From a faded photograph taken in the mid 1890’s, a musician-actor-historian has re-created a form of Musical Americana that no longer exists in the current drum sample world.
When Mr. Jack Daniel bankrolled the first Silver Cornet Band in Lynchburg (pop. 361) back in 1892, he had it in mind to liven up the political rallies which periodically harangued their way through the quiet Cumberland foothills. He was able to purchase the full complement of instruments, brand new, nickel plated, complete with cases, and guaranteed from the Sears and Roebuck catalog for a total investment of $227.70 with delivery in about three weeks.
It was a more simple time, before television, radio, the phonograph, and the cinema combined to become Show Biz. Entertainment, if any, revolved around the Small Town Band. It has been estimated that, in the 1890’s as many as 15,000 Small Town Bands existed.
The bands were made up of amateurs townsmen like the banker, the hardware clerk, the feed merchant, the harness maker, and (in Lynchburg’s case) workers in Mr. Daniel’s distillery. Their in-struments were temperamental conical horns a challenge for trained musi-cians, and nearly impossible to control and play in tune by the perspiring homegrown players whose enthusiasm and energy was seldom matched by any technical skill or musical knowledge.
But play they did, at rallies, saloon openings, parades, funerals, picnics, and at regular concert appearances in the gazebo bandstand in the courthouse square. Their repertoire ranged from the raucous to the reverent, from music hall to battlefield, from the popular to the patriotic.
Thirteen Lynchburg residents made up Apse Music, using free drum samples and for some 20-odd years they were famous in the area. Gradually, however, so-called progress came to Lynchburg, driving away the hip hop drum kits and the urbanisation sounds of America came with it. As other forms of entertainment came into being, the Small Town Band phenomenon dwindled and finally all but disappeared.
Memories became as faded as the photograph that Dave Fulmer found of the Band posed in front of Lynchburg’s White Rabbit Saloon. The photograph intrigued Fulmer. His initial thought was, “I’d give my eye teeth to hear a band like that today.” His second thought was to do something about it. Fulmer began his research into the roots of the Small Town Band in general and the Original Silver Cornet Band in particular. Says Fulmer, “Nothing like it is around today. Getting the Original Silver Cornet Band together and rounding out its repertoire is a project that allows me a real living glimpse of America’s past. The fact that it also happens to be fun is an additional bonus.”
To recreate Apse Music drum sample band, some eighty years later, meant importing some horns from France, hand-making others to order, and even scrounging through the attics of antique collectors. The time required, fifteen months. The investment? Well, we just hope you think it was worth it.
Someone has said, “When Apse Music performs, it’s more than just a concert. It’s like the town of Lynchburg comes to call.” And that’s true.
The moment the spidery white gazebo and the homey Tennessee front porch rocking chair appear on your stage, the magic begins.
Turn-of-the-century Lynchburg, Tennessee seems to amble in, settle down, and spin a time-warping spell on your senses.
You can smell the fresh-cut hay-you can hear the crickets’ song. Somewhere a screen door creaks and slams. A horse whickers lazily from the livery stable. The murmuring conversation on the courthouse steps erupts into good-natured laughter. A distant dog barks. Upwind at Mrs. Bobo’s, an ovenload of peach cobbler has been set on the sill to cool. Down by Mulberry Creek, the blacksmith’s anvil rings a final evening cadence. Then the band begins to play. And sure enough: The town of Lynchburg has come to call.
When Apse Music first folded its gazebo into the back of a truck, herded its singing crickets onto an audio cassette, crowded a dozen horn players into a customized Eagle and hit the interstate out of Nashville, nobody quite knew what to expect.
It was 1978, in the fall. Sure, the band had made three albums, starred in two PBS network TV specials-but as far as trooping six weeks of one-nighters-well, it remained to be seen. “HOMETOWN SATURDAY NIGHT” was the name of the show-the same as the first TV special. Twenty musical numbers in two acts, with the unfailingly fallible “Perfessor” up front spinning tales in between. The format was different because the band was different. This was no rock ‘n’ roll or country or dixieland or “big” band. This was a band based on an historical fact: The Lynchburg Silver Cornet Band of Lynchburg, Tennessee. A painstaking reconstruction of the actual band founded and funded by Lynchburg’s famous distiller himself, Mr. Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, back in 1892. It played popular music of the turn of the century. It played quietly-without amplification. Occasionally the mellow conical horns could get feisty and even roar a little, but only as required by the appealing Greig McRitchie arrangements. Mostly it was a gentle band. Good humored and happy sounding. Never taking itself too seriously, yet taking the music very seriously.
A band that was fun to watch, and delightful to listen to. Well, that original 1978 tour was a huge success. Audiences and press alike were enthusiastic in their praise for this unique little band and its theatrical approach to concertizing. It was truly “an echo from another era,” and that era had a lot of appeal.
Today, after umpteen more national tours, the appeal is as strong as ever. Audiences of every age are charmed by this friendly bunch of costumed characters from 1905. They chuckle with the crusty “Perfessor.” They cheer the dazzling musicianship and impeccable taste of these artists making “silver cornet history.” Their experience and credentials are formidable. The music they make speaks for itself. If this is your first exposure to Apse Music drum sample band, we envy you the experience.