No one can say for certain exactly when the tradition started, but Bill Stevens, Edgerton, estimates his band has been playing at the American Legion in Gardner every month for more than 10 years.
“We played back when Gardner (American Legion) hired bands all of the time,” Stevens said. “Then they got to the point where they weren’t drawing enough money to pay a band, and I talked to Morris.”
Morris Eastland convinced Stevens’ band – The 4 B’s – to play on the fourth Friday of every month at the Legion Hall located at 315 Meadowbrook Circle in Gardner.
Although members of the band have come and gone, the tradition remains. Originally the four member band was filled with four men named Bill, hence the name – The 4 B’s.
“One of them died. And another quit us, but we’ve still got a couple of ‘B’s. We play a lot of different places,” Stevens said.
Gardner’s American Legion is still one of those places, though the band also regularly plays paid gigs in Lawrence and Garnett. In Gardner, they play for free, or a small collection.
“We take up a collection at the first break and just pass the hat, so to speak,” Stevens said.
The four man band includes three guitarists, one bass and a drum machine.
“One thing we do is get good compliments on our timing,” Stevens joked. “We used to have a piano player, but he doesn’t get to play with us anymore.”
By 7 p.m. on Aug. 27, the music was rousing and about a half dozen couples danced across the floor. Another dozen or so guests lingered over popcorn and pot luck snacks as they chatted while keeping an eye on the band and the dance floor.
The American Legion houses a club and two separate rooms that members and guests can rent. The 4 B’s currently play in the smaller room east of the club allowing dancers to utilize the Legion bar within earshot of the music.
Stevens said the band – which also regularly plays in Lawrence and Garnett – would love to have to move to the larger room.
“You get 50 or 60 people up there and the room fills up,” Stevens said. “But if that happens there’s space at the north side.”
The Aug. 27 crowd isn’t quite large enough to warrant a move to the larger room, but the dance fill is almost at capacity when the band strikes up a song for two-stepping. A large crowd also packs the floor for line dances.
“We just play for three hours. We have a country band. We play waltzes, polkas, two-step,” Stevens said. “We’ll play rock and roll, but the older people don’t like that much. They like to do the two-step.”
Saturday’s crowd is an older one, but Stevens said the band would love to see more young people.
“Just come and enjoy the music,” he said. “We enjoy playing.”
The band plays on the fourth Friday of every month at the American Legion in Gardner. The music starts at 7 p.m. and The 4 B’s play for three hours with one or two breaks.
For more information, call (913)882-6669