History of the Old Dam Community Band

Newburgh, Indiana

Edited by John W. Powell

This history of the Old Dam Community Band has been prepared to help others who may try such a venture and to preserve the memories of those who worked and played with this group. We will first review the history of community bands in this country and then begin to describe the progress of development of this band. You will find the names of three combos . The Old Dam Community Band (ODCB) is the basic concert band. The Water Street Brass Band was a small group that performed polkas and German music in 2000. This later became the Little Old Dam Band (LODB) which plays Dixieland and other nostalgic selections.

History of Community Bands in the United States

In the 1880s and 1890s community bands numbered in the tens of thousands -- concerts in the park were as popular as rock concerts are today. The earliest community bands in the US were associated with the military and evolved into business and community bands. By the beginning of the 20th century, many towns had a band -- there were over 10,000 bands. Bands were important for civic pride and town "bragging rights." They were a major source of entertainment. Even job applicants were asked what instrument they played. Bands were flashy and loud -- frequently dressed in colorful military style uniforms. The popularity of community bands peaked around 1910, when there were about 18,000 groups in the US. Now, even with radio, TV and movies, there is still a large number of community bands that rehearse and entertain. An internet site that provides links to community bands in the United States shows a growing list of over 1,200. Another web page lists 38 community bands in Indiana.

The Name

In 1928, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a lock and dam at Newburgh. This system served well as part of the program to keep the river navigable through periods of dry weather. Late in the decade of the 1960s, a new dam was built just upstream from the old one. When the old dam was removed, the control building and houses were given to the Town of Newburgh. When Dan Schultz founded the community band, it rehearsed in the control building. Therefore, the name for the group became The Old Dam Community Band.

Ten Years of Tuesdays Book

Yearly History of the Old Dam Community Band

2000 2001 2002 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014