Once again, Branford Patch reader Pete had a correct answer for me: the Branford Town Band was formed in 1949. That's not to say there weren't bands in Branford before that. The 's photo archive shows images of a drum corps from at least as early as 1893. Photos from the 's Branford Carnival Photographs collection show a group marching to the beat of a big bass drum in 1905, and a full marching band in the 1910 parade.
The longest continuous musical organization in Branford is likely to be the Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corps, which, according to its website, was organized in 1886. (The drum corps in that 1893 photo is very likely the Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corps, and there's an 1890 photo of the group on the history page of the corps' web site.) Their first public appearance was in 1887, performing at East Rock in New Haven.
With various musical organizations already in existence in town, how did the formalized town band come about? Part of the idea was to create a permanent, continuous group for musicians from various backgrounds. According to the history by Curtis E. Smith, which is available at the Blackstone Library, local Branford residents -- particularly immigrants -- would often gather together and form their own musical groups, much like the Branford Italian Band that featured in last week's post. Typically, the band members would meet in the homes of one of the members to practice.
There was also a large community band based out of East Haven, but in the 1940s, the group dissolved. The Branford residents who had been members of that band were left without their musical peers. When the Branford Community House was donated to the town by the Hammer family, to be used for recreation, the town's newly formed committee for Arts and Recreation agreed that the town should officially support a Branford Town Band. They hired Agostino Rosselli, the Branford Schools Director of Music, to be the Town Band's first band director. After reaching out to local musicians, Rosselli organized the group and gathered them together for their first rehearsal in 1949. Though the band did use the Community House to practice at first, they shifted to using space at the senior high school (then on Eades St.), and moved to the new senior high school (on East Main) when it was completed.
Of course, the Town Band is not history -- it's an active and vital part of Branford celebrations! Current director posted in the comments of last week's article with a reminder that new members are welcome, writing:
The current Branford Town Band is always looking for new members! No audition needed, just a love of music. We rehearse every Wednesday evening at Walsh Intermediate School in the band room 7:15-9:00pm Sept.-June. Also, Come hear us at our pre-fireworks concert at Branford Point on June 23rd.
Thanks to all the current Branford Town Band members for being part of a long musical history!