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Coda Connections
Columbia Bands Fans' Quarterly Newsletter
Winter 2011-12

News & Calendar
Feature - CD Review: Christmas Cheers, by Straight No Chaser
Behind the Baton - Concert Band Director Mike gives his favorite one-liners
Fun Stuff - A few words about...
Official CB Positions - People in charge
Contact Information


In this issue: Read year-end thoughts from the CB Board, see the review of a sensational vocal group that was actually discovered on YouTube, and for some good-natured fun, catch the musician jokes.

As always, please check the other features of this newsletter, plus the Columbia Bands Web Site for updates. Enjoy!


For anyone who does not wish to be on the newsletter list, simply use the SafeUnsubscribe link at the bottom of the window to opt out.

I encourage all CB fans and members to speak up if there's a particular music-related subject that you would like to see featured in Coda Connections; your feedback is important to the growth and success of this publication.

Please send me a message if:
- Your email changes and you'd like to keep getting this newsletter, OR
- Someone you know is expecting this newsletter, but is not getting it, OR
- You wish to submit your own writing/comments.


- Len Morse, Editor

News & Calendar

Year-End Thoughts from Columbia Bands

Dear friends of Columbia Bands,

With 2011 coming to a close, the musicians and the Board of Directors of Columbia Bands would like to thank you for your continued support. As the calendar flips over to 2012, we reflect on one of our most successful years bringing music to people of all ages in our community. These successes include:

* The Columbia Concert Band (CCB) performed the annual "Concert for Young People" in September. Local Music & Arts Centers provided instruments for our younger audience members to try out, and the kids were then treated to a concert called "Caught Between Some Rock and a Hard Piece" that was made especially for them.

* The CCB hosted Maryland Community Band Day in May, which brought seven other community bands to the area to perform nearly eight hours of music for our audiences on a gorgeous summer day.

* The Columbia Jazz Band (CJB) took part in the 2nd Annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February in Rockville, MD. The theme for the festival was "Standing Up for Real Jazz" and featured many professional groups.

* The CJB performed a joint concert in February with the Wilde Lake High School Jazz Band, including all 40 musicians on stage to perform Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man." The CJB also performed a similar concert with Montgomery Blair High School music students in December of 2010.

As you know, most of our performances are free. While we have received steady support from local and state governments and organizations, the economic challenges that we all live with have hit the performing arts harder than most non-profit organizations. As you reflect on the past year, we hope you will contemplate the role that Columbia Bands plays in the community and consider making a donation as part of your year-end giving. Gifts that are made securely through our website or postmarked by December 31st are tax-deductible in 2011. Donations to Columbia Bands may also be eligible for matching gifts from your employer.

We are grateful for all you do to ensure our success and wish you and your families a happy holiday season!

Woody Wingfield
President, Columbia Bands Board of Directors

Winter News & Calendar

Members of the Columbia Jazz Band and the Columbia Concert Band have been rehearsing hard to bring you this Sunday's tandem winter concert (see calendar). Come on out!

Still need a gift for the music lovers in your life? Get the Jazz Band's 2010 European Tour CD! Please contact Maurice Feldman for more information.

  Sun, 12/18, 3:00-5:00PM, Concert & Jazz Bands at River Hill H.S., Clarksville, MD

by Len Morse (Percussion)     Musical notes on staff
CD Review: Christmas Cheers, by Straight No Chaser

Music can be found just about everywhere, and it is often created by musicians with high-quality instruments, but sometimes voices alone can provide plenty of joyful noise. Therefore, a CD from Straight No Chaser, the ten-man contemporary a capella sensation, should be at the top of your Christmas gift list this year. Their second album, Christmas Cheers, was released in 2009 and provides the catchy rhythms, smooth harmonies, memorable lyrics, and good-natured humor for which SNC is known.

Almost everyone can relate to the CD's first tune, The Christmas Can-Can, which pokes fun at the annual Christmas marketing season that seems to get longer each year. This piece contains interpolations of Offenbach's opera Orpheus in the Underworld (a.k.a. The Can-Can) and many recognizable holiday tunes, but boasts completely original lyrics, thanks to group member and arranger Walt.

Just when you think you've heard it all, take a listen to the guys' excellent rendition of We Three Kings in 5/4 meter (think Mission Impossible). It's a new twist on an old classic.

SNC and arranger Deke Sharon (not a group member) infuse soul into a pop arrangement of wintertime standard Let it Snow, featuring both of SNC's main lead singers, Jerome and Mike. You may just find yourself actually wishing for the white stuff to fall from the sky.

The group also covers Hey Santa!, a high-energy original from Rock-a-Billy bandleader and guitarist Brian Setzer. Featuring a fast "Doo-wop" style, this tune may have you wondering what Kris Kringle encounters when he visits America's Deep South. SNC's Ryan keeps it fun and does the tune justice singing the solo lead.

If you're the kind who listens to lyrics carefully, then SNC's rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is for you. The first iteration of the tune is relatively traditional, but then they repeat it with lots of jazzy syncopation and lyrics that might have come from a thesaurus. The introduction and closing are clever as well.

