Musician T.K. Adams conducts the Newton Community Band in a rehearsal at Eastside High School on Tuesday in preparation for a July 4 concert on the Square in Covington. (Staff Photo: Lee Depkin)
T.K. Adams conducts his last concert
T.K. Adams has dedicated over 50 years of his life to music education in Newton County. He plans to retire from the community band following the July 4 concert.
(Staff Photos: SueAnn Kuhn-Smith)
The final Newton County Community Band concert led by founder T.K. Adams will be a bit of a bittersweet experience, for several reasons.
On the one hand, the 5 p.m. July 4 concert on the downtown Covington Square will be the culmination of more than two decades of leading the community band, where Adams took a collection of musicians from all walks of life and transitioned those divergent personalities into a melodic family.
On the other hand, while Adams conducts the 50-piece ensemble (18 of whom are charter members), he won’t be able to forget about his longtime friend Dr. William Dobbs, who in the early 1990s urged Adams to use his talents and powers of persuasion to establish the band.
Dobbs, who served as mayor of Covington from 1970-1996, died in early May. While he won’t have a physical presence at Adams’ last concert, Dobbs will certainly be there in spirit, and Adams is dedicating the concert to him.
“A couple of days before he passed, I dropped by his office and caught him coming out the door and he didn’t have his tie on,” Adams, who has devoted more than 50 years of his life to music education in Newton County, said. “‘Oh, you caught me without my tie’ is what he said to me. We had a wonderful relationship. A few days before our spring concert, I saw him and he said, ‘I’ll be there’ but he wasn’t able to come because he was in the hospital.
“The day after Dr. Dobbs died, his daughter-in-law asked me if the band would play at his funeral and we did that. We played some of the patriotic songs he liked so much. That was really something. … Every other week I’d go visit him and tell him how the band was doing. He was always so pleased with the community band.”
Adams, who will turn the baton over to Eastside High band director Alan Fowler after the July 4 concert, is also excited that his son, Timothy K. Adams Jr. (who chairs the percussion department at the University of Georgia’s Hodgson School of Music), plans to be part of his father’s final recital.
“As far as I know, Tim will be there,” Adams said of his son. “He’ll won’t play all the selections, but he’ll play a little to support his daddy.”
Buncie Lanners, executive director of the Arts Association in Newton County, grew up friends with the younger Adams (they were co-presidents of the student body at Newton County High School in 1979), said she’s always been in awe of the elder Adams, not just for his musicianship and scholarship, but also for his leadership.
“He’s such an incredible musician and, more importantly, he’s such an incredible person,” Lanners said. “I’ve always been amazed by his leadership in this community — his quiet and gentle, yet strong, leadership about what’s right, about how to treat other people, about how to have respect for people different from you — those were all taught through his music and his life lessons.”
Lanners added that the community band concept is a critical component in the creation of municipal harmony and she said that’s evident every time the group performs – the diversity of the musicians matches that of the audience.
“The community band is a microcosm of the macrocosm — there are no differences when everybody gets on stage,” she said. “With a community band, you can take it a step further because all it really takes is a love of music. It’s literally dust off the instrument you played during high school and come to practice. There’s no audition, there’s nobody saying you’re not good enough. You just come.
“That’s pretty powerful. Music speaks to all the ages and it’s really cool to see a mixture of everything from seniors in high school to senior citizens and everybody in between. They have trained musicians like band directors, but also people who have started to play again after 30 years away.”
Adams and his wife Louise (they’ll celebrate 54 years of wedded bliss in August) will be honored at a reception from 1-3 p.m. on July 4 at the Washington Street Community Center, where they have both been dedicated volunteers for many years. The concert on the Square is just part of the Independence Day celebration planned by Main Street Covington.
As is almost always the case with a Newton County Community Band concert, the program will include marches and sacred music and Adams said he plans an interlude where the band will memorialize the deceased family members of the musicians.
When asked if he was ready to play all night if popular demand required it, Adams quipped, “No, I’m not. But I’ll do what I have to do.”
Visiting New York City is among items on the Adams’ retirement to-do list.
“In October, we’re going to New York and we’re going to see a show every night for a week,” he said. “I’ve been to New York many times to see shows, but every time I went, my mind was in Covington. This time my mind will be in New York.”
For more information about the Newton County Community Band concert on July 4, visit www.newtocountyarts.org.
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email email@example.com.