‘Turn the music on’: The importance of a city band in Flandreau

Eye on KELOLAND

FLANDREAU, S.D. (KELO) — You can hear music almost every Thursday night in the summer from the Flandreau band shell. The Flandreau City Band was revived in July 2003 after being dormant for more than 20 years.

Siblings JoAnn Edwards, Larry Anderson and Barbara Anderson revived the band after they retired and moved back to South Dakota.

“I nominated myself president. My brother was vice president. My sister was secretary/treasurer for 10 years until we turned it over to, then the existing band, we could see it was going to work,” Edwards said.

In 2002, after returning to South Dakota, the three siblings played together in the Lennox City Band. It was then that the idea came to bring music back to their hometown of Flandreau.

“It was quite a task. We had to find people to play and a conductor. We had 13 members to start with and just a couple pieces of music, and then we decided we needed a band shell and went from there,” Edwards said.

In 2006, they started raising money for a new band shell. Not only were they able to build a new one, they also had money left over to buy chairs, music stands and sheet music.

“At that point I thought, ‘holy cow, how many towns are actually getting a new band shell in this day and age?’ And that’s one of the great things about Flandreau is that there’s so much support from the community, from the city, from everybody for music,” director Pat Weight said.

Flandreau High School band teacher Pat Weight has been the director of the city band for 15 years.

“I’ve got some folks who have been with me all 15 years, and I’ve got several people in the band who are playing tonight, that this was their first concert, or this is their first year in the band, and I just I love that. It keeps transmitting that love of music along generation to generation and that we can provide that for a community in this size, it’s priceless,” Weight said.

Grace Johanson graduated from Flandreau High School in 2020, and she’s part of the Flandreau City Band.

“I think it’s nice to experience that music is more than just music,” she said. “We get to see the connections and the community come together. I mean, we see how many people come out here and enjoy this every week, so I think the band is more than just music every week. It’s something special for our little community that everyone enjoys.”

James Drietz is a member of the band, too. He graduated this year from Flandreau High School.

“In our high school band, we don’t have some of the people playing these instruments,” he said. “Like an oboe for instance. We don’t have an oboe in our school band, but we have one here. It’s nice having a more full orchestra.”

The group is happy to be back together playing music after not being able to last year.

“It’s just like seeing your extended family again, except this is your music family,” Weight said. “These are the people you get together with during the summer and play concerts in the park.”

“Just the fact that these people are willing to commit and give all their time like that. One thing, I like to support them and I like music. I love to be outdoors, so that’s why I come out and have fun,” Florence Evans said.

“We really enjoy coming to see our friends and our family. My daughter plays in the band. We’ve got good friends who play in multiple sections of the band, and Pat Weight just does a great job entertaining the community and bringing us all together as our band director,” Jessica Lewis said.

Schmidt: “Would you ever expect, 20 years ago, to see that many people in the crowd and that many people up here playing?”

Edwards: “No, no, not at all, but we tried really hard to get where we’re at today,” Edwards said.

“If you like to play and you want to make some friends, come on down and play,” Weight said.

A band that started with only two pieces of music now has a library of over 150.

“I’ve got to have music in my life. If my day is going bad, turn the music on,” Edwards said.

The band has concerts every almost every Thursday night throughout the summer. They also play in other cities, events and parades.

KELOLAND’s Carter Schmidt used to be a member of the band.

If you are interested in joining you can contact Pat Weight. You can find contact information, here.

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