Not to be left out, the group's two solid bass singers, Charlie and Randy, both step up to the plate and knock You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch out of the park, along with Jerome. Close harmonies and a contemporary rock feel make this tune charming, even though the subject is-a bad banana.

Santa Claus is Back in Town (not to be confused with Santa Claus is Coming to Town) is a fluffy bit of silliness. Ever wonder what would happen if Elvis Presley took over for Santa Claus? Wonder no more.

A favorite of many SNC fans, Who Spiked the Eggnog? is the group's only original piece on this CD. Listen as Ryan tries to solve the mystery in this fast-paced, Christmas party whodunit.

The Twelve Days of Christmas may be the last track on the CD, but it started new careers: Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman noticed the guys after watching their original performance of this tune on YouTube, sung during a live concert in 1998. It was posted as a bit of nostalgia for the original members, but someone with power did see them, and, well, sometimes miracles do happen.

Along with the tunes mentioned above, Straight No Chaser lends their special musical blend to Christmastime is Here, Donde Esta Santa Claus, I'll be Home for Christmas, O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Jingle Bells, giving listeners 15 tracks of hip music and great humor. They are pure voices with no "pitch correction" or other electronic assistance, except microphones.

Straight No Chaser was formed in the fall of 1996 by students at Indiana University. As their web site's biography states, they were "10 guys who happened to be good friends who also liked to sing." Other albums include Holiday Spirits (2008), Six Pack (EP) (2009), With A Twist (2010), and Six Pack Vol. 2 (EP).

After the YouTube video and signing a contract with Atlantic (about ten years after the group's origination), they continue the magic that includes different styles of music from various eras. Their modern arrangements and sincere enjoyment of performance has garnered millions of loyal fans all over the world.

Behind the Baton
by Mike Blackman (Concert Band Director)     Conductor
Musician Humor

One of my favorite things about being around musicians is that they love to laugh; and sometimes that means laughing at ourselves. So, for the uninitiated, here is a list of classic band musician jokes. Obviously I mean no offense to anyone in sharing these, and I have been very careful to include every instrument so that nobody feels left out.

Q: How do you get two piccolo players to play in tune?
A: Fire one.

Q: What's the definition of "perfect pitch"?
A: The ability to throw a flute into a toilet from ten yards away without touching the rim.

Q: What's the difference between an oboe and an onion?
A: Nobody cries when you cut up an oboe.

Q: Why is a bassoon better than an oboe?
A: It burns longer.

Q: How many clarinetists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but it will take him all day to find just the right bulb.

Q: What's the difference between a saxophone and a lawnmower?
A1: Lawn mowers sound better in small ensembles.
A2: Your neighbor gets upset if you borrow a lawnmower and don't return it.
A3: The grip.

Q: How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five - one to handle the bulb and four to say how they could have done it better.

Q: How do you make a trombone sound like a French horn?
A: Stick your hand in the bell and play a lot of wrong notes.

Q: What do you call a trombonist with a beeper?
A: An optimist.

Q: What does a euphonium player say when he gets to his gig?
A: "Would you like fries with that, sir?"

Q: What's the range of a tuba?
A: Twenty yards if you've got a good arm.

Q: How do you know there's a drummer at your door?
A: The knock slows down.

Don't understand some of the humor? No problem! Come on out to our concert on December 18th and talk with some Columbia Concert Band or Columbia Jazz Band members - I'm sure they will be happy to explain!

In all seriousness, this is going to be a terrific concert. Whether you like holiday music, a super-challenging orchestral transcription, exotic melodies from the other side of the world, a gorgeous new original band work from one of today's most prominent composers, or some screaming jazz, we've got something for you, so please join us!

Have a wonderful holiday season, and thank you for your continued support of Columbia Bands.

Michael Blackman
CCB Director

Fun Stuff
Quarterly Word: "Leicht" (pronounced "laɪ̯Át")- German for "light" or "easy."

Quarterly Quote: "Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years." ~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

Official CB Positions

President - Woody Wingfield
Vice President - Tanya Hoegh-Allan
Secretary - Michael Pack
Treasurer - Jim Wesloh


Katy Clemens, Nancy Efron, Maurice Feldman, Jim Wesloh, John Zontek

Music Directors

CCB Director - Mike Blackman
CJB Director - Pete BarenBregge

Appointees and Volunteers

Historian - Melinda Frisch
Publicity Chair - Nancy Efron
Fundraising Chair - Woody Wingfield
Equipment Manager - Len Morse
Grant Writer, CCB Program Editor - Jeanette Donald
Facebook Fan Page Moderator - Katy Clemens
Accountant - David Weisenfreund, CPA
Librarian - Marilyn Kelsey
Curator - Jeanette Donald (Acting)
Uniform Manager - Bill DeVuono
HCAC Liason - Tanya Hoegh-Allan
Insurance Liason - Jenn Ambrosiano
CCB-CJB Liason - Maurice Feldman
CJB Tour Manager - Randy Malm
CB/CCB Webmaster - Len Morse
CJB Webmaster - Matt Williams
Graphic Artist - Corey Holland


Contact Information

phone: 301-598-4587
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