ROCKPORT — The Rockport Legion Band is not only celebrating the birthday of our nation tonight, but its own 80th birthday with a special performance — all the while welcoming a new co-director in Jim Davison, a long time band director who retired last year from his post as music director for the town’s public schools.
Davison will conduct the Fourth of July concert following the 6 p.m. parade this evening at the bandstand at Back Beach, where people gather for hot dogs and music while waiting for the torching of the annual Fourth of July bonfire.
The Fourth of July band will be made up of Legion musicians, students and alumni, as well as musicians from some of the bands who marched in the parade.
After tonight, the band continues its summer tradition of Sunday evening concerts, which kick off this Sunday.
Those concerts will now take place at 7 p.m. — rain or shine — at the Back Beach bandstand, where audiences of all ages traditionally gather. Many bring folding chairs or sit on the grass; popcorn and cold drinks are available.
The Rockport Legion band will be directed by both Davison, who takes over from Steve Thomas, and Jason Howard. Each will conduct four concerts over the summer season.
Davison is no stranger to the local music scene; he has been teaching music in Rockport since 1974, both as a piano and guitar teacher, and the director of most musical ensembles in the Rockport schools. He has directed bands in the middle school and high school. He retired last year.
“It’s been a delight to have the opportunity to work with these wonderful Legion Band musicians,” said Davison. “Every conductor brings a little of himself into a new relationship like this. One of my predecessors brought operatic overtures and arias, another brought Dixieland Jazz, and another introduced a wider range of marches and overtures.
“I guess that you could describe my music as ‘The Great American Songbook’ in style of PBS personality, Ron Della Chiesa,” he added.
Davison said he plans to bring music featuring American folk songs, patriotic, ragtime, blues and jazz as well as music from the Broadway stage and film scores, especially those written by John Williams.
When Davison conducts his first Sunday concert on July 14, the band will feature fellow music teacher and violinist, Nathan Cohen, who will play the score by John Williams for the film “Schindler’s List,” and then be joined by George Ramsden to perform Charlie Danniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”
If you go ... What: Rockport Legion Band concert kicks off new season When: Tonight, 7 p.m. (after Rockport Parade) Where: Back Beach, Rockport.