Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Presidential campaigns with torchlight parades and marching bands

How many of my readers remember the Presidential Campaign of 1876? I recall the torchlight processions of both political parties prior to the election; the bugle corps, fife and drum corps and bands of all kinds marching with and playing for hundreds of men some carrying banners with campaign slogans; all bearing torches or wearing caps holding torches, and draped in multi-colored capes. I would lie awake at night listening to bands playing with them.
Herbert L. Clarke, How I Became a Cornetist (orig. pub. 1934; reprinted in 2011 by BrassMusician.com), ch. 2. (Clarke turned nine in September 1876.)
It was a presidential election year, with the campaign of 1884 just approaching.

Back in those times all bands were in great demand for torchlight processions in Indianapolis, the same as in other cities, and as brother Ern had become a pretty good trombone player . . ., he began getting acquainted with the different musicians with an eye to business. One day he came home and told me he had an engagement for that night to play with Biessenhertz's Band in a Republican Club parade.

. . .

We made the first parade and were immediately engaged by the Democratic contingent for the following night, after which we seemed to alternate every successive night between the two political parties. This kept the band business might good up to election day, as almost every night there was a rally of some sort.
Id., ch. 11.

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