Trumpets, trombones and tubas and the soaring sounds of hundreds of brass musicians – it’s the Great American Brass Band Festival, marching into Danville on Thursday, June 2, for four days of performances, plus parade, picnic and America’s favorite pastime.
The free, family-friendly event celebrates its 32nd year in 2022 of bringing brass bands from all over the country in for one of the biggest small-town music fests in Kentucky.
New this year is a “Lunch and Learn” performance featuring festival-favorite, the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. Formed in 1981, the Stompers play New Orleans music in the traditional style, considered the foundation for jazz. Danville’s Art Center of the Bluegrass will host the event from 12 to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 3.
“The Stompers will give a history of their organization, perform songs and take audience questions,” said Missy Angolia, director of the Great American Brass Band Festival (GABBF).
The event is free, but due to size and maximum capacity restrictions, registration is required at www.artcenterky.org. Lunch isn’t provided with the program, but downtown Danville has lots of local restaurants for grabbing a bite, like Melton’s Great American Deli, home of that most American of dishes: meatloaf.
Also new this year is a vintage baseball game featuring the Georgetown Gentleman playing the Volunteers of the Ohio 9th Base Ball Club.
“America’s favorite pastime is a perfect addition to the festival,” said Missy. “Bring a lawn chair and enjoy watching these teams play by the rules and in the uniforms of 1864.”
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Centre College’s new Gary Wright Field, an elite baseball stadium at Fishman Park.
“Game organizer and Georgetown Gentlemen captain, Tommy “Molasses” Druen, came to the festival with the idea of the vintage game, having had experience with GABBF as a former student and member of Centre’s Alumni Board,” noted Missy.
Among a full schedule of activities, can’t-miss events include Missy’s favorite – Friday evening’s Bayou and Brass, a free NOLA-inspired street party featuring great food, fun and music in Weisiger Park and Main Street; Saturday’s Main Street Parade with multiple bands performing; and Saturday evening’s Great American Picnic on the Great Lawn at Centre College (Register here.)
“I am excited to have the Picnic back again after a rain-out in 2019 and COVID,” said Missy. “Fingers crossed for beautiful weather so we can all gather together on the Great Lawn and have a wonderful evening.”
The Great American Brass Band Festival is a free event, taking place in downtown Danville June 2-5. A free shuttle service operates festival weekend. Visitors have the option of purchasing a VIP Brass Pass for perks including complimentary drinks and snacks, reserved parking on Saturday and Sunday of the festival and access to restrooms in the festival’s air-conditioned hospitality suite. Download the Brass Pass here. Find the full events schedule here. See the music lineup here. For the latest information, visit GABBF’s Facebook page.
Festival Fun Facts
- Fourteen bands perform at this year’s festival plus one soloist – about 267 musicians, give or take.
- Eighteen different events take place during the festival, including two events on Thursday evening: Downtown Gallery Hop, 5:30-8 p.m. and the Great American Swing Dance, 7:30-9 p.m. at the Boyle County Public Library.
- Lots of regional North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) bands come from Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana.
- The band traveling the furthest to reach the event is the Storyville Stompers from New Orleans.
- It takes hundreds of volunteers to pull off the weekend festival, from stage setup and tear down to working the beer trailer and merch tent, doing Pepsi sales and trash pickup and more. Want to volunteer? Email: email@example.com.
- For those who like to plan ahead, the festival already has its dates set for 2023: June 1-4.
- Festival sponsors include Boyle County Fiscal Court, Centre College and City of Danville.