The Capital City Bands:
A brief history with pictures
According to records and residents’ memories, Tallahassee’s first town band was formed around 1924. The founder, leader, and private instrumental instructor were all in the person of Mr. Frank Fitch. Membership numbered between 20 and 25, and consisted of many husband-wife, brother-sister-cousin combinations. This band was sponsored by the city (though the members had to buy their own uniforms), and the city built a band shell and even a community hall expressly for the band to practice in. The band, in turn, furnished not only the Sunday afternoon concerts, but regular Saturday night performances. The crowds were good because the stores stayed open late and just about everybody was in town. This early band provided a place for young musicians to play since bands were not a part of the public school music program in Leon County at that time. Some members of the Capital City Band were under 10 years of age. Mr. Fitch left Tallahassee in the early 1930s, and the band was taken over by Mr. Otto Koshelney. In 1933, the band reached its high point as it made the long trip to Chicago to the “Century of Progress Exhibition.” On the way to Chicago, the band members stopped and were measured for uniforms. Shortly after this, the band was dissolved as music moved into the public schools.
Over the years. several attempts were made to reactivate a city band. One group, formed around a nucleus of local doctors in the early 1960s, was probably the most successful, but not too long-lasting. In the fall of 1966, two students from Florida State University – a music therapy and a recreation major – began organizing a city band as a community improvement project. This group was formed with the idea of providing mature musicians an outlet for their talent and experience. In its formative stage, the Tallahassee Community Band, as it was christened, was under no special sponsorship. Music, stands, and large instruments were borrowed from local high schools and universities. A flood of publicity netted a roomful of prospective members in the designated rehearsal hall – a junior high school cafetorium. A director was chosen, and the band was ready to go. The membership of this band reflected some of the changes in the city. Most of the people were strangers to each other. The forest ranger sat next to insurance salesman; the student, the prison guard, and the computer programmer played side by side; the housewife and the teacher shared a stand. The average age of the group was 35. After a few months of struggling, the Tallahassee Recreation Department was welcomed under the aegis of the Recreation Department. Tallahassee Community Band gave its first performance in December 1966 – a Christmas program sponsored by the Recreation Department. In 1967, the band was asked to portray an old-time band in the city’s Parade of Governors (a forerunner of Springtime Tallahassee). In period costumes, the band rode on a flatbed truck down the center of town playing tunes from the Gay 90′s. (The parade committee had wanted to put them in a horse-drawn vehicle, but this was unanimously vetoed by the band.)