For the first time in over 60 years, Sunday evenings at McKinley Park were quiet last year.
Typically during the summer, McKinley Park is home to the Marion Concert Band and its summer concert series where bands from Marion and beyond come to perform. But with COVID-19 bringing all live events to an end, 2020 has become a lost year as the Marion Concert Band was forced to cancel all shows that were scheduled.
This year, however, COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed and the Marion Concert Band is officially ready for another season of music at McKinley Park.
Recently, the Marion Concert Band announced on their Facebook page that the Summer Concert Series is back with a full roster of performers and bands ready to perform. To kick things off this season, the first concert at the park will feature the Marion Concert Band on Sunday at 7 p.m. Every week until August 8, a band or artist will perform at McKinley Park and it’s free for everyone to attend with donation buckets scattered near the stage.
While Beth Cumbie, treasurer and flautist of the Marion Concert Band, is excited to finally be back on stage this summer, she said it has been a whirlwind of events to get to where they are today. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of May that she received confirmation from Marion officials that the concert series had been given the green light. She, along with other members of the Concert Band, has since added artists to the lineup and spread the word.
Last year’s loss also meant that many members of the Concert Band had not seen each other since before the pandemic. That all changed on June 7 when Cumbie and other members all came together for their first rehearsal of the year.
âIt’s like family; we just clicked so quickly,â Cumbie said. “And it’s something for a group to be able to do that.”
For the concert series, there will be a variety of bands on stage, Cumbie said. This includes former members of the Ohio State Marching Band forming the group Trombones Plus, or The Geeze Cats, a doo-wap group from Cleveland. The Geeze Cats will perform on July 4th while Trombones Plus will perform on July 25th.
Cumbie said the Marion Concert Band prefers to have many different types of music to offer each week. While one week might feature a big band with trombones and saxophones, other weeks might feature bluegrass twang with banjos and guitars. Not only does this keep the concert series fresh, it also helps attract different audiences who are into different genres of music, Cumbie said.
Cumbie recommends that visitors bring something comfortable to sit on; she said some bring sack chairs while others bring blankets for a more picnic style seating arrangement. She added that audience members are free to bring their own food and drink to enjoy during the concert. And if some don’t feel safe with COVID-19, or the weather doesn’t allow it, Cumbie said people were even watching from their cars and honking their horns to applaud.
âThe community they eat; and we love to play in front of them,â Cumbie said.
Cumbie also had some applause. She said the team with the Marion Concert Band have been excellent at working on the fly and making sure everything runs smoothly. This includes Bill Swihart who was director of the Concert Band for 36 years. Cumbie said that even on his days off Swihart still finds a way to inspire him to become a better musician and that makes him invaluable to the team.
Crumbie also thanked the various donors of the Marion Concert Band. These donations help the band to be able to add different acts from all over the state and offer them payment for their performance. These donors include native Marion agencies such as the Marion Community Foundation, the Marion Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Marion Parks and Recreations Department.
For more updates and information on the Marion Concert Band’s Summer Concert Series, follow us on their Facebook page.
Mitch Hooper Story | (740) -244-9935 | [email protected] | @ _MH16 on Twitter