Band Organs in Public Performance
Times change, and with it interests and tastes change. Can I expect
most young people to enjoy the band organ music that I love, even if
it is a wonderfully proper sounding instrument? I am convinced that
Folks come by and I play band organs. I see enthusiasm and smiles
from some of the old folks, less interest from the younger set, and
perhaps a few yawns from young people as they text away. Perhaps this
is a cycle. A few decades ago the value of Model A Fords dropped
precipitously, but now have recovered. Interest in 1960s muscle cars
has possibly peaked.
I have restored organs for commercial use. In each case there was
one individual affiliated with an organization with a high interest in
their band organ. In each case that person searched out a restorer,
and enthusiastically pushed, and set restoration in motion.
Now here is the kicker: in each case -- due to changes in ownership,
changes in management (including turning it over to an outside
manager), promotion or retirement of the originally vested individual
-- the organs rarely get played and rarely get even the most
The reasons are consistent with what others have written: the music
is too loud, the operator says the music is too loud, the operator or
somebody wants the organ to play rap, the organ doesn't play (which
it does), et cetera, et cetera.
I see a reality of just a handful of carousels with properly
functioning organs, working as originally built, and being run that way
perhaps one day a week, or one evening a week (with publicity of this),
and those and other carousels being typically operated to suit the owners
(and owners' pocketbooks), patrons, and operators as they are now.
Alan Erb - Engineer/Restorer