ASHLAND Time marches on, but sometimes it marches backward.

A free concert by the Bluegrass Wind Ensemble, scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 2, might make the audience feel that way. (Editor's note: It was originally scheduled for July 1, but moved because of weather).

John Johnson, director and founder of the ensemble said the concert at the bandstand in Ashland’s Central Park could conjure up images of days gone by, with a program of patriotic tunes, marches, popular songs and a little bit of light, classical music.

“Hopefully it’s a program everybody will enjoy and most of the tunes will be fairly recognizable,” Johnson said.

The 65-member band, which will include vocalists, started when Johnson, who now is the band director at Boyd County High School, organized it while a student at Morehead State University. The group was invited to perform at the Kentucky Music Educators Association state conference one year, which was an honor, Johnson said.

The ensemble continued for years, but Johnson said he soon got busy with family and his full-time teaching job, and there were no concerts for a few years.

After the COVID-19 pandemic seemed a perfect time for the group to get back together, especially with Independence Day approaching.

“There’s not much more American than baseball and a band concert in Central Park,” Johnson said.

The concert will include a tribute to Dr. Earle Louder, a world-class euphonium player who died this year. He had retired from the faculty at Morehead State University by the time Johnson was studying trombone there, but he still made an impact.

“He was always there, so even though he wasn’t officially teaching there, I feel like he was still there,” Johnson said, noting Louder continued to work with low brass and the euphonium ensemble. “I never had him as a teacher who was giving me a grade, but I still had him as a teacher.”

The tribute, which Johnson wrote, is called “Louder.”

“It features the low winds throughout most of the march,” he said. “Dr. Louder was a very accomplished low-brass musician, primarily euphonium, but also on tuba and trombone.”

Toward the end of the piece is a portion of a folk tune that has become a famous euphonium solo and Louder was famous for playing it, Johnson said.

The group also will perform a piece titled “His Honor,” which was written in 1933 by Henry Fillmore to honor the mayor of Cincinnati. Mayor Matt Perkins will be the guest conductor of the piece.

Johnson said he thought it would be appropriate for Perkins to direct the piece. He said he’s grateful for the help the mayor and other city officials and workers provided in getting the bandstand ready for the concert, which he hopes will be well received.

“We just want people to come and bring their lawn chairs and listen to us play some music and have a good time,” Johnson said.

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