Noble Merle Evans was called the "Toscanini of the Big Top", and James Francis Cook, editor of "Etude", called this homespun character
"Will Rogers with a horn". Originally from Columbus, Kansas, Merle joined the Midian Shrine Band while he was playing in the Wichita area.
He received his first contract for the newly combined Ringling Brothers - Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1918 while he was the band leader
for Brunk's Comedians. The Brunk show was playing at the old Liberty Theater which stood at 116 South Topeka in Wichita.
He was band leader for the Ringling Brothers - Barnum and Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth" for over 50 years.
He never missed a performance and never was late. On December 20, 1968, at the Mid-west National Band Clinic, he was honored
by being the first person to receive the Conn award, and also the Wind and Percussion award from the National Band Assn. of America.
From 1919 until his retirement in 1969, Evans played to an estimated 165,120,000 circus fans. Merle was often a guest conductor for college,
community, high school, Army, and Navy bands; and continued in this capacity after retiring. He became an honorary member of 28 shrine temples.
His friends said he very seldom forgot a name and always had a good word for everyone he ever met. He always talked very fast, and had a good story
to tell you. His personal and professional materials are now held in the American Bandmasters Association Research Center at the
University of Maryland library, College Park, Maryland.