Meet the Band

Behind the scenes with the people who make the magic happen

We are a group of musicians with fine arts degrees, music degrees, and post-secondary music training who insist on having a fun, co-creative, collaborative environment with like-minded (and like-experienced) individuals to complement our ever-evolving lives. Little Brown Jug Brass is comprised of people who take their craft seriously, but not much else!  Having been caught up in the ‘perfectionism’ of it all, we have now chosen to focus on some of the best gifts music has provided us – camaraderie, light-heartedness, connection, and laughter.

Based on our shared history, we’re fortunately in the unique position of being able to access the mentorship of successful, talented, full-time professional musicians, while offering mentorship to younger up and coming musicians.

So here we are, a fun group of ex-perfectionists, some of whom may have taken ourselves a little too seriously for a little too long, coming back to our love of playing from a new perspective.  And a whole lotta great beer!

Our Founder

In grade 5, Jevon had a band director who spent a month trying each student on each instrument to see which one they had a natural affinity for. In between trying instruments, the students would study and do exercises in their workbooks so that before playing a note they had a grounding in music theory.  Stereotypically, everyone thought it was gonna be the “fat kid” in the band who would play the tuba, but he got the tenor sax. Jevon played the tuba for the next 39 years.  He followed this passion through Jr. and Sr. High School and then through university where he got a Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary majoring in Tuba Performance (yes you did read that correctly) even performing as a dancing tuba player in a modern dance class! (Don’t laugh too hard, Luke joined him in that class as a dancing trumpet player.)  After discovering that being a classical tubist in Alberta was not financially viable in supporting his or his family’s lifestyle to which he wanted to become accustomed (you know luxuries like food, clothing, and shelter) he pursued a career in IT. Throughout the years, he expressed his creativity in various and sundry ways including in Theatre, Stage Craft, and Software Development. Although he wanted to experience creative satisfaction, he found it challenging to temper his desire for musical “perfection” against musical “satisfaction.” Jevon found it difficult being satisfied with his playing without the perfectionism of striving to be the ‘absolute best player in the world’ – an impossible task if one can’t commit the time to practice at least 8 hours a day.  Surprisingly, it was the merging of his software development philosophies with his artistic creativity that spawned Little Brown Jug Brass!

Jevon’s personal vision is to create a fun, co-creative, collaborative environment with others who were similarly not playing as regularly or had not found opportunities to play music at the quality that was satisfactory for them personally while balancing a day job, family obligations, etc.  Jevon strongly believes that if you’re going to take time away from your family, the experience should feed your soul, your wallet, or preferably both.

After reaching out to a few contacts with fine arts degrees and/or post-secondary music training, Jevon recognized that many were as hungry for this type of experience as he was.  It was exciting to talk to Software Developers, Engineers,  school Band and Music Teachers (who spend most of their time mentoring younger students but don’t get a chance to play themselves) and others about coming back to the love of playing.  So here we are, a fun group of ex-perfectionists, some of whom may have taken ourselves a little too seriously for a little too long, revisiting some the best gifts that music has to offer from a place of wisdom and reflection.  And a whole lotta great beer!

Our Name

When I was in Grade 7, I started losing interest in my music classes as playing with my peers wasn’t challenging enough for my skill level.  To pique my interest, my band director handed me a Book of brass quintet tuba parts with a cassette tape to play along with. (Yes, I am cassette tape remembering years old!)  On side A of the cassette was the full recording, and side B had the orchestra minus the tuba part so I could play along.  My favourite of these charts was an arrangement of Little Brown Jug by Irving Rosenthal.  It was similar to Glenn Miller’s arrangement, but way harder!  Since Gr. 7 I have continued to try and play this tune with very limited success as it uses the extreme high range for the tuba (I had to even read in the treble clef staff!)  After achieving a Bachelor’s degree in Music in tuba performance (yes you did read that right) and decades of practice, I’m thrilled that not only can I play the part, but I have a phenomenal group of people to play it with!

Any suggestion that our name was inspired by our rehearsal tradition of bandmates bringing new and interesting craft beer in Growlers, aka little brown jugs,  is fallacious and we will deny this unsupported rumour vehemently.

Jevon Hills – Band Leader and Founder of Little Brown Jug Brass

“I have a definition of success. For me, it’s very simple. It’s not about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many shining eyes I have around me.”

Benjamin Zander

Our Philosophy

Much of our philosophy is founded in the works of Benjamin and Rosamund Zander, and their joint work on leadership and human potential.  The Zanders invite us all to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world.

Our commitment to radiating possibility in the world begins with us coming back to the foundational things we love about music.  How it makes us feel.  How it connects us with great people. How it can continually challenge us to strive for excellence – and even more, to continually redefine what excellence is in any given moment.

We also cultivate an environment where we all can confidently explore creatively while constructively challenging each other. Within an encouraging, collaborative, co-creative space, we support each other in delving into newer aspects of our musicianship, performance, and ourselves.  In addition to laughter-filled rehearsals, former player-only musicians are now arranging, arrangers are composing, players are singing, and studio musicians are working on aspects of their live performance!  By bringing the best aspects of ourselves to this group, we are witnessing this band transcend into more than the sum of its parts!  (And let’s face it, a band that has 7 permanent members who collectively own 4 accordions – if not for parental interference, we would have had 6 – has got to be a good time!)

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