Ice Cream, Music, and Farewell

For all you music and ice cream lovers, what may very well be your favorite Hot Springs Concert Band Concert of the year is coming up on Sunday, April 21. Yes, it’s the annual Kiwanis Club-Spring Concert and Ice Cream Social, a special event which has been a staple of the band’s concert season for over 30 years. 

On top of enjoying the music and ice cream, all attendees will have the opportunity to contribute to the Kiwanis Club’s service to children and youth in our area through your ticket purchases. The ice cream will be served at 2:00, and the concert will begin at 3:00 at the Woodlands Auditorium in Hot Springs Village.   

However, this year’s spring concert will be different in a way that no spring concert has ever been. It will be Dr. Craig Hamilton’s final concert as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Hot Springs Concert Band (HSCB). After 41 years at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) and 25 years leading the HSCB, Dr. Hamilton (or Craig, as he prefers to be called) will soon retire. He came to the band in the summer of 1999, at the invitation of Harvey McIntyre, to serve as a guest conductor and you might say “try out” for the job. Well…we all know the rest of the story and are so thankful and blessed for the turn of events that gave Craig to us for what would become a quarter century.  

Craig, as a younger Maestro, in 1999

When Craig arrived on the scene, he gave the band a spark…a leadership which would inspire and motivate the band to reach for and even exceed its potential. He took a solid foundation laid by his predecessors and rejuvenated and grew a band which indeed aspired and excelled to new levels.  

 The Hot Springs Concert Band has since played venues and events well beyond its local communities and has been the recipient of awards reflecting not only quality musicianship but a faithful and enduring commitment to preserving and advancing the artistic heritage bequeathed to us by generations of yesteryear, including those earlier band comrades.

Those of you who have attended any of the HSCB concerts also know that Craig’s love of music is almost matched by his love of people who love music. His personal touch and sense of humor at concerts have added a special dimension which has complimented the music and created an atmosphere of delight and camaraderie within our audiences. 

Craig, after 23 years with the band, in 2022

And it should be noted… that all of the above is in addition to his day job at OBU as a dedicated and renowned educator and mentor whose legacy there is immeasurable. More important though is his gig on the home front– that of husband, father, and grandfather – roles which are of the utmost priority to him. As he shared with the band, “it’s time to go back home to Florida, closer to our kids and grandkids…and to the beach.”

 The Hot Springs Concert Band will carry on, eventually with a new conductor who will continue and build upon the legacies left by Craig and those before him. However, his long season with the band will endure in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to be a part of the band and its audiences during the past 25 years.  

Craig enjoying entertaining the audience at a 2023 concert

In the meantime, there will soon be ice cream and a concert to enjoy, and Craig and the band as usual are preparing a good one for you. We hope this concert will reflect a turnout, even a sellout, indicative of three important things: A desire to contribute to the important mission of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Hot Springs Village; A desire to listen to some great music; A desire to enjoy some ice cream and fellowship; and last but certainly not least – A desire to pay tribute to Craig’s quarter-century of dedication and contributions to our communities. May it be a fitting sendoff for him and an opportunity for you to wish him a personal thank you and farewell. 

Tickets are $15 and may be purchased from the following: members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Hot Springs Village; members of the Hot Springs Concert Band, the Woodlands Auditorium Box Office between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm weekdays (501-922-4231); and through

For other information about the band, including photos of past concerts, you can visit the band’s website at

Featured image: Craig encouraging and thanking the band immediately before its 35th anniversary concert in 2009.

By Jeff Olson

Author Jeff Olson Hot Springs Village

Jeff Olson, Author

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