MOUNDRIDGE — For more than 30 years, Moundridge native Galen Fast has played upbeat, swinging songs with the High Society Dixieland Band.
Fast and some friends first formed the band during their college years at Wichita State University. It was the summer of 1985, and the group won first place in the Wichita River Festival’s talent competition.
The High Society Dixieland Band will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Cloud Nine Venue, 205 S. Avenue A in Moundridge. Freewill donations will be accepted at the performance.
The band’s members have changed over the years, but their dedication to bringing energetic tunes to audiences small and large has not wavered.
“Like myself, they all play in a variety of different groups and have a wide range of experience behind them,” Fast said. “...We’ve played everything from engagements to weddings to funerals.”
The High Society Dixieland Band’s performance is being coordinated by the Moundridge Arts Council.
“We’re just so proud of (Fast) because he is a Moundridge High School alum,” said Moundridge Arts Council President Lory Fisher. “We had talked about having him come for months. ...We just feel real fortunate that he is able to come over the Labor Day holiday weekend.”
Fast said his love of music was fostered by his parents and grandparents, who were also musicians.
“Most of the (rural Kansas) communities have a very strong music legacy that dates back generations,” Fast said. “...People were buying instruments because there wasn’t a lot of other entertainment.”
Fast has been a freelance musician in the Wichita area for his entire adult life. He plays the saxophone, clarinet and flute.
“I think Moundridge’s band program has been very strong. They always seem to land high-quality directors and that certainly was an influence on me,” Fast said.
Fast is a regular member in several musical groups including a church group and a Top 40 wedding band. He has also performed with Music Theatre Wichita and symphonies in Wichita and Hutchinson.
“What keeps music enjoyable for me is a wide variety of musical experiences. I would not be a happy musician if all I ever did was one style,” Fast said.
Whether he plays jazz, rock or classical melodies, there is something special for Fast about creating music for his listeners.
“The appeal of live music is it’s real-time — it’s live and you’re interacting with the audience and they’re interacting with you.” Fast said. “...I’m optimistic that live music will continue in generations going forward.”
This is the first time the High Society Dixieland Band will play in Moundridge.
“I’m very excited about it,” Fast said. “I’m looking forward to re-meeting old friends and new.”
The band’s style appeals to diverse audiences.
“Every generation can find something they like in it,” Fast said.
Dixieland music is not often performed live, Fast said, but its multitude of influences give it a timeless quality.
“Dixieland is the merger between early Americana music and the next wave of music happening around the turn of the century,” Fast said. “...It’s the roots of jazz and the culmination of ragtime.”
The band will play songs from the 1900s through modern-day hits.
“It’s certainly easy to tap your toes and enjoy yourself,” Fast said. “We are not a formal concert group. We are a group to listen and have fun with.”