Music City North


Lawrence Silver Cornet Band, 1872.

On the fourth Friday of every month, we invite one of Guelph’s most exciting musical acts to perform here at the museum. Our handsome stone abode, perched above the city, provides the perfect setting to celebrate Guelph’s rich musical heritage. It’s a marriage of classic architecture and new sound, the past and the future, tradition and innovation. Next week, we welcome Harpist and singer-songwriter, Shannon Kingsbury.

As we all know, Guelph is known for its music. After all, we’re home to the Hillside Festival, and the Guelph Jazz Festival. Our indie rock scene has produced such revered acts as Jim Guthrie, Gentleman Reg and The Constantines.

But did you know Guelph was known as “Music City” long before these groups broke onto the scene? (By the way, we’re totally bringing that moniker back. Nashville has nothing on us!)

It’s true.

This fourth Friday, take the opportunity to venture up to our City Gallery on the third floor, and learn a little bit more about our musical past. Indeed, Guelph has been a musical hot spot since 1849, when Guelph’s first band, The Sunley Band, played for the Governor-General of Canada, Lord Elgin, when he stopped in town.

One of the most interesting musical artefacts on display in the City Galleries here at the Civic Museum is this drum:


The drum belonged to a 1944 band called The Guelph Jass Band. It is hand painted and on the side are the signatures of the band’s members. The band was likely an ensemble and would have played in many of Guelph’s dance halls throughout the 1940s. “Jass,” is an alternative spelling of “Jazz,” and likely indicates that the band played a New Orleans brand of jazz. (They might have sounded something like this:

Posted by Dawn Owen on October 16, 2014