McGill’s Community Band ramps up for its summer season
HOULTON, Maine — The sounds of summer are alive and well in Houlton.
For the past 37 years, McGill’s Community Band has delighted and entertained audiences every Thursday evening throughout the summer months with a collection of big band, swing, pop and rock tunes.
The band kicked off its summer tour Thursday, June 16, in the Houlton Amphitheater, playing to a good-sized audience in the town’s Monument Park.
McGill’s Community Band of Houlton is one of about 20 community bands statewide, and the only such band to be found in Aroostook County.
Organized in 1985, the band’s creation was the fulfillment of David McGillicuddy’s long-standing desire to keep music alive in the Shiretown. As the then-instrumental director of SAD 29, McGillicuddy dreamed of forming a community band made up of local musicians that would perform in Monument Park on nice summer evenings, as had once been done in days long ago by the Houlton Town Band.
Mike Hutchinson returns for his fourth year of directing McGill’s Band. Previously, he was a member of the percussion section of the band, but took over the baton in 2018. He also is the director of band for grades 5-8 in Houlton.
“We have about seven new pieces that we have added to our repertoire of regular favorites this year,” Hutchinson said. “I try to put pieces together based on what we have for instruments each year.”
He said there are also plans to do special “theme nights” during the summer, featuring music from popular movies and television shows.
Last year, the band was forced to rehearse outside and use special covers over their instruments due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. The group missed the entire 2020 season because of the pandemic.
Two former directors can also be found as musicians in the group. Kevin Mania, the RSU 29 high school band director, led McGill’s Community Band from 2014 to 2017. McGillicuddy remains with the band, but has long since traded in his conductor’s baton for a saxophone.
The first band was formed in 1985 with 55 members. Membership in the band at one point topped 100 players. Today, there are approximately 60 members who represent a variety of ages.
Outdoor concerts are performed at 7 p.m. every Thursday (weather permitting) in Monument Park in the Houlton Amphitheater. The band will also perform at the Midnight Madness celebration on Friday, July 1, and participate in Houlton’s Fourth of July parade.
The summer concert season comes to an end Aug. 18.
For information on McGill’s Community Band, visit https://www.mcgillsband.com/ or check them out on Facebook.