... a rousing start to the holiday week-end
On July 2nd of this year the Mass Bank hosted an early 4th of July party for the residents of Melrose. The bank brought in the 9:29ers banjo band to entertain an audience of more than 100 local inhabitants.
Bill Best, the current leader, has been with the group for 20 years. He explained the unusual name of the band to me. Charles Nevitt started the band in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1954. The band members were associated with the local church and they did their practicing in the early mornings. A church member would usually come down and inform the group that it was 9:29 and they had to stop playing because the 9:30 service was about to start. Hence the name 9:29ers came to be.
The group started out their two-hour performance with a patriotic theme for the holiday, followed by a tribute to all our armed forces. American flags were passed out and vigorously waved by the members of the audience.
The youngest member of the group is Chuck Ebert. Chuck is 51 years old and a member of the Melrose Fire Department. Chuck is the kid of the group and is the class clown. This picture came about while he was singing Shanghai Honeymoon. The oldest member, at 90, is Reggie Muise, also into clowning when the occasion, or song, arises. Reggie has been strumming his banjo with the group for 30 plus years and he seems to enjoy every minute.
We went back to the era of George M. Cohan and listened to Yankee Doodle Dandy. Songs that brought back memories were Every Where You Go, Four Leaf Clover, and Baby Face.
Charlie Cognato announced the songs, singers and soloist. Brotherís Mike and Dom Cerasuolo on guitar and mandolin gave us a heart wrenching Italian melody. Joe and Mark played Some of These Days in perfect harmony.
Bank employees and a member of Judy Carvenís catering service served refreshments. The menu was chocolate cake to start, followed by the good old-fashioned Hoodsie, and then pink lemonade. The audience literally ate it up...the food and the music.
The Anniversay Song, Old Man River, Bill Bailey and so many more songs were shared between the 9:29ers and the appreciative listeners. There was a short break after the first hour and the boys in the band started all over again.
Peter Orlando's father who was music director for 28 years, encouraged Peter to join the group 22 years ago. Along with the banjo, Peter played a great rendition on the bones.
I have not listed all the members or all the songs but for now just know that it was a wonderful two hours of enjoyment for everyone in the hall.
The final song by the group with backup by the audience was Weíll Meet Again. I am sure this will happen as long as the love for music remains in all of us.
August 5, 2005