I recently had the opportunity to play with the fabulous North Carolina Brass Band, a brand-new professional ensemble based in the Triad area of North Carolina. Music Director Brian Meixner happens to be a good friend of mine. Putting together this British-style brass band comprised of some of the finest brass players in North Carolina has been his labor of love. NCBB recorded their debut album, First in Flight, and had three CD-release concerts slated for the end of September. Brian was short a euphoniumist for the shows, so he asked if I'd be willing to come down and cover the solo euphonium book. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
I drove down to North Carolina and joined the band for one fast and furious rehearsal. Our first concert was at a lovely church in Kernersville. I had a blast performing alongside Glenn Wilkinson, a stellar player who made me feel very welcome.
Our second show was on September 29th at a huge church in Winston-Salem. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that September 29th is my anniversary, and Brendan agreed to let me run off and play brass band music instead of being romantical on our special day. Now that's an understanding man! Here's a shot of the hard-working NCBB ticket-collecting crew, including Brian's lovely wife Audrey.
Our third show was at a church in downtown Greensboro.The amazing Judith Saxton plays solo cornet, and sitting across from her bell was a privilege. Want to know how glorious this band sounds? You should buy First in Flight. Seriously, it is a GREAT album, and I jammed out to it for about a month straight leading up to these gigs.
Apparently this is the shit-eating grin I have on my face after rocking out, brass band-style. Brendan says this face is ridiculous, and it definitely is, but I think it illustrates just how much fun I had playing with this group.
The musicians of the NCBB are not only beasts on their instruments, they are also some of the nicest folks around. This country needs an ensemble like this, and it's exciting to see the group take off.
For me, the best part of the week was spending time with Brian and his family. Brian and Audrey opened their home to me, and Bo (yes, I drag this kid everywhere), made a new best-buddy in their son, Henry. Can you handle this much cute?
During some downtime from rehearsing and performing, the Meixners took us to the Greenboro Science Center. Bo loved it, and now he knows pretty much everything about science...
The diving penguins were his favorite, and here he is checking out some sharks with Henry.
I think the aquarium blew his mind a little bit.
So after reading this blog post, you're probably thinking that you need to check out this smoking-hot North Carolina Brass Band right away. Well, you're in luck, because they have two concerts coming up in the next few days. Check out their website and Facebook page for more information. If you don't happen to live near North Carolina, you can always grab a copy of First in Flight. I'm grateful I was able to experience this group from the inside, and I know that their Christmas concerts will be a huge success. Good luck and happy blowing, y'all!