BANGOR, Maine — Some of those who attended the Downeast Dixieland Band’s third annual Labor Day Concert on Sunday came out specifically to hear the spirited jazzy blues music, some were drawn by the toe-tapping sounds and others were “groupies,” there to support the band.
“I was taking the dog for a walk and I thought, ‘Where is that music coming from?’” said Bangor resident Virginia Fournier, who was out with Pixel, her Yorkshire terrier.
“The music is from my time,” she said. “This is lovely.”
The Downeast Dixieland Band has played traditional Dixieland favorites for more than 30 years and for the past 16 summers has played between races at Bangor Raceway.
“The blues is a wonderful genre of music,” cornet player Hal Wheeler said in between songs. “To me, the blues are kind of like a tide — they speak to you sadly and bring you a strange kind of joy.”
Dennis and Delia Michaud, also of Bangor, read about the concert in the Bangor Daily News and decided to stop by. The couple set up their own folding chairs in the back of the small audience.
Delia Michaud is from Argentina and had never heard Dixieland music, which is a style of jazz that developed around the turn of the 20th century in New Orleans and combines horns with piano and percussion.
“It’s new to me,” she said. “It’s nice.”
“She’s familiar with jazz, but Dixieland is new to her,” her husband said. “Compared to jazz, this one is a little more spirited.”
The small audience consisted mostly of older folks, but two youngsters and their mom also sat down to listen. That was until McMahon brothers Leo, 5, and Byron, 4, couldn’t hold back their energy and began running around the Main Street park, sword-fighting with sticks.
“I’m always looking for something I can do to go out,” said their mom, Amber McMahon. “They’re rambunctious. This way they can still hear the music and run around.”
Compared to the last week, temperatures on Sunday were lower as the band began to play on the Bass Park Bandstand on Sunday afternoon, and a couple of people could be seen listening to the music from the comfort of their cars.
Wheeler thanked the Bangor Daily News, Bangor Savings Bank and Hollywood Slots for sponsoring the event, and Bangor Parks and Recreation Department for providing and setting up the chairs.
Onstage with Wheeler were Bob Haskell on clarinet and soprano saxophone, Jim Winters on trombone, Otho Knowles on bass violin, Bobby Duron on drums and Gregg Osgood at the keyboard.
Orrington resident Margaret Parker, 74, was blushing like a schoolgirl as she spoke about her new friendship with Osgood, who is 82. By the way she was talking, it was easy to see she was his groupie.
“He has played since he was a kid, and he taught himself,” she said. “I think he could have been on Broadway.”
Parker’s father was a guitar player so she grew up listening to music and was first exposed to jazz decades ago while studying art in New York.
“I learned what good jazz was,” she said, adding she is impressed with the Downeast Dixieland Band. “I heard them play, and I couldn’t believe it. I think they’re terrific.”