Frank Barr, Bandman

Barr in 1897

The question of when and how Frank Barr picked up a cornet and learned to play remains unanswered in the mists of time. Yet at the age of eighteen as a student at the University of Arkansas in 1892, this young man not only played but would soon become the bandleader for the University Cadet Band. He would go on to direct the University band for twenty years as well as recruiting youth for “Barr’s Boys Band” through the 1930s. But these were not Frank Barr’s only contribution to the community of Fayetteville and the surrounding region…

…[In 1921] The Elks Club, of which he was a member, agreed to start raising sufficient funds to pay a director and “give Fayetteville boys and men an opportunity to learn to play as well as to have a band ready for the many celebrations and events which a band is needed.” A month later, the Elks announced subscriptions of over $100 per month to finance the band. Barr’s salary would be $75 per month. The Knights of Pythias agreed that they and other lodges about town would be contributors. Barr offered several band instruments he owned which could be used, and County Judge Ernest Dowell consented to the use of the basement of the courthouse for evening rehearsals.

…[In a letter to the editor, 1928] “First, if you will excuse me, I’ll say most of my life has been spent in the entertainment business. At the age of fourteen years, I started teaching bands, and almost continuously since that time, I have been taking bands to picnics, reunions, playing for fairs here, and years ago I played for several fairs held at Rogers and Berryville. For three seasons I managed a Chautauqua here. For 11 years I ran a picture show in Fayetteville and during that time had shows in 14 different towns in Northwest Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. I merely give this to show that if anyone is in a position to know what the public as a whole want in the line of entertainment, I am.”

From The Music Men of Turn-of-the-Century Fayetteville. Available in paperback, $19.95. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BGNCCZ46