The end of 2015 is behind us now, and it’s time to look forward to the year ahead. But we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the New Year is bringing some changes. Sousaphonist and founding member Matt Brinkmann is moving on, and we wish him the very best. We call Matt “The Quiet Storm,” and he’s been solid as a rock, holding down the low end with incredible precision and great athleticism, without a doubt the hardest working member of the band. He may stand in the back, often unnoticed apart from that gigantic brass instrument he’s holding, but he has been the literal foundation of the band since we began back in 2008. The photo above (by Crystal Rolfe) shows a passing of the torch — or in this case, the sousaphone wreath from our holiday shows — to new addition Cody Henry, who will slide into Matt’s spot in the back extremely capably and well-prepared. We are sad to see Matt go, without question, but we are pumped about the prospect of Cody in the band. And Matt will continue to fill in from time to time, so you’ll likely see him onstage with us again in the near future. But as the near future approaches, we’re excited to see what surprises it may have in store for us.
We’re excited to play New Year’s Eve at our home base, the Broadway Oyster Bar. Come early for a great Creole dinner and stick around as we send 2015 packing with a big brass bash. For reservations, call (314) 621-8811. Tickets are just $15, a mere pittance for the memories you’ll make and the dancing you’ll do.
Last year, we released an original tune (penned by our sousaphonist Matt Brinkmann) called “Because It’s Christmas” that summed up a lot of our feelings around the holiday season. Pretty basic stuff, like treat others with kindness, and why can’t it be like Christmas year round? We liked it so much that we’re re-releasing it — and if you download it here for the low, low price of $1.99 (feel free to give more if you like), we will donate ALL proceeds to Play It Forward St. Louis, a wonderful local charity that puts musical instruments into the hands of kids who can really use them. We hope you’ll take a minute to download our track and help some children in need. And let your friends know as well, because it feels so good to give.
Doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re invited to our 7th Annual Holiday Brasstravaganza & Pajama Party, December 18th and 19th at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue just south of downtown St. Louis. It promises to be as much fun as the other six Brasstravaganzas combined, with familiar faces and some new ones, too. We’ll announce the full lineup very soon, but like wondering what’s in that oddly-shaped package in the silver-and-gold wrapping paper that makes a funny noise when you shake it, you’ll just have to wait. But bank on extra-special guests, oddball renditions of classic holiday tunes, raffle prizes, slightly off-kilter elves and having your photo taken with Santa Claus himself to support a local charity. Start getting your PJs ready, because that’s the recommended attire for this particular holiday bash. Visit offbroadwaystl.com soon for ticket information, because this party has sold out the last few years. Ho Ho Ho, indeed.
One of the highlights of this not-even-close-to-being-over summer was getting to make another journey to Blissfest, a very cool music festival in Harbor Springs, Michigan (which also happens to be Tim’s hometown). Imagine perfect 75-degree weather, no humidity, clean air and sunshine, then fold in a bunch of incredible bands and artists, toss in some delicious craft beers, cover the whole thing with a mellow hippieish vibe, and you’re smack in the middle of Blissfest. We played two sets to very receptive crowds, and sold more CDs than any other band at the festival. That’s pretty amazing, considering some of the participating talent: Arlo Guthrie, the Way Down Wanderers, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the Go Rounds, Gangstagrass, Whiskey Shivers, Galactic Sherpas, Leftover Cuties and a whole lot more. We are blessed (blissed?) and honored to have been invited to play, and hopefully we’ll get back many times in years to come. It was also a treat to play with original member Ben Reece again, who made the trip because new guy Austin had a previous commitment. We also played a streetfest in Boyne City, a picturesque little town on the shores of Lake Charlevoix, which was special because many members of Tim’s family showed up, including some cousins he hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years. Despite some economic troubles (the less said about those the better), the state of Michigan is a beautiful place to visit and play, no matter what manner of play you enjoy.
We are pleased as punch to announce that we’ve won our fifth Riverfront Times Music Award, in the Soul/Funk category. We were up against some staggeringly good competition — Al Holliday & The East Side Rhythm Revue, The Jungle Fire, Nikki Hill and our friend Andy Coco’s Rhythm Section Road Show. You should definitely go see those bands and artists wherever and whenever you get a chance, because all those folks bring the funk in large tanker trucks to every single show. It’s humbling to win awards like these, because they’re voted by the fans, and we appreciate each and every one who cast a ballot in our direction. It sounds corny, but as long as y’all keep liking what we do, we’re gonna keep doing it. Thank you.
It is with no small amount of melancholy that we bid adieu to founding member and sax wizard Ben Reece. Ben has decided to leave the band to pursue other musical opportunities and spend more time with his family. To say that he will be missed is a massive understatement; we will be forever grateful to him for his musical acumen and, more important, his friendship (on and offstage) since we began this craziness way back in 2008. Keeping the original lineup of a band intact this long isn’t exactly common, so we consider ourselves very lucky to have shared so many good times and great gigs together. But all things change, and in that regard we are extremely pleased to announce that Austin Cebulske, a young sax phenom who recently earned his Masters degree from Northern Illinois University, has joined the band and truly hit the ground running. While Ben will still turn up at gigs here and there (the Holiday Brasstravaganza, for example), we are very excited to move forward with Austin. As it has been since the very beginning, the saxophone position in the Funky Butt Brass Band remains in very good hands.
If you’ve come to a show lately, and ventured anywhere near the merch table, you’ve probably noticed the Lovely Liz. She is an amazing person who gives of her time to set up and sell our melange of CDs, EPs, t-shirts, koozies and whatever other shameless promotional stuff we have to offer at most gigs. Occasionally, the Lovely Liz is assisted by the Cute Catie or the Beautiful Beth, and we are mighty thankful that they’re all willing to help us out. Because we’re usually busy, you know, playing music. So if you’re in need of some Funky Butt music to play on a wondrously small electronic device, or you’d like to wear a huge honking FBBB logo on your chest, we hope you’ll stop by the table and say hello to our Marvelous Merch Mavens. We couldn’t do this without them!
We do, too. So we’re always up for a true New Orleans second line parade. We do it for weddings, parties, even traditional jazz funerals (hey, if you gotta go, this is a pretty good way to celebrate a life). We’ve done it at the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball for a number of years, and we’ve marched everybody out of the City Museum whenever KDHX’s Midwest Mayhem bash rolls around (as shown in the cool photo above). If you’re in the market for an interesting way to move people from Point A to Point B, we’ll help you do it Big Easy style. Check out the video on our PARADE page and then give Talent Plus Entertainment a call at (314) 421-9400. If you’re ready to march to a different drummer, give us a try. We’ll even throw in trumpet, trombone, sax and sousaphone, no extra charge.
We are very humbled and honored to have been voted Readers’ Pick: Best Local Band at the GO! List Awards. It’s always nice to receive an honor like this, but it’s made more special because we were voted in by the people. And that’s who we play for: The people. Not the critics, not the media, not our corporate overlords, but the folks who hang out on the dance floor and listen to every word and note and say hello and take home our music so they can have access to it whenever they want. It means a lot to us. So thank you, Readers, for your support!