Brass quintet plans armed forces tribute


News staff writer

November 8, 2006

It was the first time the Gorge Brass Quintet had viewed the Armed Forces Salute that they would be playing publicly in less than one month — but they weren’t worried.

After all, it was mid-October and they had one more practice session prior to a performance before a large crowd on Veterans Day in Hood River. (See Mom tells ‘Angel’ story at Veterans ceremony in related story.)

However, the players were already members of the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta and/or Gorge Winds Band so they had the basics down.

Their ease with an instrument became apparent moments later. The medley for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard ranged from the peppy to the poignant. And the musical shifts made by the group were almost flawless from the first reading of notes.

The Nov. 11 mission of the Gorge Brass Quintet is to pay tribute to veterans and military personnel now on active duty around the world. The instrumentalists behind the patriotic melodies will be: Jerry Keith, tuba; Kate Brownback, trumpet, Eric Ohlson, trombone, Sam Grotte, trumpet; and, Carol Goter, French horn.

“Being in a quintet is really fun because you get to play a lot,” said Ohlson, director of Hood River’s own Old Glory Marching Band.

In addition to the songs that represent each branch of the armed forces, the quintet will play the National Anthem. The brass specialists are already familiar with that song since they aired it at the local Sept. 11 service to honor fallen emergency responders.

The musicians also accompanied the Mid-Columbia Community Choir at the August memorial service for Navy SEAL Marc Lee, a hometown hero who died in Iraq.

Late last spring, Keith asked Grotte, director of Gorge Winds, and the other musicians if they were interested in forming an informal group. Their immediate reply was a resounding “yes” for the added opportunity to further their talents.

“Jerry e-mailed me and I immediately said that I would be honored,” said Brownback, who is becoming well-known for her haunting rendition of Taps, which will end Saturday’s ceremony.

The quintet has learned that the first order of business in any practice session — held every two months or so — is to appease Keith.

Since his tuba frequently has a lesser role in musical selections, he thoroughly enjoys taking the lead in the fast-paced Killer Tango.

“Tubas don’t usually get that many notes. So, I guess this has sort of become our theme song by default,” said Keith.

In just a few months, the quintet has already earned enough notoriety to play at the two local memorial services and a Catholic ordination. They are now performing in the Beauty and the Beast orchestra and will join Christmas services at several area churches.

For more information on the Gorge Brass Quintet call Keith at (541) 399-2729 or e-mail

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners