A tradition: Dickinson City Band returns to perform holiday concert in almost two years absent

Taking the stage for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Dickinson City Band will entertain the Dickinson community this Sunday for its Winter Concert.

Bob Keogh, a retired Dickinson municipal judge, plays his trombone with the Dickinson City Band during a previous rehearsal in 2019. The Dickinson City Band is scheduled to take the stage for 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in the Dickinson High School Auditorium for its Winter Concert — which will be the first performance for the band in two years. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Nearly two years have passed since the Dickinson City Band (DCB) has come together for a public performance. With holiday selections, a march and even cinema pieces, the DCB will take the stage this weekend.

The DCB will present its Winter Concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, in the Dickinson High School Auditorium, which will be free and open to the public with a free will offering available. Following the concert, refreshments will be provided to attendees.

Under the direction of Matthew Goettle — DHS band director — the concert program includes “Toccata for Band,” selections from the Broadway musical “Oliver” that is based on the Charles Dickens novel, “The Purple Pageant,” “The Minstrel Boy,” “Folk Song Suite,” pieces from the 1990 American epic western film “Dances with Wolves” along with more December-themed arrangements such as “Home for the Holidays” and “A Christmas Festival.”

With the coronavirus pandemic halting performances for the DCB in 2020, this performance is bound to be special for not only the musicians but for many music lovers in the city, DCB Secretary Treasurer Bob Keogh said.

“It was tough because we just started rehearsing last year and we had to quit,” Keogh said, adding that the DCB had to cease its practices once the shutdowns hit Dickinson State University. “It was just a downer because for some of us we played a horn basically all our lives and for others, they hadn't played in 30 years and they came back to play… We rehearse every week and so it's partly the camaraderie among the band, but everyone's excited to get to the point where you can present the concert. You get your songs in pretty good shape, so that they’re concert-ready. So it's a tradition… that goes back many, many years.”


Percussionist Priscilla Keogh, left, waits for her cue during a rehearsal with the Dickinson City Band in 2019. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

The nonprofit organization is known for its semiannual concerts, with one in the winter and the other in springtime. The DCB consists of approximately 35 to 40 musicians with mostly Dickinson members and some from surrounding areas such as Killdeer. Keogh , who is a Dickinson municipal judge, plays trombone and his wife Priscilla plays percussion. For the Keoghs, the DCB is a safe haven to explore one’s musicianship and mingle with fellow artists.

“So many people put that horn away. It’s in the closet collecting dust,” he said, noting, “ I don’t play very well, but it’s fun to play (and) I enjoy it.”

Some years, the DCB has incorporated string groups or the Prairie Rose Chorus to accompany them in concerts. However, this Winter Concert will feature solely the sounds from DCB members.

Rehearsals for the Winter Concert started in September. Once this December concert wraps up, the DCB will begin rehearsal for the Spring Concert in January.

Keogh said he hopes people will attend the Dec. 5 concert to support local music and take comfort in the sounds of holiday music.

“Well, first of all, I think most people like music to some extent and I think most people will have a little pride in having a city band. And it’s a good sized band, so it'll sound good. We all are in the business of supporting each other, and this is one way to support the musicians who work hard and the director who works hard and just to have a little fun time out,” he added.


Matthew Goettle directs a rehearsal for the Dickinson City Band in 2019. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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