The History of The Ohio Military Band
'The Ohio Military Band' (OMB) originated as a military band during the presidency of Franklin Pierce (1853-1857). In April of 1854 an independent volunteer Infantry Company (known as the 'Guthrie Grays') was formed at Camp Dennison, Ohio, near Cincinnati and became part of the Ohio Militia.
In 1861 the Ohio Militia was called into actions to serve in the Civil War. Through military reorganizations over the years the Ohio Militia became part of the First Regiment of the Ohio National Guard. The First Regiment was mustered out of service and disbanded on October 25, 1898. On April 21st, 1904, during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909), thirteen musicians of the former First Regiment signed a charter to form a volunteer social band called "The Ohio Military Band".
Charles Diss was the first director of the band and rehearsals were held in Cincinnati at the Brauer's Café, located at Liberty Street Viaduct and State Ave. It was around this time that the band began the long-standing tradition of 'Lunch' after rehearsals. 'Lunch' usually included rye bread, head cheese, onions, Kosher pickles, limburger cheese, and lots of cold beer. (We still enjoy the beer, but the rest of the menu has been updated!) As the band grew in size, new quarters were acquired for $12.00 a year at 210 Post Square in downtown Cincinnati. It was a fourth floor loft with one electric light bulb and a warm morning oil heater above the Cincinnati Silver and Gold Refining Company. Other rehearsal sites over the years have included the Koch Embroidering Company on West Fourth Street and then West Eighth Street, a music store in the Cincinnati Suburbs on creek Road, Wagner-Smith Electric on West Sharon Road, and the Hamilton County Civil Defense Headquarters behind Drake Hospital on Galbraith Road, again in the suburbs of Cincinnati. The band currently rehearses at the Shadybrook National Guard Armory in the city of Cincinnati. It is interesting to note that the companies headquartered there, the First Battalion, 147th Infantry, are descendant of the First Regiment of the Ohio Militia. While this is a total coincidence, we are in fact home again!
In 1908 the City of Cincinnati directory listed 36 concert bands including The Ohio Military Band. Of the 36 listed, The Ohio Military Band is the only band still performing. There are a couple of active members today that have been with the group for almost 50 years. Many have been there at least 25 years!
OMB Directors over the Years
After Charles Diss, other directors of the band have been Dave Davidorf, Fred Holmes, Elwin Tolle, Matt Quitter, Joe fisher (39 years!), Bruce Behlow, and beginning in 1996, our current director, Mark Hensler. Whenever directorship is lacking, our long time Associate Director, Everett DeJager, hangs up his alto-sax and picks up the baton.
Today's Ohio Military Band
The OMB is not affiliated with the Military or with any other organization and is supported through contributions from the playing membership and concert donations. The band performs for retirement centers, church festivals, dedications, and conducts an annual Christmas concert open to the public. In 1989, a recording of the OMB furnished by John Morris of the reed section found its way to Frankfurt, Germany, where it was a feature for two weeks on a local FM station, making our fame international! (At least in our minds anyway!!)
Friendship, respect for each other, great camaraderie, and a willingness to volunteer to keep the band performing has brought us to our 94th consecutive year of playing great music.
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