Windjammers Unlimited (WJU) is the circus music historical society. Organized as a non-profit and run by volunteers, WJU’s three-part mission is the preservation of, education about, and performance of circus music from the Golden Era of the American Circus. WJU was founded in 1971 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Playing and Non-Playing
WJU welcomes both playing and non-playing members.
Meets and Performance
WJU stages two five-day events every year. When 80-120 WJU musicians convene at Bradenton, FL every January, or at a non-Florida location in the summer, they are assigned to one or more bands. Over the next five days they rehearse and record some 60 pieces under a half-dozen conductors, perform public concerts, and host educational seminars. They play musical selections from Windjammers’ vast library of vintage music in genres including circus marches, galops, waltzes, rags, overtures and novelty numbers. Check out this diverse playlist from the 2018 Summer Meet in Oskaloosa, IA.
WJU members also perform at some other circus-related events, such as the 2019 Circus Fans Association of America Convention in Springfield, MA, the annual Circus Ring of Fame Induction Ceremony in January in Sarasota, FL, and the International Independent Showmen’s Association in January in Gibsonton, FL.
The 2021 winter convention was staged virtually. It featured professional-quality videos of performances by virtual Windjammer bands and numerous informative educational seminars via Zoom. The summer meet will also be virtual. Many of the meet videos can be viewed by non-members on the web site or on YouTube. In-person gatherings will resume in January, 2022.
WJU collects and digitizes circus music sheet music; preserves audio and video records of circus music performed by WJU bands, circus bands, and others; and prepares related educational material. This rich content is available to members on our website www.mywju.org.
Circus Fanfare is published for members six times a year. Each 28-page issue in full color is a fascinating historical journal of circus bands, bandmasters and musicians from circus days gone by, and also an interesting musical reference with topical articles such as appropriate tempos, pieces to accompany different types of circus acts, and actual musical programs by act for specific circus seasons. Each issue also provides current information about WJU’s activities. Five decades of Circus Fanfare issues are accessible to members on the website.
About Our Name
Because circus musicians spent their days “jamming wind through their horns”, they were known to others in the circus as “windjammers.” And play they did. Typically, their day started with a circus parade announcing the circus’s arrival to town. Next up was a Center Ring Concert the hour prior to the start of the afternoon performance, and then playing for the two to three-hour performance itself. That evening, they did a repeat of the afternoon’s program. As the saying goes in the circus, “If the Ringmaster isn’t talking, the band is surely playing.”
WJU welcomes donations to support operational needs and advance our mission. We practice openness and transparency and adhere to government requirements for a 501(c)(3) organization. You can inspect WJU bylaws HERE and our annual IRS Form 990 filing via the IRS.gov website HERE.
IF you require additional information or assistance, please feel free to CONTACT US.