History of the Band
In the 19th Century nearly every small town in the U.S. had a brass band. The Marion County Citizen’s Band, “descended” from several such bands, has been keeping this musical tradition alive since 1954, when the group was founded for the Silverton Centennial celebration.
Although the band was formed relatively recently, it has roots in several town bands reaching back into the 19th Century. A trio of professional musicians from Austria and Germany immigrated to Mt. Angel, Oregon in the late 1800’s and founded the Mt. Angel Band; this adult band participated in early Portland Rose parades and remained active until World War II.
During the early 1920’s a boys’ band was also started. The Mt. Angel Boys’ Band could boast of nearly 60 members and regularly played at such venues as the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, the Portland Rose Festival, and Mt. Angel’s own Flax Festival. Several longtime members of the Boys’ Band played an important role in the formation of the Marion County Citizen’s Band, including the late Al Seifer. Other early area bands included the Silverton Trombone Band, Silverton Marine Band, The Steelhammer Brothers Band, The Hungry Seven, the Victor Point Community Band, and the Hubbard Boys’ Band, several of whose members went on to play in the Marion County Citizen’s Band.
Concert schedule from 1935
In 1954 Olfan DeGuire, a cornet player who had belonged to several area bands, organized a group of some 30 musicians to play at the Silverton Centennial that August. After the celebrations the band members decided to form a permanent organization known as the “Citizen’s Band”, a name chosen because members came from many of the surrounding towns, including Mt. Angel, Silverton, Woodburn, and Salem.
In 1955 Charles W. Yuki, a prominent Southern California musician who had moved to Salem, was persuaded to become band leader. Subsequent directors of the Citizen’s Band were Edwin Eyman of Canby, Glen Slentz of Scotts Mills and Jay Steele and Paul Clute, both of Silverton.
The band appears every year at events throughout the Willamette Valley, and has become widely known for the music it performs at Mt. Angel's Oktoberfest. Programs at the Gazebo contain authentic German arrangements of traditional marches and folk tunes, many of which are no longer available in print. With the exception of 2020 (cancelled to to the viral pandemic), the band has appeared at each Oktoberfest since the festival's inception. In 2018 the band was named Oktoberfest's official concert band and maintains that honor to this day.
The entire 2020 public performance schedule, as well as the band's rehearsal schedule were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. 2021 rehearsals begin on May 10.
Dale Sroufe of Silverton is the current director.