I was reading the Daily Post the other day and their prompt was “We got the beat.” The prompt ask if you ever played in a band. I thought about the prompt and decided to write a story about the Bird’s Dairyland Band.
Fred and Ann Bird were married in 1937. They lived in western Wisconsin on a dairy farm and raised a family of six boys. To hear the tales of their adventures is for another posting, but todays post is about “We got the beat”, and did they have the beat! These six boys formed a small family polka band that would play in small dance halls and bars dotting western Wisconsin in the 50’s and 60’s. They were also called upon by many couples to play for their wedding dance in the days before DJ music. The family would do the evening milking and chores then would load the instruments in the band box on top of the old Chrysler, load up the family and head off to the dance hall. The boys would fill the dance hall with polkas and waltzes while Fred and Ann danced the night away to the music of their sons.
The oldest was Mel and he was the tuba player. Then it was Bill and he played the trombone. Bob was on saxophone with Keith keeping the melody on the accordion. The dance beat was kept by Gary on the drums. If you are keeping score one person is missing and that would be Dale the trumpet player and he joined he band a few years later.
As the boys matured Mel left the band due to jobs and his own family, so their cousin Larry joined the band playing the tuba. These first two pictures were on their dance posters advertising their upcoming dances at the dance halls. As I looked at these pictures the instruments are the same and the same music stands are still brought out for special performances.
In the mid 60’s the band did less and less dances. The boys were getting married and having families of their own. Some moved miles away and made getting together a little more difficult. When there was a special family gathering they would strike up the band to let the next generation enjoy the music. They would also be the entertainment at the annual family reunion.
Today the boys are in their 60’s and 70’s and still are asked to preform for special occasions. Some of the most recent performances were at Bill’s wedding in 1999 when he was remarried. Again they reunited in 2010 for the sequential for the town of Boyceville. As a cousin put it on Facebook, ” you know its a big deal when Boyceville closes Main Street for the Bird boys to play for a street dance.” They played at the centennial celebration in 1960 and were able to play 50 years latter. They commented if the town wanted them the preform at the bicentennial they would want to be paid up front with a no refund clause.
Music was a part of this family and it continues thru the younger generations.