The Greenville Heritage Textile Band, under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore – head of the department of music education- was featured in the new ShowForth DVD “Milltown Pride”. The band has recently released their first recording and Dr. Moore provides some background and interesting facts about the band and its music.
Who organized the Greenville Heritage Textile Band and why?
The band has been a collaborative effort from its inception in the summer of 2007. The concept for the band grew out of my interest in the history of my hometown and its many bands. Many people know about the textile mills’ baseball teams, but there were mill-sponsored bands, too – by my count, over a dozen in upstate South Carolina during the first half of the twentieth century. When I learned of the formation of a new group called the Greenville Textile Heritage Society, I shared my research with them, and they asked if I would be willing to put together an old-fashioned textile band to support their efforts to promote and preserve the region’s textile heritage. “The rest is history,” as they say.
Where has the group performed?
We’ve been invited to perform throughout upstate South Carolina as well as in Charleston, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. We enjoy playing for heritage festivals and mill reunions, but we’ve also been honored to play for the South Carolina Music Educators Association and for several Greenville Drive baseball games at Fluor Field. We average about one performance per month. One of the highlights of our season is our spring concert at the Peace Center’s Wyche Pavilion.
Who are the band members and how are they chosen?
The players were initially selected through a process of blind auditions. I posted announcements about the new band around town and the newspaper ran a story on our efforts in the Sunday paper. Email and word-of-mouth also played a big role in getting the word out to musicians in the Greenville/Spartanburg area. We garnered a good group of about 15 players in that initial round of auditions and have since added a few more to round out the instrumentation. It has been a distinct privilege for the last four years to work with these wonderful volunteers who are passionate about music, history, and community.
What were some of the highlights and challenges of being in “Milltown Pride”?
We filmed the championship game scene on what must have been the hottest day of the summer, and we were out there wearing our wool uniforms! But I will never forget when the players took the field and we struck up the band. The crowd went wild—it was as if we had stepped back in time for a brief but exhilarating moment.
Tell us about the music on your new CD, “Textile Tunes” – (ex.: what type of music is it and who is on the recording, etc.)
Textile Tunes is a collection of delightful musical gems from the golden age of the town band. You’ll find some familiar tunes such as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as well as the never-before-recorded rarity, the “Greenville City Club Waltz Polka,” a tune published in 1872 and dedicated to the officers and members of the Greenville (SC) City Club. We have record of upstate textile bands lasting into the 1940s, so we included a couple Glenn Miller tunes from that era, too. In addition to the unique historical repertoire, the Textile Heritage Band is set apart from its modern concert band counterpart in terms of size and instrumentation, and this has a decided effect on the sound of the CD. Photographs and newspaper accounts from the early twentieth century reveal small bands consisting of mostly brass instruments with a few clarinets and percussion. So for authenticity’s sake, I have limited the size of the group to about 20 players, with one player on each part. Several of the instruments we use are from that period (for example, a 1925 helicon tuba, cornets dating back to 1895 and 1910, a 1916 xylophone). All this combines to give us a unique sound that provides the listener with a refreshing trip back in time.
How can one learn more about the band and upcoming performances?