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A time to bum around
Tuesday, September 06, 2005


In a sort of stereotype role reversal, the hobos will be helping others this time, sharing the bounties of the harvest.

Thursday will mark the end of the annual summer concert series for the Original Hobo Band Inc. of Pitman.

"It's our harvest night concert, where we always give baskets of produce away," said the band's business manager, Alan Weinstein.

This year, they're dedicating some selections to Elbert "Tiny" Warren, a member since 1963 who died Aug. 8.  You probably don't know him by name, but you'd recognize his big white tuba, I'm sure.  The tuba may be propped in an otherwise empty chair Thursday at the show in Pitman's Sunset Auditorium on Laurel Avenue. (Showtime: 7:30 p.m.)

It's traditional for the band to pass the hat at the harvest concert.  This year, though, the Hobos will try something a little different.  The money collected will be matched, up to $500, and will be distributed to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities to go toward Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts.

The Hobo Band will become 60 years old in 2006 -- 1946 being a year for notable births -- but it's not ready for retirement.  In fact, the band has a brand new Web page at  It continues to have success with its youth band series.  This summer, they had three groups with more than 250 kids for the youth concerts.  Where else can a kid get really good music lessons, a band with whom to practice and a T-shirt for 20 bucks?

The Original Hobo Band just lost one of its most visible gigs -- it was one of the few paid bands to march in the Miss America parade on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  Now that the pageant left A.C. -- Well, Donald Trump IS talking about trying to get the Miss Universe pageant to come to Atlantic City, so you never know.

Alan said they're trying to come up with ways to celebrate 60 years of good music.  Years ago, they tried to work something out with Amtrak to play on the trains -- a perfect hobo-train connection if he ever heard of one -- but that never happened.  A road trip might not be in the cards, especially with the economy in trouble and fuel costing so much.

Sixty years, and they still have three of the original band members on the active roster:  Trumpeters Ralph Miller and George Menerey and clarinetist John Pedicord, all of Pitman.  What's neat is that Menerey's daughter and her husband, and Pedicord's daughter, also play in the band.

The Hobos are close to another area favorite, the Bonsal Blues band from Woodbury.

"Some of our members also belong to Bonsal Blues," said Alan -- in fact, Bruce Henderson, the president of Bonsal Blues, plays bass horn with the Hobos.  The two bands sometimes even play together -- as they traditionally do at the Wenonah Fourth of July parade.

Alan said the band expects to have more than 40 members on stage Thursday and they're "hoping to pack the audience."

When they collect for disaster relief, he said, they want cash donations, no checks, no credit cards.

"I hope we get a really big crowd," said Alan.

Copyright (C) 2005 Gloucester County Times.