Fourth festivities begin with patriotic concert


Brownstown kicked off this year’s Fourth of July celebration on Sunday with a patriotic concert featuring the Columbus City Band.

There’s a few guarantees tied to the concert held on the last Sunday in June each year. For one thing, it’s almost always sure to be hot and for another the band, which features a number of musicians from Jackson County, is going to play a lot popular marches.

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After opening with the “Star Spangled Banner” during this year’s concert at Heritage Park, the band played John Phillip Sousa’s “Bullets and Bayonets.”

“It’s not one of his most famous marches, but it’s what’s looked upon on as one of his best marches,” band director Steve McGrew said.

The band played an number of other marches including Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which is the country’s national march and is much more well known, and “Ticonderoga” by Leroy Anderson.

They also played a medley of songs from The Great War (World War I); a medley of American composer Henry Mancini’s songs; and a medley of hits from the musical “Grease.”

The volunteer community band, which has called Columbus home since 1843, includes a number of former high school band directors besides McGrew — and some of their students. Some families also have multiple people in the band, including recent Hauser High School graduate, Kaylee Fleenor.

“I joined because my dad invited me,” Fleenor said shortly before the concert began.

She is a percussionist while her father, Chris, is one of band’s trumpet players. They have been members for a couple of years now.

Kaylee, however, has been playing instruments since she was in sixth grade. She also plays with the Columbus City Orchestra.

While many members like the marches, Kaylee said she likes the Grease medley as well as some of the Beatles song the band often plays.

Trombonist Ed Kern of Seymour, who has been playing with band for six or seven years now, said he enjoys it and he likes the annual pre-Fourth of July concert at Brownstown.

“There’s a lot of good players in the band, and so it’s a lot of fun playing with them, especially with the kind of music we play,” he said.

Kern said his first selection is “Stars and Stripes Forever,” a march that everyone likes.

With temperatures above 90 at the start of the concert, he said there was only way to combat the heat.

“Just stay cool,” Kern said. “Don’t think about it.”

Andrea Bland of Columbus, who has been playing with the band for four years now, said that as a trumpet player she also likes the marches.

Shelby Gerth of North Vernon joined the band earlier this years said she also favors any of the marches.

Gerth’s husband, Dave Gerth, said the two have both been playing musical instruments since they were children, but recently became members of the band at the urging of Eric Jarboe, their former music teacher at Jennings County High School.

Dave Gerth said this was their first concert at Brownstown with the band.

“It’s wonderful,” he said.

The band has been performing a patriotic concert on the last Sunday in June since 2004. That concert had been held on the courthouse lawn but was moved to Heritage Park a year ago.