2021 Great American Brass Band Festival poster released, theme announced

Published 3:52 pm Thursday, May 13, 2021


Local artist Brandon Long poses with the poster for the 2021 Great American Brass Band Festival.

The Great American Brass Band Festival is pleased to announce the poster design for the 2021 festival, which will take place June 11-12.

The collectors’ poster has become one of the most anticipated and collectible items of this longstanding event. Over the past 30 years, the poster has reflected a variety of styles and designs including playbills, works from local artists, and scenery of Danville. After the pandemic shuttered our local festivals and events around the world, GABBF is pleased to announce that we are officially “Back In Brass” in 2021, with the poster designed by local artist Brandon Long.

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“2020 was a difficult year for our country and the events and music industry was hit extremely hard, so we wanted a theme for 2021 that let people know we were back in business, even if in a scaled-down manner,” GABBF Executive Director Missy Angolia explained. “Brandon and I tossed around some ideas, as I wanted to come up with a play on words using catchy song titles. We both landed on ‘Back in Brass’ which is a play on AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ song/album. Plus it’s really fun to shout ‘Back in Brass’ in the stylings of singer Brian Johnson.”

“When Missy approached me about doing this year’s poster, I was all in,” Long said. “I had done the poster for 2020 and we had toyed around with reworking it and making it fit the shorter festival, but ultimately decided to make a new one around the theme of Back in Brass. I’ve been teaching lots of virtual drawing classes during the pandemic and one of my favorite drawing exercises is the ‘one-line drawing.’ To do a one-line drawing, you put your pencil to the paper and begin drawing the outline of the object and complete the drawing without lifting your pencil – making the whole drawing in one continuous line.

“In working on previous GABBF posters, I’ve always been intimidated by the instruments themselves. Brass instruments are very complicated, with all kinds of valves, and ever so many twists and turns. I don’t know much about brass instruments or how they work, but our audience for the festival is some of the world’s biggest brass music fans. If I get it wrong, they’ll know – so I always feel a lot of pressure to get it right. Drawing the instruments as one-line drawings allowed me to be more abstract and suggestive and far less technical, giving me a bit more improvisational freedom. As I was drawing the different bends and twists of the instruments, I realized that the vibrations and air — breathed, buzzed, (or whatever the technical term is) into these instruments flows through in a linear way — the same way I was creating these drawings.”

Angolia also asked Long if he could incorporate the initials JR into the poster design in memory of Jim Rankin, the festival’s long-time and sorely missed key logistics coordinator/volunteer who passed away at the end of 2020.

“I decided to try to draw what most people would consider the main brass instruments – the trombone, the trumpet, the French horn, and I suppose the last could be interpreted as either a tuba or a euphonium. Each instrument was drawn using only one line, and then I connected them together later for the arrangement we see on the poster. I was also able to put Missy’s requested tribute to Jim Rankin as a “JR” worked perfectly into the trombone.”

Posters will be for sale and Long will be signing those purchased during the Art Commission’s Downtown Gallery Hop on Friday, June 11 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Bluegrass Center for the Arts. Posters will also be available for purchase Saturday, June 12 during the festival at the merchandise tent.