COPENHAGEN — A passion for music, a unique collection of rare brass instruments, and a big bass drum with “J.H. Raymond’s Cornet Band” emblazoned on its wooden rim have led a gymnastics coach from California to create a once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunity during the village’s 150th anniversary celebration Aug. 22 to 24.
Eric Totman, Stockton, Calif., has been collecting rare brass wind instruments for decades and has what he says is the largest collection in the world of instruments briefly made over a three-year period by Lewis Schreiber, New York City, ending the same year the village was incorporated, 1869.
In working on a book about the creatively designed Schreiber horns, Mr. Totman said he ran across Mr. Raymond’s band and reached out to the village to offer to come and perform a re-enactment of the band.
He was pleasantly surprised to find out about the anniversary extravaganza and that the original bandwagon used by the cornet group had been refurbished in 1990 and is on display along State Route 12 on the south end of the village.
The bass drum he purchased from an antique instrument collector years ago has a custom-made “drum saddle” waiting for it in that wagon, where it rested as the drummer beat out the background rhythm for the band while rolling through Copenhagen and surrounding communities for gatherings and rallies drawn by a four-horse team.
“If the old wagon could talk, it would have a pleasant story to tell of carrying the old band over country roads to fairs, picnics, political meetings, etc.” wrote Judd F. Hadcock, a former band member, for the village’s centennial celebration supplement in the Carthage Republican Tribune in 1969.
The bandwagon was created by the last carriage and wagon builders in the village, the Corcoran Brothers, and is mounted on “running gear” that is reportedly from the band chariot used in the famous Van Amburg’s Menagerie, or “animal circus.”
The wagon was taken to the Cooperstown Farmers’ Museum in October 1948 with the understanding that it would be returned if a museum opened in Lewis County that could accommodate it.
Mr. Totman said he was excited to embrace the opportunity provided by the anniversary and create a re-enactment specifically of the J.H. Raymond band as it would have been in 1869, at the time the village was being incorporated.
“I do re-enactments, but nothing this correct. It’s a unique and unusual event, for sure,” said Mr. Totman.
Musicians from the Syracuse-based Civil War re-enactment band, the Excelsior Cornet Band led by Jeff Stockham, will be joining Mr. Totman on the original bandwagon for the Raymond Brass Band using original Schreiber instruments like those used by the band at the time.
Mr. Totman noted there are only about 37 of the Schreiber instruments known to exist in the world today, most of which are located in museums.
With six in his possession, Mr. Totman said he is likely the only person on the planet that could make the J.H. Raymond Band come to life in such an authentic re-enactment, although he can’t guarantee his are the exact horns used by the “RCB,” as he refers to the band.
As it was one of the “limited number of bands that performed” on Schreiber’s instruments, however, he said it is likely.
Mr. Stockham will be adding his own Schreiber cornet to the mix during the celebration.
“We are ‘geeks” when it comes to the history of brass bands from this era,” Mr. Totman wrote on his online fund-raising page to help get the money together to cover the RCB adventure.
The band, along with the local resident Randy Nicol, who maintains the bandwagon and will be supplying two show horses to pull it during the parade, will be in period costumes and popular music in 1869 will be played both at the bandstand and on the bandwagon on Aug. 24.
Donations to help reimburse Mr. Totman for his expenses can be made at the village office or during the celebration at a designated location.
Read here for more information about Copenhagen’s 150th anniversary celebration or go to the event Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1723280474444314/.