Editorial Update


Tom Day photo

Tom Day photo

Wow!  It’s a huge weekend for brass band concerts.  Bands that have submitted concert announcements to me include Triangle Brass Band, Triangle Youth Brass Band and Brass Ensemble, Capital City Brass Band, Rocky Mountain Brassworks, and Princeton Brass Band.  The Mid-Atlantic Brass Band Festival is this weekend, as well.  If your band is playing this weekend, it’s not too late to let us know!  Drop me a line at nabbabridge@gmail.com, or send a post-concert report with a couple of photos.

If you’re planning to come to the Championships April 12-13, it’s time to finalize the details of your travel plans.  Our host hotel, the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, is completely booked!  This is great news for NABBA, but not so great if you’re looking for a place to stay.  There are a number of other hotels within walking distance of the Scottish Rite, but you might want to get moving.

You probably already noticed, but I added a weather widget to The Bridge with the forecast for Cincinnati.  Keep an eye on this page when planning what to bring.  Average temps in Cincy for mid-April range from highs in the mid-60s to lows around 40 F.

Finally, I’m officially announcing a prize drawing to be held when The Bridge reaches 100 subscribers.  Several North American Brass Bands have sent me their recent recordings.  When I’ve got 100 email addresses on my subscription list, I’ll draw one of them randomly and send the winner a CD.  So tell your friends to read The Bridge and subscribe!  Fun!

Have a great weekend!



Editorial: Play ball.

Tom Day photo

Originally published in March 2012 on www.nabbabridge.org.

Every year, when the snow melts in the north, pollen coats the cars in the southeast and…well, whatever happens in Texas in the spring starts happening, we all peek up into the sky, turn our clocks forward one hour, and start gearing up for the big event. You know the one I’m talking about, right? Of course you do.

Baseball spring training. Didn’t see that coming, did you? My TV’s tuned to the MLB Network, I’m wearing my Sparky Anderson jersey and my Toledo Mud Hens cap, and I’m buying season tickets to the San Antonio Missions. That’s not to say that I’m not thinking about brass bands–I’m always thinking about brass bands. This month, my two favorite spectator sports collided in my brain, and it occurred to me that each brass instrument has a corresponding position on the baseball team. With a little help from my favorite baseball expert, I put together a list:

1) Solo cornet = starting pitcher, and solo euphonium = closing pitcher. Each of them believes they are the most important person in the game. They’re pretty important, but they’re more dependent on the catcher than they care to admit.

2) Tuba: catcher. Runs the show. When the catcher has a good day, the pitcher looks great; when the catcher has a bad day, the whole team takes the blame. Also, more than one catcher has been nicknamed “Pudge.”

3) Flugelhorn: first base. Right in the middle of everything, delivering some of the most elegant solo work on the field.

4) Tenor horn: second base. Versatile, but confusing; other players often get credit for doing his job.

5) Back row cornets: third base. Always diving for shallow bunts and reeling back for foul balls, but the main action visits every other base before them.

6) Baritone: shortstop. Naively thought to be an extra or bonus position, but they’re covering a lot of ground, and almost always doing the tenor horn’s job.

7-9) The trombones in the outfield–where else? They accomplish spectacular feats, but most of the time they’re, well, out in left field.

10) Repiano cornet: utility infielder. No explanation needed.

11) Soprano cornet? Designated hitter, of course. Trots out every couple of innings to hit a home run–or strike out.

12) Percussion: the Bullpen. Once, it was common for starting pitchers to finish games and brass band music didn’t use percussion.  Nowadays, a full complement of percussion is as necessary as a bullpen full of pitchers.  Most relievers are used sparingly, their skills matched up for particular tasks, and the game wouldn’t be the same without them.

The two subjects–baseball and brass band–are not so different, in the end. Both have an inspired, rabid fan base; both seem breathtakingly simple when viewed from a distance. Texas Rangers owner Nolan Ryan once said, “One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” The same could be said of a brass band competition, as well.

This year’s NABBA Championships will bring together friends from Little Rock to Boston; Detroit to Raleigh–many of whom don’t see one another at any other time of the year. Be sure to visit the vendor exhibits, look me up and say ‘hey,’ and enjoy the weekend full of fantastic bands playing fantastic music. Play ball.

Betsy Jones

3/09/13 – Special thanks to Alan Kiser for reminding me that percussionists also read brass band websites!  I’ll never leave out our bullpen again.  –B

Change Is Good.

Change is good.

When The Bridge was born in April of 1980, NABBA founder J. Perry Watson typed and mailed two pages of brass band news and NABBA business to all the members of NABBA. Since then, editors have included Karen Kneeburg, Don Kneeburg, Thomas Myers, Ronald Holz, Colin Holman, Eric Aho, Doug Yeo, and myself. The Bridge has grown from two typed-and-mailed pages to a fully-online quarterly publication with CD and book reviews, in-depth contest reports, high-resolution photos and paid advertising. While Doug Yeo’s 32-page electronic Bridge format has been a beautiful vehicle for NABBA information, I felt it was time for another update.

News travels even faster now. As I edit submissions and lay out issues in the old format, I can click over to Facebook and find myself “scooped” as band members promote their own CDs and concerts. Championships results are announced before I have time to design a PDF Bridge issue. NABBA test pieces are public knowledge before I even get home from our annual Board meetings. I, myself, utilize Facebook to post photos from the contest, knowing that my best photos will be seen and downloaded before I ever publish The Bridge. The format has simply become too slow.

I considered scrapping it altogether. Surely, the job of disseminating NABBA information could be absorbed into our official website; we could use our social media as a public forum for bands to submit their own concert photos and updates. I wasn’t ready for that, yet, either.

The truth is, I adore The Bridge. From my first issue, when I felt powerfully insecure about stepping into the large shoes that Doug left behind, to the recent months of checking my nabbabridge@gmail.com account just to see if any bands have contacted me today, I have grown professionally and personally. And it’s time for The Bridge to grow, too. Change is good.

The NEW BrassBandBridge.com will contain the same features as the old, but in an updated format and timely manner.  No more waiting two weeks (or more) for the editor to hole up and design a post-contest issue.  Contest results will be posted here as soon as they’re available.  Photos and reviews will appear when they’re ready, not when they’re ALL ready-submitted-edited-laid out-and-squished into the appropriate column width.  Band news and programs for member and non-member bands will be a regular feature. NABBA Presidential messages, CD reviews by Dr. Keith Wilkinson and articles submitted by readers will appear regularly, and our precious sponsors will have up-to-date ads and links.

Most importantly, YOU have options.  You can subscribe to this publication and receive updates whenever there is new material.  You can share links to articles on Facebook and Twitter.  You can comment on our articles–nicely, of course.

The Bridge is no longer a newsletter, and it is no longer a static print publication.  It is a living, evolving representation of North American brass bands.  Heck, The Brass Band Bridge is older than many of the musicians who perform in bands around the continent.  On my watch, it will continue to live and evolve with the bands it serves.  Change is good.

Betsy Jones