For the first time in recent memory El Pasoans attending this year's Music Under the Stars Fourth of July concert at the Chamizal will not be celebrating our nation's birthday with the El Paso Wind Symphony.

Instead a Brooks & Dunn tribute band will precede the annual fireworks finale.

Curious about the change, I reached out to Ben Fyffe, Assistant Director City of El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Department, for a reason.

"The El Paso Wind Symphony did not apply to play during our open artist application for this season." Fyffe explained via email. He added that over the years attendees have requested the city "explore other types of American music on the 4th, [so] with no symphonic applicants, we will be doing that this year."

El Paso Wind Symphony Conductor Ron Hufstader acknowledged in a radio interview with Mike and Tricia the group did not submit an application, but said it was only because he'd been informed in the past there was no need to.

Neon Circus
Neon Circus

“We were told we didn’t need to apply, that we were kinda the automatic group for July the Fourth,” said Hufstader, adding the person who communicated that to him is no longer with the Museums & Cultural Affairs Department, and that no one currently with the department told him things had changed.

“We got a communication from them saying, nothing about you didn’t apply, it just said ‘We’ve decided to go in a different direction. We’re not going to use you for the 4th of July,’” Hufstader told Mike and Tricia.

So if boot-scootin to a Brooks & Dunn tribute act isn't 4th of July-ish enough for you and you'd much rather commemorate our country's independence with the time-honored tradition of patriotic music and a big fireworks display, Fyffe offers up a suggestion.

"For purists, we do have [an] option. Besides programming the MUTS Independence Day Concert, MCAD also makes possible the annual Independence Day Concert at Ft. Bliss [with] the El Paso Symphony Orchestra."

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