It’s become a summer tradition for many Hays musicians.
The Hays City Band will play three concerts in Hays and the surrounding area later this month. The performances will be in public, outdoor spaces, and the public is welcome to attend at no cost.
“Just show up — bring a lawn chair, or a towel. Bring your dog and take a walk while you’re listening to some music,” said Matt Rome, one of the band’s two directors. “It’s really pretty laid back.”
The first performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the FHSU quad. There also will be a 7:30 p.m. June 20 performance outside Washington Grade School in Ellis; and one at 7:30 p.m. June 27 at VFW Hall in WaKeeney.
The concerts last approximately one hour, and the band will play a mix of traditional and modern compositions, Rome said.
The community band — which is open to musicians of different ages and talent levels — has approximately 40 members, which come from many different walks of life, Rome said.
“Advanced junior high students could sit in. We have high school and college students, music teachers from the area,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of older patrons. They play once a year, and the Hays City Band is their thing. … It’s a big gamut of all ages and all abilities. We really try to pick music that suits that group too, so everybody can be successful.”
Anyone interested in joining the group is encouraged to come to a rehearsal and try it out. Rehearsals will be at 7 p.m. Mondays in June at Fort Hays State University’s Malloy Hall, room 126. There aren’t any tryouts or prerequisites for joining the band, but musicians are encouraged to come to at least one rehearsal before playing a concert, he said.
The band also can assist with helping musicians access instruments if they do not have their own.
For more information, contact Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org. The band only practices and performs during the summer and is sponsored by FHSU.
The community band — which can be traced back to the late 1800s — provides an outlet for musicians who desire to continue their skills beyond academic bands, Rome said. It also draws musicians from throughout the Hays area.
“For people who are no longer in school, they don’t have the opportunity to play every day, it’s a really great opportunity to dust off that horn and just really kind of get things going again,” he said. “We try to pick music that’s accessible.”
Even if you’re not sure playing in the band is right for you, Rome encourages locals to come enjoy the free concert and support the band.
“If you’re not going to play, at least come listen,” Rome said. “We always want to have a bigger audience and try to reach more people.
“And maybe, sitting in that crowd, you’ll miss it a little more and come check it out next year.”