The Indiana Brass Band

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The Town Band

The current Indiana Brass Band is a performance sub-group of the Wildcat Regiment Band, a recreation of the original Civil War era brass band, the regimental band of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer. Infantry that was recruited in 1861. This current local group of musical historians has been in existence since 1992, performing thought the eastern United States.

The regimental bands of the American Civil War enlisted musicians from the community or "town bands" that existed throughout America at the time of the outbreak of hostilities in 1861. The town bands and their music played an important social and artistic and military role in their respective communities and beyond, thus leaving all of us with a wonderful glimpse into the lives of the people that lived in these 19th century American communities.

Indiana, Pa. and the surrounding area is a prime example of a community that had its own town band prior to the American Civil War. The earliest known newspaper account of the original Indiana Brass Band, confirms its existence in 1842, having "played for the Total Abstinence Society".

In 1855, the band "acquired new instruments and a new leader" apparently at a time of what might appear as a reorganization of the group. John C, Smith, took on the leadership of the band at this time. His primary function in the community besides lending musical leadership to the IBB was his occupation as a shoemaker. His business and household was located on Philadelphia St. The extent of "Professor" Smith&s formal musical education or background is not completely known.

The Indiana Brass Band was invited and traveled to Harrisburg, Pa. in 1860 to assist in the Commonwealth&s celebrations honoring the new president elect, Abraham Lincoln. When the call to arms came in 1861, members of the Indiana Brass Band were recruited along with other musicians from other area communities such as Brookville ,and Strattanville (Strattanville Cornet Band) and Clearfield Pa. to form the Wildcat Regiment Band.

It can be reasonably assumed that many of the IBB musicians may have already been somewhat familiar with military drill and discipline, having evidence of them participating with the area&s militia companies in parades, patriotic rallies and other events. Many however, including Mr. Smith, would not be prepared for what was waiting for them on the battlegrounds and in the military camps located in Virginia, a long way from home. Mr. Smith and other members of the IBB would return home and continue with the band&s tradition of providing music to the people of Indiana and the surrounding area.

The Indiana Brass Band today is comprised of musicians of all ages and from various professional backgrounds. The current musicians perform on a variety of original brass instruments dating from the early to mid 19th century time period. All of the music that is performed is original to the same time period and the band performs a unique collection of social, sacred, patriotic and military music of 19th century America. The group&s visual appearance is further enhanced with the band members clothing having been researched and recreated to accurately represent the clothing worn in the same time period. The performance of the this group focuses on the origins of what was termed the "American brass band movement" (1835-1865) and follows it through to the onset of military action in 1861.

The Indiana Brass Band has performed for historic and civic and events throughout the eastern United States, including Gettysburg National Military Park, Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, The National Park Service C&O Canal historic sites at Cumberland Md., Georgetown, Va., Great Falls, Va. and the National Park Service site of the Allegheny Portage Railroad in Cresson and another canal site in Hollidaysburg, Pa. The band has also performed lectures and demonstrations for audiences attending academic conferences and for other specific study groups exploring 19th century American music and culture. These include events at Indiana University of Pa. and Shepherds College, Shepherdstown, W.Va. ,Campbellsville University, Campbellsville Ky., and the Genteel Arts Conference in Camp Hill, Pa.

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Indiana Brass Band

Indiana Town Band Indiana Keyed Brass Band
       Indiana Brass Band Circa 1845 (over the shoulder horns) Indiana Brass Band Circa 1835 (keyed horns)

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