Each year, the Nelson Town Band awards several scholarships to help band members, usually high school students, attend summer music camps. The band voted in 2012 to name the scholarships in honor of Charlie Lang, one of the band’s earliest members and its first director. Charlie volunteered his truck to haul the band trailer in parades, and he grew Nelson’s most delicious sweet corn (which was consumed in great quantity at the band’s annual picnic). Charlie’s love for music goes back to his youth in Winchester, N.H. He came from a musical family; his Grandmother Metcalf directed the town band in Winchester many years ago, and his mother sang soprano in the church choir. Charlie started playing trumpet in fourth grade, and by the end of that year was promoted to the Thayer High School band, which had just formed with about 25 students. He played in the high school band throughout his school years, and took private lessons with Harold Bernier, conductor of the Keene City Band. Charlie was a three-time All-State musician in high school, and sang tenor in the chorus.
Charlie stopped playing once he was out of school (a common theme among the older members of the band), and in 1977 he moved to Nelson. The Nelson Town Band was formed in 1989, and Charlie dusted off his trumpet and joined it the following year, bringing the roster up to six musicians (Louise Dierker, Dave Patek, Bill Robinson, Frank Fiske, Rick Lothrop, and Charlie). Rehearsals were usually held in Keene at Frank Fiske’s house.
As the band grew, Charlie devoted countless hours to it: booking the performance schedule, running rehearsals, recruiting new members, borrowing and buying music, and playing at every performance. When the band had saved enough money to buy a trailer, Charlie and others built it from the ground up. Charlie has retired from the band but stays in touch from his new home in NC.
Every winter, just about the time of mud season, the band members gather to start rehearsals for the year ahead, discuss the schedule of parades and other gigs, and vote on scholarships and other budget items. Since the mid 1990s, the Nelson Town Band has helped dozens of young musicians attend music camp and sharpen their musical skills. Charlie says, “It’s wonderful to send the kids to music camp. It’s been so gratifying to see the band evolve, stick together, and be recognized in the region. And it’s especially good to see our young people grow as musicians — many of them now go on to play in college and beyond. They take it to another level.”