FAIRBORN — As of this Sunday, the Fairborn Civic Band has been adding their music to the annual Fairborn Fourth of July parade for a quarter of a century. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Fairborn Civic Band will return, playing lively and patriotic tunes for the parade and block party this weekend.
“For me, one of the best parts of the band performing for the parade is seeing familiar and new faces each year, and waving to the passers-by,” said band director Gary Johnson, who has led the Fairborn Civic Band since its inception. “I believe the music of the Fairborn Civic Band sets the patriotic stage for the spectators and participants in the parade. It also helps fill the air with the spirit Independence Day brings.”
Last year, the Fourth of July parade was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the band is back and plans to make this parade the best one yet.
“There is a little bit of something for everybody,” Johnson said. “We have added several new selections, including ‘Africa’ by Toto and a ‘John Williams in Concert’ medley. Parade goers will hear the same high quality music played by musicians that they have grown accustomed to over the years. We offer patriotic classics, to Broadway, to rock and pop selections.”
The band was formed in 1995, when longtime Fairborn resident and trumpeter Jim Leatherman teamed up with Bob D’Epiro, former Fairborn City Schools band director, to form a band for adults. The emphasis was on getting musicians, whose talent had grown rusty, “back in the swing of things,” Johnson said. D’Epiro recruited Johnson to direct the band in 1996, and the band’s first performance was the Fairborn Fourth of July parade that year.
The band has continued since then with no interruption in rehearsals and performances until last year.
“But we are joyfully back to making music and going strong,” Johnson said. “We always love playing for the Fairborn community.”
The band typically has 25 to 30 players at a time. Folks tend to come and go, but the band has held strong in its numbers over the years.
“Every year we experience some turnover due to members relocating, etc.,” Johnson said. “We have had several new folks join the band this year which we are very pleased with.”
In recent years, the Fairborn Civic Band has joined forces with A/C Strings, under the direction of Kathy Johnston and Dr. Phillipa Burgess, to form the Fairborn Regional Orchestra.
After July 4, the band begins preparing for its 25th anniversary concert, which will be at 7 p.m., July 31 in Central Park. The band will also play in the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival on Aug. 21. The Fairborn Regional Orchestra will also perform on August 28.
The band is also potentially available throughout the year for additional performances. It does not have a set performance fee but does accept donations to defray the costs of new music and equipment.
To anyone wishing to join the Civic Band, Johnson says, give him a call. Even if they’re a bit rusty. The band rehearses on Thursdays.
“Folks who played in high school band qualify,” he said. “Dedication to playing is required of everyone. That’s all.”
For more information, visit the Fairborn Civic Band Facebook page. Johnson can be reached at 937-369-3549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.