I just came back to the Houston heat and humidity after spending two wonderful weeks in the hills of North Carolina. I could walk outside without feeling like being in a sauna!
The event was the Salvation Army Carolina division‘s Summer Music Conservatory at Camp Walter Johnson. It’s a month-long camp for middle- and high-schoolers with brass band, choir, drama group and piano classes. I was there last year for a week together with Mark Barton, the tubist with HGO and the Houston Ballet. We both liked it so much so we decided to come back this year for more. Great kids and a great camp!
The camp is run by Jamie Hood, Scottish trumpeter extra-ordinaire, and Daniel Simmons. The other guests included my old buddies Herb Bruce and Steve Bulla. Herb is the fastest trombone in the east (and the west!), an absolutely incredible player. He’s a master slammer, junk food aficiniado, BMW devotee, nuts, and an all-around great guy.
Steve Bulla is well-known as the Chief Arranger for the US Marine Band, the President’s Own. He is a master arranger and composer, who got his start in the Salvation Army New York Staff Band as a trombone player. He’s the guy behind Spiritual to the Bone, the trombone-jazz group that I’ve been fortunate to play and record with on tour in Australia, Switzerland and the US.
The Salvation Army in Charlotte, NC, also puts on a big event twice a year called the Brass Spectacular, with Jamie conducting an all-star brass band. I did the first one in Houston back in 2007 when Jamie brought in euphonium master Steven Mead from England: lots of fun!
Tonight is opening night for Houston’s Masquerade Theater’s production of “The Producers,” Mel Brooks’ hysterical musical. I played it a few years ago when the touring Broadway production came to town. I was still laughing at all the jokes after playing it for three weeks, and it’s the same this time, it’s priceless! My favorite character is of course Swedish bomb-shell Ulla, I get a lot of favorable comments about Sweden coming my way in the orchestra! Come check it out at Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall through August 6.