NORTHPORT, New York, July 10
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Walking in the footsteps of a hero can be a daunting proposition for anybody, but Don Sherman knows the feeling firsthand.
“He made it clear that this was the plan from the beginning,” Sherman, director of the Northport Community Band, said. “It was a bit like being Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
The “Willy Wonka” to Sherman’s “Charlie” is none other than Robert “Bob” Krueger, a longtime Northport resident and founder of the band, who died in September at the age of 86. Having led the band since 1959, Krueger left behind a solid foundation – starting with Sherman – that has enabled the band to thrive in his absence.
“The transition was very long and gradual,” Sherman, who worked alongside Krueger for 30 years, said. “Knowing that the band will continue to go on strong is a testament to him and a testament moving forward; truly demonstrating how that, when you build something strong, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”
Now, the band which Krueger built, is giving back its founder.
The 56th season, which kicked off on July 3, has been dedicated by the band to the memory of “Bob.”
“He was such a huge personality. He did so much for so many people that it’s very difficult to put something together that will truly commemorate him,” Sherman, of East Northport, said. “We finally realized that the idea of this band bringing people together from all walks of life – the musicians, the audience, the sponsors, etc. – [and dedicating this season] is the best tribute you can ask for.”
Every Thursday in July, beginning at 8:30 p.m., the Northport Village park will be alive with the glory of music as the band’s members – ranging from high school students and librarians to police sergeants and attorneys – gather to play music from genres that “everyone can enjoy,” according to Sherman, 52.
Also, this year, the band has partnered with Long Island Cares – a hunger assistance organization in Hauppauge – to raffle off prizes like t-shirts and CDs, along with a chance to serve as a guest orchestrator for the band on July 31 as it performs “The Stars & Stripes Forever.”
Guests of the concerts who supply a can of nonperishable food for donation will be given a raffle ticket entering them for a chance at the night’s raffles along with a shot at the grand prize raffle at the end of the month.
“When an icon leaves something that they’ve been a part of everyone gets worried: ‘How can the world go on?’ they ask,” Sherman, who has also taught in the Northport-East Northport schools since 1984, said. “But this season everyone has really pulled together and it truly is perfect.”
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record (Thursday, July 10, 2014; A15)