The Wayne County Community Band is a conglomeration of musicians. One played in school, then didn't pick his instrument back up again for 40 years. Another played in a military band. Another is a teen who plays in his high school band.

But when they come together to perform in the community band, they do it as one. And that's what makes it so special.

The Wayne County Community Band was the brainchild of Charles B. Aycock High School band teacher Roger Walker, who formed it about four years ago. But Walker became suddenly ill and wasn't able to lead the community band anymore, so it stopped for a couple of months.

Then Bobby Sherard, band teacher at Eastern Wayne High School, was asked to take over as the community band's director.

"Mr. Walker was mentor of mine and it was important that I carried on what he had started," the 47-year-old Sherard said. "This is my way of keeping his vision alive. And that vision was that everyone in Wayne County could have a place to play free of financial burdens and of different playing levels. You don't have to audition. No skill level is required. Just come out, bring your instrument and have fun."

The band, which numbers around 20 musicians, plays some classical pieces, some movie themes, some concert pieces and some pieces that the students in the group don't get a chance to play in school.

Sherard said the band is definitely needed here.

"We didn't have anything in our area where you could just come out and play," he said. "It brings together all walks of life -- doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses, students. It bonds us all, and makes you cross line you wouldn't normally cross."

In addition to directing the band, Sherard also plays the drums with the group.

"When I play with the band, I feel free," he said. " As in life, sometimes we're concerned about bills and the family and just life in general. It's very few times we get to be involved with something where we can just release. We can express ourselves. Music is special. I can be me for that moment I'm playing."

One of the older members of the band is 74-year-old Harold Williams, who plays trumpet.

He began playing in elementary school while in fourth grade.

He went into the military right out of high school and auditioned for the band. But that was during the Cuban Crisis and everybody pretty much went to war.

After 20 years in the Air Force, Williams taught music for a few years.

When he joined the community band, it had been 40 years since he had played his trumpet.

"I decided to pick it back up again, and I never missed a step really," Williams said. "It's an exhilarating feeling. I sometimes forget that there is an audience at performances. I just get into the music and feel it.

"Music exhilarates me and releases tension and makes me feel better. No matter how you're feeling or what's happened that day, when you listen to music, it picks you up. And music is the universal language."

Austin Abad is the youngest member of the band at 16 years old. He is a student at Rosewood High School.

"My sister and my band director told me I should play with the community band," he said. "I went (to rehearsal) and have been coming ever since."

He plays the trumpet alongside Williams.

"I like it a lot," Abad said. "When I'm stressed, I like to practice. I listen to myself, then listen to other musicians to see what I need to work on. It makes me play better."

After he graduates, Abad is thinking about becoming a composer or a jazz musician.

Kenneth T. Northcutt Jr., 32, has played clarinet in the Army National Guard.

"I started playing clarinet in sixth grade," he said. "I started on the bass clarinet; it's much larger than a regular clarinet. I started on that because at that time, we really couldn't afford to do the rental instruments. I really wanted to be in band.

"Me and my mom met with the director and he made an agreement with my mom that if I practiced and came to rehearsals and was dedicated, he would let me take the bass clarinet home and not charge me a rental fee. As a little sixth grader, I lugged that clarinet up and down the bus."

Northcutt is new with the community band.

"Mr. Sherard had been telling me about the community band," he said. "I just dropped in and started playing."

He's also currently a sub with the Triangle Ensemble in Raleigh. And he's the new band director at Goldsboro High School.

"Music does something that just nothing else can do," Northcutt said. "It heals sore spots and just take me to a place where nothing else can take me."

The Wayne County Community Band has played at places like Herman Park, the Paramount Theatre and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"We hope people come to our concerts just because they like music," Williams said. "We play something for everybody."

Sherard would encourage people to come to the band's concerts because "there is nothing like us in this community. And what brings people together better than music? It crosses all gender lines, racial lines, social lines. When you come to hear music, it's just one agenda -- and it's music.

"We can stand beside each other without thinking about any political differences or other differences. We're just there for the love of music."

Anyone wanting to join the community band can attend a rehearsal at Eastern Wayne High School band room every Monday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.