Since 1942 The Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band has been entertaining audiences with their authentic German-style music. Having formed from a group of eight or ten friends in the Lindenwood 4H club during the Second World War, the group called themselves “The Victory Band” to demonstrate their deep feelings of patriotism.
In 1966 the band decided to incorporate lederhosen into their uniform, and officially changed the name of the band to The Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band after the parade march by Carl Teike, Alte Kameraden March. The flamboyant march that inspired the band in 1966, continues to be one of the most requested numbers the band plays. In 1969 the band received its first invitation to play at the Oktoberfest in Glendale, Wisconsin. an invitation has been extended every year since.
In 1973 the band made its first playing tour of Germany and Austria. Return trips have become a tradition occurring in 1978, 1983, 1988, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2019. During these eight visits to Europe, the band has performed at the world-famous Munich Oktoberfest in 1978 and several famous beer halls in Munich and local fests in other locales in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. These tours have provided a most unique vacation experience for hundreds of friends and fans of the band, who have accompanied the band and gained an abundance of unforgettable memories.
In 1975 the band performed on the Mall in Washington at the Smithsonian Institute’s “Festival of American Folk Life”. That same year they appeared prominently in Thames Television’s television series “Destination America” commemorating America’s Bicentennial. In 1981 the band played at the first “Germanfest” at Henry Maier Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront, and have fulfilled an unbroken string of performances each year the fest has operated. Germanfest has become the largest German ethnic festival in North America. It is held the last weekend in July. In 1984 and 1987 the band had the honor to play for President Ronald Reagan and those assembled during his visit to Milwaukee. In 1996 the band was again privileged to entertain those present when President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl made a visit to Milwaukee.
The band continues to receive recognition. In 2002 the band was inducted in the Polka Hall of Fame and in 2005, 2010, and 2015 the band received recognition during the annual Milwaukee Germanfest for participating in the festival for 25, 30 and 35 years.
In 2017 the band was selected to be a participant in Travel Wisconsin’s 2018 summer tourism campaign. A 30-second commercial was filmed in Monroe, Wisconsin at Turner Hall in December 2017. The Gemuchlikeit commercial will be a memory the band will cherish for years to come.
What began in 1942 as a group of friends who loved to play the music of their heritage, both German and American, has evolved into a renowned musical organization called “The Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band.” Many of the band members are related, brothers, grandfathers, fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, brother-laws and sons-in-law. Today the band shows no signs of slowing down as we continue to welcome new members into the organization. The Freistadt Alte Kameraden Band well on its way to its eighth decade celebrating its ethnic and American roots while entertaining as only the Alte Kameraden can for all those that wish to listen.