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Photo of child trying out a trombone
Two-year-old Anthony VanSchmus tries the trombone of Lawrence City Band member Tom Stidham, right, July 1999

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Lawrence City Band: Summer Concerts in the Park
A Local Legacy

What's the oldest musical group you can think of that is still performing? The Rolling Stones? Aerosmith?

The Lawrence City Band in Lawrence, Kansas, can trace its roots back to the Civil War, a time when most of Lawrence's citizens were originally from New England.

The band's first performance was presented on a beautiful summer evening in 1863. As fate would have it, that was the night before the legendary raid on Lawrence by William Clark Quantrill. Quantrill -- and his men, who included the dangerous Frank and Jesse James -- was a murderer of Union sympathizers, many of whom were abolitionists (people who were against slavery). Quantrill and his 450 Raiders attacked Union sympathizers, such as the people of Lawrence. The Raiders killed more than 150 residents of Lawrence during that raid, including all but one of the original members of the Lawrence City Band.

Since then there have been many different members in the Lawrence City Band as the group grows and shrinks depending on the number of musicians in it. Today, the Lawrence City Band commemorates that terrible day and continues the tradition of offering free music on Wednesday nights during the summer to the citizens of Lawrence and anyone else who travels there from far away.

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