In the latter half of the 1800’s, immigrant bands were a popular form of cultural entertainment throughout the Upper Peninsula. Formed within this milieu, the Marquette City Band has been preserving that tradition since 1887.
About the Band: The Early Years
From the 1860’s to 1900 immigrant bands made up of Cornish (e.g., the English Oak Band), Finnish, Swedish, German, and Italian musicians marched in parades and presented concerts in and around Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming. In the fall of 1887, the first official Marquette City Band was established when the entire Calumet Eureka Band, consisting of 14 members, was invited to move permanently from Calumet to Marquette. In 1889, the Marquette City Band took second place in state competition in Muskegon. In 1929, John Longyear, Jr. circulated a petition and presented a plan to the city council for municipal funding to reestablish the band after a period of dormancy. The voters approved the measure, and Martin Johnson directed their first performance in 1929. The band has had an unbroken record of performance since then. In the 1930’s, the band played both at Harlow Park on Thursday nights and on Sunday afternoons at Presque Isle Park.
At one time, the band shell was just a cement slab, and people would park their cars on the road above the slab to listen to concerts from there. Because gas was rationed during World War II, performances were moved to Lakeside/Father Marquette Park (present site of the chamber of commerce) so people could walk to the concerts. Some area residents can still remember buying a bag of popcorn at Hurley’s popcorn wagon at Front and Main streets, to enjoy during the concerts.
The Modern Years
During the 1950’s, the Sunday concerts were discontinued, but the Thursday nights concerts have remained a staple for about 8 weeks each summer at the Presque Isle Band shell. Occasionally there is ‘musical’ competition from the coal dock near by, but the band plays on! In the past, on rare occasions, a deer or two has been seen roaming the seating area just before the crowds arrive for the concerts. Hope to see you there. (Portions of this have been taken from a June 2001 article written by Claudia Drosen that appeared in the Marquette Monthly Magazine, as well as Marquette City Band records, and a 1981 PhD dissertation by Jerrold M. Michaelson).
We are a tax-deductible organization, and accept donations to the Marquette Band, Inc. at any time.
Buying new music, replacing worn out percussion equipment, purchasing additional uniforms is always a need in our continuing efforts to provide you with the summer park series.
Donations and/or any comments can be mailed to: The Marquette City Band, 300 W Baraga Ave, Marquette, Michigan, 49855.
Please Note: Our normal venues for performances are Handicapped Accessible.
However the performances may be located outdoors during good weather, and the band shell at Presque Isle Park is about a 200 yards from the parking lot. Please plan accordingly