NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The Lafayette Band’s annual Summer Concert Series, a summer staple for decades in South County, will begin on June 26.
Founded in 1884, the Lafayette Band is a non-profit community concert band that plays music from a variety of different genres. Many of the songs performed during the Summer Concert Series will be popular music intended to please a casual listening audience. The band’s repertoire ranges from Glenn Miller swing tunes to music from television shows such as “Game of Thrones.”
“We have different music, but we try to pull from previous years when people really enjoy certain songs,” Bethany Bromley, the band’s music director, said. “We look for songs that are kind of current. We have arrangements of some songs from ‘Hamilton,’ and some songs by Queen because ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ just came out. So we try to get music that engages people in what’s happening now, but also classics.”
All of the concerts in the series are free to attend, and all are held on Wednesday evenings for seven straight weeks. The inaugural concert will occur on June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the North Kingstown Free Library.
The band will then hold its annual Independence Day Celebration Concert at the North Kingstown Town Beach on July 3 at 7 p.m., just before the annual Independence Day fireworks show. The rain date for this concert is July 6. The Independence Day performance has been a tradition for the band.
“My favorite concert is Independence Day because we get a huge audience,” Lafayette Band President Jacquelyn Lamoureux said. “So many people come. The grand finale is ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ As soon as that song ends, the fireworks start.”
The third concert will be held on July 10 at 7 p.m. at St. John the Divine Church in Saunderstown, with an ice cream social following the concert. The rain location for this performance is the Church of Ascension in Wakefield.
The last four performances will be held at the North Kingstown Town Beach Bandstand at 7 p.m., with a rain location of the Community Center at Town Beach. The band’s July 17 Children’s Favorites Concert will feature music geared towards youth, particularly from popular children’s movies or cartoons. Bromley believes that getting children involved with the music is especially impactful.
“I love playing songs and at the end, turning around, bowing to the band and seeing that there are kids dancing to the music,” Bromley said. “When I was a small child, my parents would take me to concerts like these and I would get up and dance to the music. To see them dancing and appreciating the music we are creating is inspiring, and inspiring us to create more.”
The July 24 performance will be a joint concert with the North Kingstown Community Chorus. According to Bromley, the band and the chorus have collaborated in previous years, and she is looking forward to working with them again.
The final two concerts will be held on July 31 and August 7. These concerts are often “audience favorites” concerts according to Lamoureux, in which audience members may request popular songs from the band’s repertoire.
About 45 musicians are members of the Lafayette Band and. Lamoureux said that the band is always looking for new members, and there is no audition process.
“Coming from all different backgrounds, we help each other and grow ourselves and bring something to the town,” Lamoureux said. “Some people are amateurs and others are professional musicians. And it’s fun.”
Bromley also commented that the musicians are what make the band so special to her.
“I truly love working with the people in the band,” Bromley said. “It’s so much fun to work with adults who have decided to continue with music in life, whatever their professions are. They love music so much, it’s a passion they’re so dedicated to. And they’re there because they love the music, and it makes me love the music even more.”
Sarah Browne, a flutist in the band from Exeter, said that the Summer Concert Series has been a tradition since before she joined the band. A Jamestown native, Browne has been involved in the Lafayette Band for around 50 years, beginning while she was still in high school. Browne said that her favorite part of being apart of the group is engaging with the audience.
“I enjoy seeing our audiences come and bring a chair and sit, being outside the bandshell on beautiful summer evenings, just seeing the community enjoying music,” Browne said.
After the Lafayette Band wraps up the Summer Concert Series, Bromley said that the band will begin to prepare for the Holiday Concert at Wickford Village’s Festival of Lights in December. The musicians will also prepare some of its more difficult pieces to perform in next year’s Summer Concert Series.
Outside of these concerts, the Lafayette Band performs at assisted living and nursing homes, parades and community events across southern New England. The band also performed at the annual Armed Forces Salute this past May.