|Karl Lawrence King was already a famous bandleader when the band
committee from Fort Dodge's Commercial Club along with some members of
the band invited him to come to Fort Dodge with the purpose of rehearsing
and then conducting the band. He arrived on the 11th of September, 1920,
and worked with the band the following morning. The Fort Dodge Messenger
and Chronicle reported that the open air concert was a triumph from
start to finish. Karl King was soon offered a one year contract which
he accepted. Although this contract was never renewed, Karl held the postion
for the next 50 years. Karl King's first indoor
concert in Fort Dodge was January 10, 1921.
This is a view of the harness shop owned by Walt Engelbart's father-in-law, R.C. Beecher, who performed in the Concordia Band in the 1890's. The upstairs room was originally used as a shop for making harnesses, but after ready-made harnesses became available that area was freed for use as the band's hang out and rehearsal hall. Many musicians stopping through Fort Dodge knew that good company or a friendly card game could be found there.
click to enlarge (510kb)
One of Mr. King's first steps to raise the quality of the band after
coming to Ft. Dodge was to secure the contract to play the music festival
in Mitchell, South Dakota at the Corn Palace. That was one of the
largest music festivals in the Midwest. Prior to 1905 this celebration
was known as the Corn Belt Exposition. The Corn Palace itself was
the center of the festivities. It is an auditorium building, redecorated
each year both inside and out, with various designs and murals composed
of dried split ears of corn, milo and other grain in its natural colors.
Prior to 1922, the featured musical attraction almost every year consisted
of a week's concert engagement by a leading band of the military type.
In 1892, the first year of the exposition, Phinney's Iowa State Band was
engaged. This was followed in 1904 by John Philip Sousa's band which performed
a return engagement in 1907. The U.S. Marine Band came in 1909, Patrick
Conway Band in 1910, Liberati's Band in 1916 and that of Frederick Innes
in 1917 and 1918. In some other years foreign bands on tour in this country
were engaged, with those from Italy appearing to be favorites. The 1920
festival featured Hartís Girl Band from Chicago.
click image to enlarge - 660 kb
Listing of 1921 Corn Palace programs
The contract with King's Band for the six day engagement at Mitchell beginning September 26, 192l, totaled $5,000, but much of that money was utilized in brining in some of the best musicians from Chicago and Minneapolis to fill certain key positions in the King Band in addition to the regulars. The new Corn Palace auditorium (still the same building more than eighty years later) had only been completed earlier that same year just prior to the festival. Mr. King wrote the New Corn Palace March, that was later published by Fillmore in 1923, for this occasion where seven thousand people were in attendance for each program. The band was a big hit, and established itself as one of the most important musical organizations in the Midwest. C.T. Grant is the tall baritone saxophonist in the back left.
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