Words by Jan Brand | Photography provided by Langdon Center Big Band
Ever wondered what the world would be without music?
From time immemorial, music has defined the times. As far back as little David tending sheep and signing to the Lord as he played his flute, we have historical evidence of the part music played in our lives. Before the advent of the copyright, tunes were often used over and over with new words. The sixteenth century Greensleeves’ lyrics were rewritten in 1865 as the beautiful Christmas song, “What Child Is This?” In 1831, a seminary student poke the eye of Brits when he rewrote the words to their national anthem, ” God Save the Queen,” and it became, “America! (My
Country “Tis Of Thee).”
The list is long and includes men who wrote great symphonies that crashed into the silence like waves pounding rocks. Peaceful sonatas that lulled us into serene moments like water soughing over stones in a brook.
Music can make you feel anything is possible. It
makes you remember your first love—your first dance, your first kiss and singing into your hairbrush, practicing being the next Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Carrie Underwood or Josh Groban.
Granbury’s investment in music is wide and varied, recalling great memories from the past and reaching for new opportunities of creative expression in the future. One group making an important contribution is the Tarleton’s Langdon Center Big Band. Their goal is to remind us of the great music essential to the making of America. The band gives local musicians an opportunity to play the music they love and the public a chance to hear the big band sound again.
Each generation left their own footprint through music. In the Flapper years of the 1920s, it was the Charleston. Swing and jazz dominated the 1930s, with great bands like Glenn Miller and Count Basie. Along came the war years of the 1940s, and music reflected the solemn mood. For the boys far away, Bing Crosby gave them something to dream about with Irving Berlin’s
“White Christmas.” The Andrews Sisters livened things up with, “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
In the 1950s America had growing pains. This generation wanted to “Rock Around the Clock” with Bill Haley and the Comets. Doris Day got a little risque’ having “Pillow Talk” with Rock Hudson. The 1960s started off calm enough, with “The Theme from A Summer Place” performed by Percy Faith and his orchestra. But things were about to change.
The Beatles’ invasion came to the United States like a swarm of locust, and a cultural revolution changed the message. “Sex, drugs and rock and roll” defined the ‘60s. Lyrics had hidden meaning, but those in the revolution could decipher the message; which was, “Nobody’s the boss of us. We can do whatever we desire.” Much of the music was done with immense talent and creativity. But
The band gives local musicians an opportunity to play the music they love and the public a chance to hear the big band sound again.
gradually the creativity and the message lost its sparkle and instead of calling people to reach higher, the music appealed to man’s baser instincts instead of his highest ideals.
David Talmidge, a retired high school band director, loved music. He especially loved music from the big band days when such greats as, Duke Ellington and “Take the A Train,” Tommy Dorsey and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” or Artie Shaw with “Begin the Beguine,” produced hand-clapping, toe-tapping music that reached into the soul of Americans. Their music lured people onto the dance floor. The country came alive with music. It inspired and expanded the American dream. Talmage had to do something to bring back that feeling. One of his main goals is to introduce younger generations to the music that helped shape American culture.
Janice Horak, Assistant Vice President of Development at Tarleton State University, shared his love for music. Together they worked to put a band together and advertised in area papers for musicians. In a short time, they had twenty-two talented people with the same dream, and that gave birth to the Langdon Center Big Band.
For a town of less than ten-thousand people, Granbury has more than its share of talent.
Ted Dolan, who plays alto sax, created the Saxophone Quartet, and functions as its director. David Talmage plays barisax with the quartet. The other members are Lauri Morgan and Earl Haberkamp. The group plays for weddings, funerals and wineries, among other venues.
The Pearl Street Combo is made up of members of the Langdon Center Big Band. They have performed for the Granbury Wine Walk, Taste of Parker County, New Year’s Eve parties at the Pecan Plantation, and events at Canyon West Country Club, to name a few.
The band continued to do well over the next several years, but Talmage’s dreams for the band were bigger. He wanted to spread music, good music, as far as their sound could reach. In early 2019 he called Andrew Stonerock, Head of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Tarleton State and asked if he would
consider directing the small band, with a big sound and a dedicated group of musicians. He hesitated for a nano-second before saying, yes, if his wife agreed. His wife, Carolyn, teaches the flute. His son’s name is Ellington, named for the “Duke.” The family is immersed in music, and Carolyn agreed he should be the band’s new director.
Stonerock was born into a musical family. His father Jeff plays the guitar and sings. His brother Matt plays trumpet, and he plays the saxophone, clarinet, flute and oboe. Besides the influence of his dad, Benny Goodman, considered the “King of Swing,” had a major impact on him. Goodman left his mark on music in so many ways, and one that changed the course of musical history: he was the first white musician to hire a black musician.
With a bachelor’s in music from Ohio University, a master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of North Texas, where he played in the Lab Bands. and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder, plus his real-time experience, Stonerock came highly qualified with the
kind of discipline and assertiveness to energize the band. Talmage said Stonerock brought a lot of new ideas, new directions and new levels of performance. Under his direction, the band is putting together a season for the coming months:
October 20 Jazz on the Green 2019
Christmas concert 2019
Valentine dinner dance 2020
Granbury Live Annual International Jazz Day
4th of July, Granbury Square Plaza 2020
You may access their calendar of events at: Langdon-
Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings
to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to every- thing.”
It’s always about the music, whether you’re at the Granbury Opera House, Jazz on the Green, or whistling a tune in the park while you walk your dog, music is food for your soul.