That’s a good day.

Beltway Brass Quintet
Beltway Brass Quintet

I love those days where you have a change of clothes for the next gig hanging in the back seat of the car. That means there’s a next gig. That’s a good day. Two gigs in one day. Let me tell you, that’s pretty rare for the tuba players. Maybe the New Orleans guys get the two-a-day hookup more often, but it doesn’t happen that often for me. I look forward to Christmas Eve day every year for the brass quintet action.

Back row
Back row

When you start your day at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, it’s a good day. No, I wasn’t in one of the big rooms, this was the stage out at the end of the foyer, the Millennium Stage, where people get to hear live music courtesy of the Kennedy Center before heading into the Concert Hall or the Opera House for whatever show is playing that day. That means your audience is in the hundreds and growing steadily during your performance, and they’re at least somewhat musically and artistically inclined, because they came to a show at the Kennedy Center. Yeah, that’s a good day.

Clowning around with the Beltway BQ
Clowning around with the Beltway BQ

The best part about the Beltway Brass Quintet show is that we’ve been working on it during the entire holiday season, playing the charts indoors and out, and it’s all money in the bank by the time we get on stage on the 24th. Hard work is much more fun when it pays off for you. We play some of my arrangements, some of Charlie Peterson’s arrangements, and mostly Zack Smith’s charts, which are solid and fun. Charlie and Zack are the classical and jazz trumpet players who met at the University of North Texas and both wound up near Washington, D.C.  It’s not the usual quintet. I met Zack filling in with one of his other groups, the New Line Brass Band. That connection led to a fair bit of work with this group, and they’re great musicians and great people. It’s funny to look back on that… Even though that brass band gig was kind of a goofy job, and we were really sweating it out that day in the hot July sun, it turns out that that was a good day.