No rest for the Brass: Brass Band Festival already in overdrive, working on this year’s offerings

Published 12:10 pm Monday, January 30, 2017

This weather may not bring thoughts of the hot summer sun, cold beer and great music to your head at the moment, but the organizers of the Great American Brass Band Festival are already in full-effect, connecting dots and planning for this year’s June 1-4 event.

GABBF’s executive director, Niki Kinkade, sat down for a few moments to catch her breath, and share the upcoming highlights and some sneak peeks at what’s to come for the 27th festival.

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• The website,, has a brand new design.

“It was redesigned by Ryan Lanigan. Although it’s at the same address, the makeup is way different,” Kinkade says. The main screen shows a picture of the massive picnic crowd in all its grandeur, along with outlines of different brass instruments overlaid.

“We just decided it needed to be a little more user-friendly and easier to read. I think we accomplished that, with Ryan’s help.”

• New events have been added to this year’s lineup.

“Something we are very excited about: a bourbon, brass and croquet event in Perryville,” Kinkade says about the new happening Thursday of the festival. The event will be held on the lawn at Elmwood Inn, and has historical relevance.

“The longest running croquet game ever was held in Perryville, lasted for 100 years. We definitely think we can start a new tradition, and people will have fun with this event, get into the game, have some cocktails and enjoy the Perryville community — it has so much to offer.”

This will be a tournament but not a ticketed event, so anyone can come show their support and watch the game.

There will be more to come on the historical significance and exactly what this event will offer participants.

Also new this year is a collegiate program. The program will expand the festival’s educational component, and be worked into the symposium and other events.

“College and high school students, as a part of the curriculum, will be able to perform with eight different bands from all over, and perform for the public, as well.”

Kinkade says the festival finds it important to bring youth players together with professional performers. “They will study tone perfection, will play in public and learn while they’re doing it.”

• The picnic theme this year is “The Roaring 20s.”

“We plan to have a speakeasy set up in the middle of the picnic area, where people may purchase special cocktails. And there will be several other surprises planned to happen in between the headlining bands’ and performers’ sets.”

• This will be the final year Ron Holz will serve as artistic director of the festival.

“We’ve been lucky to have him as long as we have,” Kinkade says of Holz, who’s been on with GABBF for the full 27 years of its existence.  “After this year, we have a new committee that will come on board to fill the role of artistic directors.”

• Returning this year will be the arts components, new additions Kinkade says went over extremely well last year.

“The arts festival will still be held Saturday and Sunday, and the children’s area will be extended into Sunday, as well.”

Also returning, but tweaked a bit, are social media opportunities. There will be more options for people to get involved. “There will be more fun things, some interactive and just plain fun to get crowds hyped. We are also adding a new component that lets participants  ‘tell your story,’” Kinkade says. The page is designed similar to Pinterest, with individual boxes featuring unique stories about festival participants and their experiences.

• Sponsorships are still available for the festival.

“We have some very strong partnerships, but still have lots of opportunity for targeted marketing on behalf of new sponsors,” Kinkade says. Anyone interested in checking these opportunities out can call Kinkade at (859) 319-8426, or email

Performers:  Boston Brass of Boston, Massachusetts; Jens Lindemann of Los Angeles, California; Wycliffe Gordon of Lexington, Kentucky; The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 100th Army Band of Fort Knox, Kentucky; 202nd Army Band of Frankfort, Kentucky; 8Up Brass Band of the 100th Army Band of Fort Knox, Kentucky; Advocate Brass Band of Danville, Kentucky; Circle City Sidewalk Stompers of Indianapolis, Indiana; Chicago Footwarmers of Lexington, Kentucky; London Citadel Band of  London, Ontario; Lowdown Brass Band of  Chicago, Illinois; Saxton’s Cornet Band of  Frankfort, Kentucky; and Storyville Stompers of  New Orleans, Louisiana. Collegiate Program participants: University of Alabama Trombone Choir (affiliated with University of Alabama); Grant County Brass Choir (affiliated with Grant County High School); Bourbon Boys Quintet (affiliated with Northern Kentucky University); North Fulton Trombone Cartel (affiliated with several local schools in the Georgia  area); Limestone College Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble; Merit Brass Ensemble (Affiliated with Merit School of Music); Powerhouse Brass (affiliated with Pritchard Music); and Rose Street Brass (affiliated with University of Kentucky) . GABBF Staff:  Ron Holz, artistic director 2017; Niki Kinkade, executive director; John Stroube, artistic director 2018; Jason Dovel, Brass Symposium; Brad Kerns,  Collegiate Program; April Brumfield, education coordinator; Wycliffe Gordon, Collegiate Program; Nathan Miller, church service; and Marc Whitt, marketing