Area residents share 'love of music' in Johnson City Community Concert Band

By Bob Robinson

   Once a musician always a musician. That's the sentiment of the 70-member Johnson City Community Concert Band who have been living a double life for more than 20 years.
   The double life -- worker by day, musician by night -- is repeated in Elizabethton, Newport, Kingsport, Johnson City, Greeneville, Bristol and Gate City, Va., as band members trek from their homes to the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Campus to sharpen their musical repertoire.
   The band is scheduled to present its Fall Concert on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m., at Milligan College's Seeger Chapel.
   Veterans will be saluted in a musical selection from the movie "Patriot" and "Dedicatory Overture," which will be dedicated to the men and women in the U.S. military.
   A two-hour practice session is held each Monday, beginning at 7 p.m., in the Music Hall at ETSU. Band members put their musical "magic" to work to blend one of the most serene sounds found in Northeast Tennessee.
   Sherrell Heaton, a tuba player from Elizabethton, "loves to play the horn," something he has been doing since the 1950s when he attended Elizabethton High School.
   Other band members from Elizabethton are Lindon Hamrick (trombone); his son, Lin (baritone); and, Lee Ruffin, band director at Happy Valley High School (trumpet) and president of the non-profit Johnson City Community Concert Band organization.
   Paul Hinman, director of ETSU bands, has been conducting the Johnson City Community Concert Band more than 20 years. He selects the music and rehearses the band.
   After Veterans Day, the band will begin preparations for its Christmas concert.
   "Most people join the band for their own enjoyment. They work real hard. It is a positive escape from a busy work schedule.
   "There are hundreds more out there who move in and out of the community daily. We would be happy to have them join us," Hinman said.
   ETSU and Milligan College provide facilities for the community band to practice and perform.
   Anyone wishing to donate old instruments to the community concert band may do so by dropping them off at Hinman's office at the ETSU Music Building or by contacting Ruffin at Happy Valley High School, Hinman said.
   A doctor from Kingsport, who is also a member of the band, developed their Web site. It may be found at
   In addition to the Veterans Day concert, the Johnson City Community Concert Band is scheduled to perform Dec. 9, 3 p.m., at Milligan College, Seeger Chapel; Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., at Central Baptist Church, Johnson City; March 24, 3 p.m., at Milligan College, Seeger Chapel; and May 27, 3 p.m., at Milligan College, Seeger Chapel.