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Civil War band booked to play Lone Ranger celebration

Dressed in their wool Civil War uniforms, the 5th Michigan Regiment Band is scheduled to perform in Oxford’s Lone Ranger parade Aug. 3 and give a one-hour concert as part of the celebration. (click for larger version)

Pastor Dave Gerber (right) stands with Rep. Brad Jacobsen at the rostrum prior to leading the opening prayer April 11. (click for larger version)
April 17, 2013 - The sweet sounds of the 1860s will fill the summer air in Oxford as the village council last week voted to contract with the 5th Michigan Regiment Band to perform during the town's Lone Ranger celebration Aug. 3.

Based in Novi, the 39-member band brings the past to life at reenactments, concerts, parades, festivals and other special events by providing an authentic historical recreation of the 1861 band of the 5th Michigan Volunteer Infantry.

Performances include music, instruments, attire, flags and customs of the era. The band wears copies of the wool uniforms that clothed the 5th Michigan soldiers during the Civil War. A color guard travels with the band as does a group of ladies dressed in the styles of the time.

Hiring the band was the idea of Oxford resident Rod Charles, chairman of the local Lone Ranger committee.

"The Lone Ranger story itself was set in 1869," he said. "From a chronological viewpoint, there's a tie-in there. Also, a lot of the Civil War veterans moved out west and some of them became Texas rangers."

Before he donned the mask and partnered with Tonto to fight for justice, the fictional Lone Ranger was a Texas ranger.

The band's repertoire of pre-1865 compositions is performed on antique and replica saxhorns and rope tension wooden drums.

The musicians play popular marches, polkas, schottisches (a partnered country dance) and waltzes arranged by the band's conductor, Lt. Col. Guy Smith.

These are the type of songs that entertained folks at parades, military balls and musters north and south of the famous Mason-Dixon line around the 1860s.

"That would have been the kind of music they would have listened to back in the days of the masked man and Tonto," Charles said.

"I have a CD of theirs and it strikes me as period authentic. I personally liked it, otherwise I wouldn't have recommended it."

Charles believes the 5th Michigan Regiment Band definitely does what it's supposed to do, which is evoke that bygone era and transport the listener back to a bittersweet period of both gentility and crisis.

Village Manager Joe Young indicated the band's $750 fee includes performing in the Lone Ranger-themed parade and giving a one-hour concert.

"We thought it would be a great draw for the parade," he said.

The village's attorneys, Robert Davis and Robert Bunting, volunteered to cover the cost of the band.

In addition to its fee, the band also requires a wagon for the musicians to ride and perform on during the parade.

The Lone Ranger-themed parade will take place along M-24 on Saturday, Aug. 3 beginning at 11 a.m. The parade will begin at the Oxford Marketplace shopping center and end at Church St. by the fire station.

Oxford's historical connection to the Lone Ranger is well established.

Brace Beemer, the radio voice of the masked lawman from 1941-54, lived right on W. Drahner Rd. until his death in 1965.

He performed in more than 2,000 broadcasts reaching more than 80 million listeners across the United States on 129 radio stations. Beemer also made numerous public appearances and visits to schools dressed as the legendary hero.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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