Disband the Hometown Band?
Grant Bodwell, a longtime member of the Sonoma Hometown Band, retired school teacher and resident Sonoman, has written what he describes as "a sob story" in the Valley forum space below, in which he asks us if, after viewing yesterday's Fourth of July parade, we would miss the band if it, so to speak, disbanded.
To which we have a simple, four-word answer: Band-so-lute-ly.
But we have to take a little issue with Bodwell's plaintiff pitch. We think it's a little too restrained and polite.
And we think he held back a bit too much in explaining the selling points. So we'd like to help him out by adding a few salient facts missing in his sob story.
First of all, Bodwell, in making the case for a fairly desperate fundraising appeal, politely refrained from naming the dollar amount that needs to be raised. So we'd like to suggest $10,000, at least to begin with. We have no idea if that's how much the band needs, but as a starting point it's a nice round number, it's doable and it's the same amount one wealthy donor contributed to the July 4 fireworks show to guarantee it could be produced in its full majesty.
Why is the full majesty of the Sonoma Hometown Band important? Were you at the parade? Did you stick around for the Other Hometown Band? Where else can you get two bands in one, for free?
Did you see the raw joy on the faces of those musicians - at least the ones not fighting pulmonary collapse from forcing impossible air pressures through the mouthpieces of wind instruments they first played 50 years ago.
And that's another reason the band is so important. Doesn't matter whether you're now 70 and last blew a horn in your high school band. For that matter, it doesn't matter if you're 17 and just started blowing a trumpet in your high school band. This is one group of equal opportunity musicians.
There are only six questions on the band's application form: 1) Have you ever played an instrument? 2) Do you have an instrument? 3) If not, can you borrow an instrument? 4) Can you put your instrument together? 5) If not, can we put it together for you? 6) Do you have a sense of humor?
At any given time about 30 local musicians have responded with enough yeses to meet the admittedly minimal entrance requirements. But that doesn't mean the music they make is mediocre. Far from it.
Thanks to the presence of founding music director Richard Schneider, former Sonoma Valley High School music director, 2007 Sonoma Art Treasure of the Year and all around local music hero, a band of often rusty, mostly amateur musicians are regularly transformed into a band of professionals, performing a series of concerts, along with their marching band performances, that add a rich, irreplaceable and economical element to Sonoma's musical landscape.
They also distribute small, annual scholarships, in Richard Schneider's name, to talented, young music students to encourage their creative development.
So here's the bottom line: If 400 of us kick in $25, that's $10,000. That's well within our means. Let's do it. The mailing address is P.O. Box 550, 95476. You can reach Richard Schneider at 996-3413.