The tradition of community bands in Easton can be traced back to at least 1824, when Pomp’s Cornet Band (later the Easton Band) played for General Marquis de Lafayette during his tour of America. Over the next century, the city of Easton was home to numerous musical performance groups. Future research may provide a link between at least one of these groups and today’s Easton Municipal Band; however, the band’s documented history begins in 1926, with the founding of the Brown and Lynch Post #9 American Legion Trumpet and Drum Corps.
The original corps boasted 75 members from the Brown and Lynch American Legion Post, which had been established in 1920 and housed at 337 Ferry Street in Easton. Its first public appearance took place on August 21, 1926, in Easton’s Centre Square. The Brown and Lynch Drum Corps was originally led by Corp Commander Charles W. Neumoyer, followed by Anthony Lucchetti, who saw the band through its transition from a drum corps to a band in the 1930s. He continued to direct the band until 1958.
Unfortunately, in October 1974, a fire destroyed the Brown and Lynch Post, then housed on Northampton Street, and the band lost its records, much of its library, instruments, uniforms and equipment. The members, led by president John Falcone, endeavored to keep the band going. They even managed to march in the Easton Halloween Parade later that month. Funds and help were forthcoming from the community and the band was able to have a full summer concert season in 1975.
A major supporter of the band’s recovery was the Easton Moose Lodge on South 4th Street, who provided a rent-free facility for storage and rehearsals. In 1976, the band agreed to affiliate with The Moose Lodge and rename itself The Easton Moose Band. From 1976 through 1987, the band had a most successful run, participating in many parades and holding concerts throughout the community. The Peace Candle lighting, Heritage Day and concerts at Riverside Park and Meuser Park were among the many venues. In 1987, the Moose Lodge closed and the band was again without a home.
After the closing of the Moose Lodge, the band found rehearsal and storage space at the YWCA on North 3rd Street. Not wanting to struggle with any more name changes, another set of bylaws was adopted, and the band began its current era as the Easton Municipal Band. Director Gerald Bender, a music teacher in the Easton School District, arranged a move to the Easton Middle School at 12th and Northampton Streets.
The band gained permission from the city to use the name; however, it was not recognized by the city officially until 1996. Through the efforts of Band President Robert Schaller and Director Olwen Bougher, Mayor Thomas Goldsmith recognized the band as the Official Band of the City of Easton.
The Easton Municipal Band is proud to be the last existing concert band in our community. Since the 19th century, some 14 bands were organized, but were unable to sustain operations. Among these were The Tredwell Band, Ingersoll-Rand Band, The Commonwealth Band, The Elks Band, Charlie Porello’s Triple City Band and, most notably, The Easton Band. The latter band was directed by nationally-renowned Easton native, Thomas Coates, who became its leader sometime before 1850.
Currently, the band is directed by Albert J. Shimkus, Jr. and rehearses at the Twin Rivers Music Store on Palmer Street in Wilson Borough.
Be it appearances at the Peace Candle Lighting, or concerts at Meuser or Riverside Parks and beyond, we are proud to carry on the tradition of Easton’s community concert bands.
Compiled and researched by Harry Koch, March 2017, with additions by Sarah J. Mitchell
Do you have information about the history of the Easton Municipal Band, or one of its predecessors?
Due to the losses sustained during the 1974 fire, the Easton Municipal Band is always looking for photos, records and other memorabilia to fill in our past. If you have information to share, please use our Contact form to get in touch.