The Decatur Municipal Band is in its 159th year of continuous service since its inception on September 19, 1857, making it one of the oldest nonmilitary bands in continuous service in the United States and Canada.
Conceived by nine charter members, the band was known variously as the Decatur Brass Band, Decatur Comet Band, and Decatur Silver Band until 1871 when it was reorganized by Andrew Goodman, the new conductor who was enticed to leave his Columbus, OH home for that purpose. He served as its director until declining health forced him to retire in 1880. Although the Band was incorporated as The Decatur Band in 1885, it was commonly known as "The Goodman Band" (or "Goodman's Band") until 1942 when it was officially designated as the Decatur Municipal Band and chartered within the City of Decatur. After Goodman's death, the band continued with various directors from among the membership, until Robert Walter was hired to direct the band in 1887. He continued as its director until 1928, shortly before his death. It was during Walter's tenure that the Band received its greatest fame, marching in President William McKinley's 1901 inaugural parade as the Illinois National Guard 4th Infantry Regimental Band, performing the dedication concert for the Illinois Building at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904, and as guest performers at the New Harmony, Indiana Centennial Celebration in 1914 (Mr. Walter was found and hired to come to Decatur while he was a performer in the New Harmony, Indiana band).
Although organized as a nonmilitary band, the Goodman Band was mustered into the Illinois National Guard 4th Infantry during the Spanish-American War and became its regimental band. As a regimental band, it was mustered into active service during four wars: The Civil War, The Spanish-American War, The Mexican Border War, and World War I, when they became the National Guard 130th Infantry Band.
Today's Muni Band
The present Decatur Municipal Band, directed by Jim Culbertson since 1979, is composed of high school and college students and area adults from all walks of life, all of whom look to the Band as a serious avocation, or as a prelude to a life-long profession. These dedicated musicians play for a small remuneration and great satisfaction in providing high-quality music for the Decatur community. Mr. Culbertson is celebrating his 37th year of serving as Music Director and Conductor.