Jimmy Motos says when former Jordan Vocational High School band members came together in 1988 to perform a memorial tribute to beloved band director Bob Barr they had no idea that it would lead to the creation of an organization that is still performing to this day.
The Bob Barr Community Band will present its Silver Anniversary Concert Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Jordan auditorium. Admission is free.
Motos, who plays clarinet in the band, graduated from Jordan in 1963.
“Bob Barr was a like a father to me,” Motos said. “He was like that to everybody. He was great band director and a great man.”
Former television anchor Dick McMichael, a 1948 Jordan alumnus, and Columbus City Council member Judy Thomas will be speaking at the show.
The band’s first performance was at a Jordan football game in 1988, the year Barr died. Current band president James Pate said more than 100 musicians from around the country attended.
The incorporated nonprofit band usually performs about eight or nine times a year, but there have been years when they’ve done more.
The band does not play just one brand of music.
Tunes you can hear Saturday include “The Symphonic Beatles,” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and “Midway March,” by John Williams.
Baritone player Gary Goodman said a favorite of band followers has always been the “St. Louis Blues.”
About 60 musicians will play Saturday. French horn player Bill Edwards said the total number of active and inactive players is around 500 and sometimes players will come as from as far away as Raleigh, N.C., to play.
Fred J. Catchings, who directed the U.S. Army Infantry Band at Fort Benning, is the current band director. Former directors include George Corradino, Jim Arnold and Bill Pharris.
“It’s an honor and a thrill to be part of this,” Catchings said.
He said the band provides opportunities for musical performance, artistic expression and unity in the Columbus area.
The band rehearses on Monday evenings in the Jordan band room.
Joanne Middlebrooks and her husband, Charles, have been in the band since the beginning. She does percussion, and he is a tuba player.
“When we rehearse on Monday, I feel like I am 16 all over again,” she said. “It is really special participating in something like this “
Her husband said the community band takes its performances seriously. “We could not go out there with Barr’s name and not give a high quality show,” Charles Middlebrooks said.
Band membership is open to all musicians.
Rebecca Bush is not originally from Columbus. After moving here, she heard about the band and joined less than two years ago. “Band people tend to be my people,” the flute player said.
Clara Dewhart currently plays trumpet in the Jordan band and her band director Adam Mitchell does as well.
When Barr arrived at Jordan in 1946, there were 17 band members. The size of the band would grow to more than 200 under his leadership and won state and national titles.
“It is because of the quality of the person and his work,” Pate said.
“He wanted the Jordan band to be the best and he demanded the best from every musician. Under his leadership, Jordan’s band was so respected that it performed all over the country. If you were a serious musician, then Jordan was where you wanted to come to school.”