The show must go on

You can’t keep a good trombone player down. Or a director for that matter.

Seventy-nine-year-old Bob Meffert, a trombone player in his early years, has been directing the Marshall Municipal Band for as long as most folks in this city can remember. He has been director since 1983. But if you are old enough to remember, there was another fella before Meffert by the name of Leo Yorde. He directed the band for 33 years.

Longevity, however, is just old music for this band. It has been around for 99 years. Meffert has been part of half of that history. He also taught music at Marshall Public Schools for more than 30 years.

“Last week was the only the third concert I have missed during all of 51 years,” Meffert told me as he stood in the middle of the crowd at Liberty Park Wednesday night. He was talking to people just before the start of Wednesday’s concert.

It would have been the second concert of the summer, but Meffert was “passing kidney stones” on the day of the first scheduled concert on June 7.

“Wednesday about 4 o’clock it started what we thought was one,” Meffert said. “Another one came Friday. It (June 7 concert) was canceled because of a medical emergency.”

But kidney stones didn’t stop him for long. The iron man of Marshall music was ready to go Wednesday.

Cancer also tried to stop Meffert from raising his baton a couple years ago. Although he did admit “directing while undergoing chemo was … interesting.”

He also told the Independent in 2016 that “rumors of me stepping down are ill-founded.”

An Independent editorial in 2016 called Meffert’s run as director “incredible.”

But Meffert says the members of the city band are the ones who are “amazing.”

“This year we have a bigger group of new ones,” Meffert said of the band. “I think we have 13 new ones this year for some reason. This year we just happen to lose a number of trumpets. Four new trumpets out of 10. I think out five saxes, I think one has returned. Some of them are college kids and they finally have jobs.”

But Meffert said he never has a problem finding talent to fill out his sections.

“There is always people out there. I had more people call me this year. They show up,” he said.

Many of them have college degrees and five have a Ph.D., according to Meffert

“We have a number of people who play multiple instruments, including myself. That’s the blessing we have living in a community like this. These people are so dedicated. They just come and play,” he said.

But directing?

“Nobody wants to do it,” Meffert said with a long laugh.

“So I do it.”

So the music continues every Wednesday at Liberty Park.

You can follow Mike Lamb at Twitter@indymlamb

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