HARWICH – There may be no band time in Chatham this summer, but there will be in Harwich.
Health Director Meggan Eldredge has given the green light to the Harwich Town Band to start its concert season, interim director Tom Jahnke said. The band will be offering limited, socially distanced concerts in Brooks Park in Harwich Center beginning Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
"We have been working with Meggan in the hopes that we could salvage at least a portion of our normal 10 concert season this year,” said Jahnke, who is substituting for Director Peter Cobb this season. “Once Phase 3 of the Commonwealth's reopening plan started at the beginning of July, we watched to see what would happen. It's been a very delicate situation. We are all suffering in one way or another."
There are specific guidelines for musical groups such as town bands. The musicians will not be able to perform in the bandstand. Each musician will be spaced 10 feet apart from each other as well as 25 feet from the audience. Special social distancing signage will be used throughout the park as well as designating specific entrances and exits.
The band will enter and set up on the grassy area on the Main Street side (Route 39) of the park. The audience is asked to enter at the corner of Oak Street diagonally across from the Brooks Free Library as well as from the parking lot. Everyone is asked to wear masks and keep six feet apart unless in groups of no more than 10 persons.
"Following the rules is the key to a successful and safe concert." said Jahnke. "The signs will be there to help keep everyone safe. There will also be ushers to help people go to their specified areas."
There will be some other changes made to the usual concert format. There will be no “hat parade” or any sort of march around, but Jahnke said the experience should be as fun as ever. "We'll be playing a variety of songs that the audience is encouraged to 'move in place' like the 'Chicken Dance" and the ever popular 'YMCA,'” he said. Jahnke will not be able to use his typical conductor's baton with the band being spread so far apart, and instead will be using one of his much larger Star Wars light sabers to ensure his musicians will be able to keep the beat in any galaxy.
"Yes things will be very different. But what will be the same is the love of music on both sides of Brooks Park, whether you are playing an instrument or listening to the songs,” Jahnke said.
Harwich Town Band concerts continue every Tuesday evening through the end of the August. Concerts may be canceled due to inclement weather. For further information, visit harwichtownband.tumblr.com.
Jahnke is also director of the Chatham Band. Selectmen decided earlier in the summer to cancel Friday band concerts in Kate Gould Park.