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Band City Band celebrating 30 years, but needs singer, new members

The non-profit brass and reed instrument group began in 1993 after the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) community group dissolved, which prompted the former bandmaster to start the Band City Band

The Band City Band has been entertaining residents for 30 years with tunes from the 1940s and ’50s and is now looking for a singer — and some extra musicians — to join the team.

The non-profit brass and reed instrument group began in 1993 after the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) community group dissolved, which prompted the former bandmaster to start the Band City Band, explained member Blaine Chadwick. 

They started with 28 people, but that number has dwindled to eight. Some have moved away or been transferred for work, while others have grown old and can’t blow or have arthritis in their fingers. 

“Most of us are up in years,” Chadwick, 84, said. 

The group focuses on playing music from the big band era — popular acts included the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and the Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm Orchestra — with well-known tunes such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.”  

Chadwick — who plays the clarinet — began his musical career decades ago performing with the Saskatchewan Dragoons’ band. However, since he worked for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), he was transferred across the country several times. 

He eventually played with military bands in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal before ending up in Moose Jaw with the CAF group.

The Band City Band has been playing regularly after the province lifted pandemic restrictions. Most of the group’s focus has been performing at care homes, while it also participates in the Health Foundation’s Concerts in the Park in August, the legion’s Remembrance Day ceremony and Sidewalk Days. 

“So if anybody phones up and wants us to go to something … to play and just entertain the people (we will),” Chadwick said.

The musicians practice in the basement of the Hammond Building — where Chadwick is the maintenance man — Monday nights from 7 to 8 p.m. He attempts to arrange most performances for either Saturday afternoons or Monday nights, depending upon the care homes’ schedules.

When they perform, Chadwick uses a computer program to provide background instruments — such as drums, bass and piano — to accompany the group. 

Susan Dawkin was the group’s singer for years, but she moved to Saskatoon three years ago, which left the band without vocals. However, she sometimes returns to sing when the group participates in Sidewalk Days. 

“You kind of miss a singer when you had a nice singer that would be able to sing (songs),” said Chadwick. 

The Band City Band has contacted choirs in Moose Jaw to see if anyone wants to join but has not received any interested responses. 

“If somebody wanted to sing with us, all they’d have to do is be willing and able and have fun. They don’t have to be a good singer. Just come out and enjoy,” Chadwick said. 

“I’m sure the nursing homes … are not worried if they’re dead-on with every single thing. It just adds a little colour to the band and to the entertainment if you can have someone sing the words.” 

Most members have performed together for more than 20 years and have become good friends, he continued. No one becomes upset when they must practice in the winter, while they like performing for people in nursing homes since they can’t leave their buildings.

“We’re here for the community. We just enjoy what we’re doing,” Chadwick added. “If they (residents) visit their loved ones at the various nursing homes or Concerts in the Park, we’re always open to them saying hi and hello.” 

Anyone interested in joining the Band City Band can call Blaine at 306-631-0588.

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