the Robinson Grand in Clarksburg on Saturday.
Although they had played outdoors, the band had not played Christmas concerts since 2019 due to COVID-19. Members’ first Christmas concert since 2019 was Dec. 3 at the First Baptist Church of Shinnston’s Lighthouse.
Saturday at 7 p.m., the band, along with the Brass Rhythm and Sax Orchestra, played at the Clarksburg venue.
McIntyre said people in the region are ardent supporters of the arts.
“We’re just happy to be one of those that garners a lot of support,” he said.
Almost 400 people attended.
“The Robinson Grand did a tremendous job of promotion,” he said.
The 67-member band includes new and long-term members, as well as people who live inside and outside Harrison County. Michael Cale, the band director at Mountaineer Middle School, is the musical director.
“We have college students, we have high school students, middle school students. We have older adults, we have some retired folks, people from all different walks of life, in all different professions… We all come together just for the love of music,” McIntyre said.
The band practices at Lincoln High School and is always accepting new members.
“We had a lot of new members this time around,” McIntyre said. “They come from all over…. As far away as Tucker County, people come to play with the band.”
Rehearsals for the annual July concert will start in the spring.
“The band is in its 26th year and I am one of the founding members but there were many folks that came before us,” he said. “Randall Hall. Louis Oliverio. Jim Currey from Shinnston. That’s Leigh Merrifield’s dad. He was one of the founding members of the band. There’s been a long tradition of this… Lee Martin was instrumental in the first organization of the band, and I just hope to carry on from them.”
Merrifield is the previous longtime editor of the Shinnston News.
McIntyre, who plays trombone, started out as a music major and ended up as an accountant.
“It’s kind of formed around adults who used to play in high school and had that musical skill,” he said. “After they graduated, they put their horns away and now it’s 20 years later and they think, ‘oh I’ll never be able to drag that thing out from under the bed and play.’ But you’d be surprised how quick it comes back. If you feel like you’d like to do this again, the community band is the perfect opportunity to do it.”
Marla Ferree, of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, was one of the attendees.
“They did a great performance and Shinnston should be so proud,” she said. “I can’t wait until July to hear them again.”
The group has a Facebook, a Twitter, and a website, shinnstonband.com.