More than 40 years after playing trombone at Virginia Tech University, Bob Amos is still at it.
The 64-year-old Charlotte resident is among the original members of the Matthews Concert Band, still making music with the same trombone he used during his college days. Then, he performed in the 1963 Inauguration Parade for President Johnson. He favors Broadway musicals and big band music.
Matthews Concert Band, launched in 2001 as the South Charlotte Community Band, has called Matthews home since 2003 and now includes more than 50 musicians from all walks of life and ages ranging from recent high school graduates to retirees. Their concerts always are free and open to the public. The group will host its last concert of the season May 20 at the Matthews Community Center.
The band meets every Monday evening for practice, and offers four free concerts a year. Preparing for its final concert of the season, the band has been working on a special rendition of “Casey at the Bat,” that will feature narration by well-known radio host, Ken Conrad, previously of the Charlotte “oldies” station, WOLS-FM. Other compositions in the program include various selections from Duke Ellington and a Blues Brothers melody.
“I enjoy playing an instrument and performing with other individuals who share the love of making music,” said Amos, one of six original band members still active with the group.
A musical melting pot of sorts, the band was created to offer local musicians an outlet to continue their pursuit of music after their high school or college careers ended. They began with just 15 members, doubling in size in the first two months.
After performing their first concert at the Cypress Retirement Community of Charlotte, the group has performed at concert venues across the region, including local churches and Matthews’ Stumptown Park. Today the group plays, rent free, at the Matthews Community Center.
Director Michael Soltys, who has been with the group since 2003, enjoys the mixture of musicians in his midst. When Soltys was asked by a former student and current band member Jennifer Register of Charlotte to get involved with the group after retiring from his position as band director at East Mecklenburg High School, he couldn’t say no.
“It is a great mix of musicians, from all different areas,” he said.
Soltys has received a host of accolades, including the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Award of Excellence, the National Band Association Citation of Excellence, the American School Band Directors Association Stanbury Award for North Carolina and has directed the North Carolina All State Honors Band. Dedicated to music, Soltys enjoys turning anyone into a musician and creating performances that entertain everyone.
Matthews Concert Band will perform its final concert of the season at 7:30 p.m., May 20 at the Matthews Community Center, 100 E. McDowell St. Admission is free.