Anoka County History: Anoka City Band remembered

Music (then…now…again…and forever)

The bandstand located in Anoka near the intersection of First and Main, circa the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Anoka County Historical Society
The bandstand located in Anoka near the intersection of First and Main, circa the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Anoka County Historical Society

With the news that the Minnesota Orchestra is now back in business after this long year of negotiations those of you who enjoy classical music can hear them again at Orchestra Hall.

Being a musician myself, playing drums since 1938, it made me think a lot about music appreciation.

My mother loved old time music, which she called hillbilly music. My dad, after the big meal on Sunday noon, always lay on the davenport  so he could listen to the New York Symphony on WCCO Radio — and he snored all the way through it

Today, there are so many categories of music to choose from.

Comcast has a music selection of over 30 channels — including about 10 different rock styles.

I have played at many different  events through the years. Even now, musicians have to know how to read the crowd in order to please everyone. That can be hard to do.

Here is one example. We played several times for the Anoka Halloween Orange Tie Ball. This event is a fundraiser for the young ladies known as the Anoka Ambassadors.

After playing two hours of jazz and swing for dancing, we played one rock song for the young ladies.

An older lady came up to the dance stand and asked, “Why can’t you play something for us instead of that awful rock music?”

You just cannot win them all. Everyone has their favorites.

Now for the historic part. In the late 1920s, my dad loaded all of us into the 1927 Studebaker and drove to Bridge Square by the Rum River to listen to the Anoka City Band, led by Ted Veight.

They played for the Saturday night band concert.

We kids always fought about who got to sit on dad’s lap so we could toot the horn, which was done by all the cars after each rendition.

I can still hear them now….toot toot, beep beep, honk honk, ahooga ahooga. Well, you know what I mean.

I tried to tell my little sisters, Norma and Rita, that girls did not know how to push the horn button because girls did not know how to drive.

Our older sister, Peggy, always settled it because she was the boss. She always ruled in favor of Norma and Rita, of course.

The original bandstand sat on top of the old scale house that was used to weigh farmer’s crops.

It was torn down in the late 1930s and a new one was built closer to the river. That one was torn down in the mid 1970s and was later duplicated in lower Riverside Park.

John Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Music on East Main in Anoka, played there at the final concert before it was torn down.

The bandstand is still there and is now used to shelter picnic tables.

Today, Coon Rapids has great musical performances at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

Ramsey has a new venue near its city hall. Blaine has a spot near their city hall too.

Anoka has a great program of musical performers  every Sunday afternoon all summer.

Many of the churches in Anoka County have great musical events all year round.

The new park on the Rum River, just north of Anoka’s City Hall, has plans for a small stadium by the river for musical events.

I’ll bet the river will be full of pontoon boats when those performances start. I hope you enjoy your favorite music, wherever it is.

Editor’s note: Tom Ward serves on the board of the Anoka County Historical Society.

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