By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The Independent Silver Band will hold a special free concert Nov. 14 featuring Master Sgt. Jay Niepoetter, a clarinetist with “The President's Own” United States Marine Band.
William Reynolds, director of the Independent Silver Band, said the concert will be a “one-time only” event as there are no immediate plans for Niepoetter to play with the group again.
The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the First United Methodist Church in Mt. Vernon.
“They're going to hear a world-class clarinet player and he's going to play two solos,” Reynolds said. “I feel like I have some of the most outstanding musicians in our area. No one will be disappointed that they came. I guarantee you that.”
The original Independent Silver Band existed in Mt. Vernon between 1884 and 1889. Reynolds said the group was “immensely popular,” even playing at political rallies for presidential candidate James G. Blaine.
“They played virtually everywhere around this area,” Reynolds said.
In 2004, Reynolds recreated the band using area musicians and now the group performs throughout Southern Illinois.
The band uses antique instruments and wears period clothing to replicate the sound and look of the original group, Reynolds said. The band mostly plays period music from the late 19th Century.
Up until now, Reynolds has only utilized brass and percussion musicians for the band. But for the upcoming concert, he will bring in a clarinet section, which will make the band sound even more like the original group, he said.
“Since we have Sgt. Niepoetter coming in to perform, I've added the clarinet section and we're going to play music as the original Independent Silver Band did,” Reynolds said. “It would give (the audience) an opportunity to hear the Independent Silver Band as it was in 1884 to 1889.”
Niepoetter, a Centralia native, approached Reynolds about playing with the band in August, and Reynolds said he “leaped” at the idea.
The Nov. 14 concert will also feature a display of some of Reynolds' antique clarinets. The instruments range in time period from pre-Civil War to around the 1940s.
Reynolds said he hopes school-age children will attend the concert to “broaden their horizons” about what clarinets can do.
The Independent Silver Band performs about twice a month at a variety of locations, usually at historical events.
A few months ago, the group played at the Jefferson County Historical Village. At this show, the band debuted a song based on a poem written by a Civil War soldier from this area — Sgt. William Prosise.
The band's vocalist, Mike Launay, sang the piece and a copy of the song was presented to descendants of Prosise.
The band usually charges for its performances. However, one of the stipulations of using a Marine Band soloist at the Nov. 14 show is it has to be a free concert.
For more information on the band, contact Reynolds at 242-1537.