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Does anyone know if the San Franciso Community Band.....?

is still operating?

I played with them in the late 70s...at the time, they were the continuously operating community band in the country, playing Sundays in the park (without George)....as I recall, they paid $60 a performance.

There was a time when many municipalities had working (paid) community bands; I attended a conservatory in NYC and one of the perks was playing with varied community bands in the New York area; typically parades or concerts on Sunday afternoon (for which I played piccolo...I wasn't about to carry a bari sax for 2 miles in NY summers)...and concerts in these wonderful city parks on Saturday nights. They all paid....I don't recall what the scale was, but was enough to eat for a week (of course, things were cheaper then).

We played one concert at a band shell overlooking the Long Island Sound....a wonderfully sultry summer evening. The piccolo section was very strong, with excellent players...and the capper of the night was Stars and Stripes where we were joined by the tuba player from the NY Phil....

Sadly...I think the days of community bands has left us...certainly as a paying gig...not that it was enough to make a living.



Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Interesting Anthony. I had no idea that community bands ever paid. That said, I'm with you, I wouldn't march with my bari for money if I had the option of playing piccolo. I keep joking that in my next life I'm coming back as a flute player! ;-)

I played in 3 community bands here in Canada in the late 70s. I was just in jr. high at the time, but no one in the band was paid--except the conductor of course. I wonder if pay was an American thing?
Even little Junction City, Kansas had a summer band that paid for both rehearsals and weekly concerts as late as the 1960s, maybe later. It was endowed by one of the prosperous early citizens. At some point the city decided to misappropriate the funds for other uses. The SOBs also tore down the bandstand. The pay wasn't much -- as I recall, a buck or two for rehearsals, $5 for concerts in the 1950s.

Edit: After another trudge through my convoluted memory, it may have been a total of $5 per week for one rehearsal and one concert.


Old King Log
Staff member
I recall pay for the Compton Heights community band back in the 1960s, but I've not heard of one since. Compton Heights is a venerable tradition in Saint Louis, although their formerly upscale home turf has gone way down since the 1960s.

(They (the residents, not the band) threw a fit when a couple of blocks were cut off when Interstate highway I-44 was cut through their area. The state heard their protests, and put an overpass in to connect the little sliver of the neighborhood. One thing led to another, and now Compton Heights is showing some blight as the connection is working against their original wishes.)

The Baytown Orchestra/Symphony, down by Houston, paid back in the 1990s, drawing on the Performance Fund. The string players in the area flocked to the place like moths to a flame, desperate for any source of income that they could find.

With Baytown, I was in the union from the very beginning but never was told of the Performance Fund payments until I caught a string player signing off on some roster and asked what it was for. Sneaky guy, the conductor there. From that point forward, he had to find someone else to handle the bass clarinet stuff in the annual performance of the Nutcracker.

The Paducah Symphony paid for some positions in the 1980s. Once again, people were driving from a hundred miles away, just to get the pittance that they were allowing.

And, I think that I was offered pay by a community orchestra on the northwest side of Houston, but the amount was so low that I just told them to put it towards stuff with a decent bass clarinet part.

(That was the group that put on that horrible Chadwick piece, with the bass clarinet part pitched in A, written in bass clef, but with Italian style notation and the like (which would have mandated using treble clef). Mr. Chadwick must have missed out on orchestration classes back in the 1930. Of course, I understand that he came out of the insurance industry, so what can you expect?)

I've occasionally been paid for non-pro rehearsals, but I was bringing some specialty to the party, one that was hard to come by in southern IL. I've gotten last minute calls where a group or a church was wanting to lay out significant money to make something work.

Pro work was another matter. I paid every group member for every performance that we ever put on when fronting Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra. I even got snookered by a couple of sidemen into paying them twice. (Of course, they never played for me again.)
Very interesting history; the SF Band was a union gig...not sure if it was green sheet, or there was a separate stipend (too long ago to remember)...though we did have to sign in prior to the concert. (Green sheet meaning half was paid by AFM and half by local government). There is something very American about hot dogs and Sousa marches played at the park band shell on the 4th of July.

Here in Louisville, KY, there are still green sheet gigs; each district representative can allocate some portion of funds for public arts; I've led a number, always with a small group. Library concerts and around Derby time, performing "American" music (no jazz) at the airport for arriving visitors. There are also a couple of community bands...they play concerts in the park and at the zoo in the summer...neither pay money. One is conducted by a HS music teacher in a suburban county and the other led by a professor from the UofL. All are staffed by volunteers.

I may be misremembering the pay on those New York gigs; I remember being paid, but it may not have been as high as I said....I do remember having to wear a band uniform consisting of blue pants with a stripe on the side and waist sized 38 (I was 19 with a 28 inch waist) and white shirt I could have pitched as a tent, along with a white pith helmet.

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