Clown Band begins 65th season

February 7, 2012


By ROB ALWAY editor


SCOTTVILLE – Season number 65 of the Scottville Clown Band began Tuesday night as the band started its practice season at the Scottville Optimist Center.


This will be my 26th year with the band. I was 15 years-old when I was “drafted” into the Clown Band. My oldest brother, Tom, had been playing with the band for about four years and I was at the band’s annual Labor Day party, with my brother and my mother, at the Scottville Riverside Park. “Big George” Wilson came up to my mother and pointed toward me. “How old is the boy, Alie?” he asked my mom. “15,” she responded. “Next year, you start playing,” he told me. So, that was that.


I can’t remember if I practiced with the band but my first performance was the Irons Flea Roast and Ox Market in June 1986. It was a month from my 16th birthday.


The Scottville Clown Band is a rather unique entity. Have you ever seen anything else like it? It’s always great marching down the street or playing a show and seeing the reaction from the audience. I think the biggest amazement from the audience is that the band can actually play.


On Tuesday, our director Dave Buckley began his 19th season directing the band. Dave is a retired band director who lives in Lake City. Every Tuesday, from the beginning of February until the beginning of June, he drives the 100 mile trip to Scottville to lead the band in rehearsal. He then directs the band at its various sit-down concerts.


Dave commented Tuesday how the band’s quality has evolved over the last 19 years. I have to agree.


It’s no secret that the Clown Band has been known for its enjoyment of adult beverages. But, in the words of Big George, “our reputation precedes us.” What once was a group of musicians who got together, partied a lot and played some music, has turned into a group of musicians getting together to entertain. In addition, that group of musicians has given away thousands of dollars in band camp scholarships to middle school and high school music students.


Joining the Scottville Clown Band has been one of the highlights of my life. It was in the Clown Band where I learned to interact with adults. I was privileged to have joined the band when many of the members were veterans of World War II and the Korean War. It was great to hear their stories. I only wish I had recorded more of them.


I am honored to have known Ray Schulte, the founder of the Clown Band. I was equally honored to have marched down the street during the “Big George years.” For 60-some-years George was the street leader and announcer of the band. Though he still participates, his son, George C., now does most of the street leading and announcing.


Today, I serve the band as its Treasurer. I am only the third person to have held that title. Bobby Pinkerton spent about 50 years in the position and I have held it for the last four years. Bobby’s shoes were big ones to fill and I have a feeling I will be holding the position for about as many years (for some reason nobody ever wants to run for treasurer!).


The band begins its performance season on Saturday, March 17 when it plays for the Clare Irish Festival, always a good time. 

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