The Band Played On


The Band Played On 17″x25″ Watercolor on 90# paper

Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures, or several words!  My son and I had set up to paint plein air in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. There, a “dry docked” retired tug boat sat in an oversized “planter” on the sidewalk and became my subject for that day’s watercolor painting.


I sketched and began to lay out my painting, wet the paper and had just begun to wash in a sky when….these guys came out of nowhere, toting folding chairs and musical instrument cases. They set up right between me and my tug subject.  Rude!  You know they could see we were there first!  Not a word; nope, they said nothing, they just took out their instruments, looked at each other and begun to play—–the most amazing brass quintet I think I may have ever heard.

I did not know what to say, so I just began to sketch them into the picture, painting quickly as could be.  Soon a large crowd gathered around them and us; the band never looked up, playing one piece after another. They played for over an hour this way, long enough to roughly paint them when all of a sudden the very loud signal horn for the lift bridge went BOOOOOOOOOFFFFF announcing the arrival of a Great Lakes freighter.  The crowd (whom I had not had time to paint in), turned and ran to the harbor channel to watch the great ship coming in and leaving us and the musicians alone, and the band just played on never looking up.  Later in the studio at home, I added in the ship and the crowd and finished up the tug which is all I had wanted to paint.

After the band finished I did make the effort to go over and meet them and find out what this was about. They were all professionals in the medical field and met twice a year for a impromptu concert in a public place just to keep their skills sharp.  They practice all year for the events but never perform publicly except for these two concerts.  After a rude start, I felt privileged to have experienced this, so I named the painting, “The Band Played On.”




12 thoughts on “The Band Played On

  1. laurie27wsmith

    Two beautiful paintings John and a great story to go with them. I always look forward to your posts, they’re warm and refreshing.

    1. eightdecades Post author

      Thank you Laurie
      It is always a welcome to hear good comments from you.
      I have been so busy it has been hard for me to visit others blog sites as of late, but I am trying to get back to attending to that, and I too enjoy reading and seeing the postings of others such as yourself.

      1. laurie27wsmith

        You’re welcome John. As I said, you have beautiful art to share with the world. It’s like going to an old friend’s place to visit and poring through their etchings, warm and comfortable.

    1. eightdecades Post author

      I did ask them why there on our laps, They only play twice a year and when they do they pick a spot, an exact spot, go there and play, they hardly talk only to select music or comment on desired effects to be performed.
      To them we were in their spot. I often wonder how many times I have pierced the space of others and offended them without ever knowing. Many people feel that the space they are standing in is theirs while they occupy it, we felt the same, but they played better than we painted, I yield the field to them.
      Thanks for commenting

  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    a picture is worth a thousand words
    the band playing is what I heard
    your pencils gliding was also whispering words
    your pleasure at the unexpected was then what I heard
    an impromptu tune, each note carried on the wind
    as you created magick with your brush before the music did end

    What a Beautiful work of art….and the story was delightful and made me smile
    Thank You…for being You and sharing your gifts
    Take Care….You Matter…

      1. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

        You are so welcome…
        I love this one, well I do all you work and the blue ships are my favorite, but this one has such a story ..fitting of your title….

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