the Karl L. King Municipal Band,
Jerrold Jimmerson is still
Keeping the Tradition Alive
By Ian Schmit
on a summer Sunday evening and if the breeze is right, you may hear more
than just the wind, but the notes of Karl King floating off from Oleson
Park. Though King died in 1971, his music lives on through his band,
the Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge, under the direction of Jerrold
Jimmerson. Jimmerson has been a member of the band for 51 years,
and has been conducting the band for the past eight years.
He first heard the band much the same way people do today. "I grew up about six blocks from the bandshell and I could hear the band playing on Sunday nights. I just really enjoyed listening to that," said Jimmerson. "Even if I didn't go to the concert, if the wind was blowing the right direction I could hear the band."
Encouraged by his grandmother, when Jimmerson was a sophomore in high school he went to King and asked if he could play bass clarinet in the band. King mentioned he hadn't had a bass clarinet in a few years.
"Well about halfway through my first practice he stopped the band right in the middle of a song and said to the drummer, 'This kid's pretty good. See that he has a uniform before he goes home tonight," said Jimmerson. "I've enjoyed being part of that band ever since."
Since Jimmerson became conductor of the band, he has strived to preserve the traditions and history of the band, organizing the band and programming performances much the same way "The March King" had done himself.
The municipal band of Fort Dodge began in 1900. "Here we are 110 years later continuing those same traditions. That's a point of pride for Fort Dodge," said Jimmerson. The band plays 12 performances a year: Eight summer concerts (the last was on July 25), three winter concerts and Memorial Day. Those 12 performances are something Jimmerson could not do without the dedication the band receives from its members, he said. While not conducting the King band, Jimmerson has been the on-again off-again conductor of the Manson Meridian Singers in his hometown of Manson for more than 25 years, striving to keep the group together when no other leader was there.
After the Manson Meridian Singers had been together for 10 years the director left in 1981. Jimmerson had sung with the group for five years. "After 10 years in the community I thought it was an outstanding group for the community to have. So I said I'd do it for a year or two. Then pretty soon I'd done it for five years, then 10, then 15 years," said Jimmerson. Eventually, however Jimmerson left the group for two years. For another three years he again sang with the group, until, again, the group's director left, leaving Jimmerson to either lead the group or let it fall apart. Loving music as he does, Jimmerson is again leading the group for the singers' 40th anniversary.
Jimmerson has also taught instrumental music for 41 years in four different school systems, 29 of them in Manson. He still continues to substitute teach, do clinician work, serves as a mentor for beginning band directors and serves as an adjudicator for music contests and festivals. He has also directed the Senior Choir at the Methodist Church in Manson for 23 years.
"My life has really been centered and focused on music," said Jimmerson. "I just love being together with people making music, and I've never really wanted to do anything else."