BCCB veteran: Lives intertwine as band buddies

Rick Jacobs
Rick Jacobs

The Bartlett Community Concert Band began its 25th season last month.

That means a lot to me because I was there for the very first rehearsal in 1991, just as I was there at the beginning of the 2016 season.

I play a baritone horn which is, for lack of a better description, a small tuba. We baritone players are considered low brass in a band and are, of course, the most important section of any band that wants to sound good.

Seriously. No trumpets? No clarinets? You could still pull it off. No baritones — may as well just go home.

Which is why, when I was 14 and beginning my life as a musician at Christian Brothers High School way back in 1970, I chose the baritone.

Well, actually, I heard my cousin played it so that’s what I said I wanted to play as well. I had no idea what a baritone even was. When my band director, the late great Ralph Hale, brought it out I discovered in horror it was nearly as big as I was.

But from the first note that erupted from that old, crumpled bell, I was hooked.

I chose band because I’d heard, correctly, that you didn’t have to take gym if you played in the band at CBHS. I was 4 foot nothin’ and hadn’t yet reached 100 lbs. when I was 14. The word in the locker room was that the coaches were all over six foot, looked like Stallone and picked out one freshman a day for lunch.

Not to take to lunch. Eat for lunch.

But my lack of physical prowess didn’t matter in the band room. Nothing mattered. Even the kid with the red hair, glasses, braces and pocket protector was accepted and embraced.

We were there only to play music. We stuck together. We were family.

It is that way now with the Bartlett Community Concert Band, affectionately known as the BCCB. While there are only two of us left from that original get-together, many of us have more than 20 years in it. We have watched each other’s kids grow up. We have gone from parents to grandparents. We have celebrated births and mourned deaths. A few of us, including myself, have had our kids join us in the BCCB.

In other words, we are so much more than a community band.

We are, in every sense of the word, family.

Here’s a great example: A few years ago I had the misfortune of a massive house fire. Everything inside was lost. It took months to rebuild.

I had good insurance and everything was replaced. But my band family went above and beyond.

When band president Chris Thorne announced what had happened at the first rehearsal after the fire, an impromptu pass-the-hat began. More than $800 was collected that very night. More money came in later.

They organized meals for my family. For weeks someone would come by my rental house, almost every day, with a hot meal. An anonymous donor hired a maid to come by once a week and clean my house. It took six months for my home to be rebuilt and she never missed a week. The donor then had her clean the rental house top to bottom after I moved back home.

I still don’t know who paid for that.

Yeah, we play music. And we’re pretty good. But, for me anyway, I’m a part of this band, first and foremost, for the deep, personal friendships I’ve made over the past 25 years.

So, do you play an instrument? Feel like you might want to be a part of something really, really special?
Don’t worry about maybe being rusty. It’s like riding a bicycle. Relax if you never made it past third chair in high school or never won a medal in solo and ensemble contests.

We don’t care.

There’s no audition. There’s no pressure. And you’ll likely get better as time goes on because it’s just so much fun.

Get your horn out of the attic, oil it up or replace the pads and then come on out. Ask for me or Chris. You will be welcomed with open arms and there will never be one minute you’ll regret it.

One thing, though. If you play a baritone horn I’ll be your section leader. I actually hold the coveted “Section Leader for Life” position and I run a pretty tight ship.

Monday nights. 7-9 p.m. Whitten Memorial Baptist Church. 6773 Macon Road at the corner of Macon and Whitten.

We are fam-i-ly. You all know the rest of it.

Contact Jacobs at rick45@aol.com.