A Brownstown couple was working in the garden at their East Walnut Street home Sunday afternoon when they heard a band playing.

It didn’t take the two long to figure out where the music was coming from.

And it didn’t take Wayne and Pamela Stradley long to grab their 3-year-old daughter, Karlynne, and head to the lawn of the Jackson County Courthouse to listen to a free patriotic concert being performed by the Columbus City Band.

“It’s soothing,” Wayne Stradley said of music played by the band of more than 50 musicians, including many from Jackson County.

His wife said she enjoys music, and that stems from her time playing with the Brownstown Central High School Band of Braves.

“My old band director is the tuba player,” she said of band member Richard Branaman.

Pamela Stradley played the clarinet in high school and took private lessons from Steve McGrew of Seymour.

McGrew, director of the Columbus City Band since 1995, said band members always like playing in the concert at the courthouse in Brownstown.

“It’s our first outdoor concert we play each year,” he said, “… and it’s like a natural shell (concert shell) playing in front of the brick building here. And we get such a good crowd. Jackson County people love their bands.”

McGrew retired as director of the Seymour High School band in 2001 after 32 years.

For Seymour musician Jayme Kasting, the concert was a first.

“It went very well,” the Seymour optometrist said. “The tone and everything outside sounds really, really good.”

Kasting played the clarinet with Indiana University’s Marching Hundred for six years before pursing her doctorate of optometry.

She decided to join the Columbus City Band about a year ago.

“Band people are the best people in the world,” she said of her reason for picking up her clarinet again.

She said there’s a good group of people of all ages and skill sets who come together to “make something special.”

Robert Luebbers, 33, of Brownstown said he saw the band setting up on the courthouse lawn on his way home from church.

“I just thought it might be neat to go see afterwards, and the kids just wanted to go for a ride,” he said. “I like it. I’ve toned down a little bit now, and I like the classical music more now.”

Blake Hackman, a member of the Brownstown Fund for the Arts, said the purpose of the event is to promote music in Brownstown.

“We have lots of events,” he said. “We keep changing things according to what the public wants. Certain things we’ve tried and they don’t work, so we drop them and we try others. But this is an annual event that everyone enjoys, and this is our largest crowd yet. The weather’s beautiful, and you couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

Other band members from Jackson County include Kristin Bear, Lois Bryden and Beth Slaton, flute; Ellen Mirer and Jessica Vogel, clarinet; Diane Brown, bass clarinet; Jo McGrew and Bob Strothmann, saxophone; Jennifer Richard, French horn; Dick Parman (and percussionist) and Ed Kern, trombone; Branaman and Jacob Gambrel, tuba; and Monica Doty, Ron Duncan and Doug Pogue, percussion.

The band will return in a month or so to play at the Jackson County Fair. The group also plays an annual Christmas concert at Seymour Christian Church.

On the Web

For information about the Columbus City Band, visit

For information about the Brownstown Fund for the Arts, visit

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7051.