Archive for the ‘General’ Category

My Nightmare Trip to Edwards

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Elkhorn TripIt’s taken me eighteen years to finally be able to put this story to ink (even if it’s only digital). The year was 1995 and I’d had a tragic accident with my Holton TR158. The outer slide fell off when I was coming out of a practice room while on crutches. The slide was damaged terribly and needed new outer tubes. My Professor, Don Lucas, told me, “well, maybe it’s time for that Edwards you’ve been wanting to buy for so long.”

I paid my way through college by teaching private students and brass masterclasses in the high schools of Lubbock, Texas. I was not flush with cash, so I had to get creative in order to scrape together enough dollars to be able to afford the upcoming purchase. Not only was I going to get an Edwards, I was going to fly into Midway airport in Chicago and travel to the factory to be fit by Jonathan Winkle. Don worked it out so that our visit would coincide with Joseph Alessi’s visit to the factory during the summer. Chris Branagan was also going to buy a horn.

Flying into Midway saved us a lot of money, but it meant we were 2 1/2 hours from Edwards. Once in Elkhorn we stayed at the Americinn hotel. It’s a nice place, but there are no restaurants around the joint so we just settled in for the evening. The next day we all piled into Jonathan Winkle’s car and went to the factory. The fitting was everything we had hoped for. The sounds we were able to make were heavenly. Those horns were destined to take us into the next phase of our careers as elite orchestra musicians.

Joseph Alessi did come in during our fittings and was very complimentary, even with me playing every third and fourth position note out of tune. I did this only because the T350 was very different from the Bach 42 closed wrap I was borrowing from Chris since my Holton’s demise…

That evening we went back to the Americinn but had a problem. There was no food nearby and we had no car. Jonathan lived in Milwaukee so we were out of luck there. We had our new Edwards trombones with us, so I went downstairs to talk to the local native behind the desk. We talked about what we were doing in Elkhorn and she was amazed that we were travelling in for instruments. I asked if there was a way to go to Lake Geneva, and she offered to loan us her pickup.

I went upstairs and told Chris and Don. We decided that we had to play for her. The only duet we had was Don’s arrangement of Three Emily Dickinson Songs by Michael Hennigan. Don Lucas was wanting to premiere it later that year, but Chris and I stole that opportunity and did the world premiere at the Americinn in Elkhorn, WI. We then left our trombones as collateral and were off to Lake Geneva for dinner.

The next day, while driving to the airport, Don opened his mouth and what he said would make this trip the stuff of legend: “Guys, we gotta stop for Giordano’s deep dish pizza. It’ll change your life.” Against our better judgment, we stopped and ordered three personal deep dish pizzas. Deep dish takes longer to bake, so we thought getting the personal, smaller size would speed up the process. We kept glancing at the clock nervously, but the manager told us not to worry. After 45 minutes (45 minutes!), the order was ready. We sprinted to the car, pizzas in hand, and floored it for Midway.

If the pizza delay wasn’t enough, we hit the dreaded Chicago freeway summer construction. We couldn’t have been going more than 25 mph. To say we were nervous was an understatement. We got to the airport with 8 minutes (8 minutes!) to spare. Since this was pre-9/11, we were able to go directly to the gate. I took off in a sprint, leaving Chris and Don to be the luggage and trombone mules. I got to the gate in time to see the door closing. I told them to wait, that we are there and ready to board. “Sorry sir. The plane door is already closed. We can’t let you on.” I pleaded desperately (I was sure that after getting a loaner car from a hotel manager that getting on this plane would be easy). Chris and Don showed up just in time to see the plane pulling back from the gate. My mouth was open, but no sounds came from it.

Don and Chris had plenty of questions, but the only thing that mattered was this – there were no more flights to Lubbock that day. Midway Airport at the time was a dump and incredibly hot, so staying there the night wasn’t an option. We got on the phone and found out that Jeff Kurka was in Houston. He was planning on driving to Lubbock later that night after picking up slides from Bob Hester, who is/was our slide doctor.

We had a little time to spare – and I was starving – so I dug into the pizza while Don and Chris got us on a Houston flight. Chris was so distraught over the events that he couldn’t eat his, so he put it in the trash in disgust (the pizza had become a symbol of what was wrong in the world). That box sat there for .01 seconds before I tore into it. No food went to waste in my college years.

We got to Houston and Jeff picked us up. He owned a white Geo Prism that was hardly big enough for two people, let alone four trombone players, four trombones, eight additional slides, and luggage. Jeff’s parents had bought him a luggage rack to go on top of the car so we could make everything fit. If you are curious, the trip takes 8 hours 11 minutes according to our friends at Google.

And the trip was dark. In every way possible.

Chris was the music hall manager at Texas Tech. There was a recital happening that evening that he was responsible for. He made calls to make sure the hall was open and the recording was made, but he wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy to be sweating and stuffed into the back seat of a Geo Prism for 8 hours and 15 minutes (8 hours and 15 minutes!).

But Don was fine.

In fact, he decided to stop for a recruiting opportunity. AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

Chris and I were furious. Jeff was Switzerland. But Don won. We stopped at a high school student’s house so Don could convince him to come to TTU in the fall. Just this past year I was amazed to find out the student was Bruce Faske who will be performing at this upcoming years Alessi Seminar.

The trip seemed like it would never end. It stuck with me for a long time, but I’ve never been able to put it down in ink until now. In spite of all the craziness of that trip, I did learn a lot:

  • The instruments here are amazing.
  • The people in Wisconsin are great and will help you if you ask.
  • The new Hampton Inn is closer to food so you won’t have to test your “skills” or do a world premiere of a piece to get a ride.
  • Chicago style pizza will change your life. Maybe not enough to make a 3 hour trip into an 18 hour trip, but it’s pretty good.

The T350 I bought that day had a 384CF bell, rose single radius tuning slide, tenor bass crook slide, and a T2 custom silver leadpipe. This trombone sits next to my CNC and I play it every day when I’m making mouthpieces. It’s been modified a bit since, though.

If you were to ask, “would you do it again?”, my answer would be yes. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s taken me eighteen years to be able to say this.

Edwards Featured in Milwaukee Paper

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Ginseng, toilet paper, rat poison, and high-end trombones. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. But they’re all manufactured in Wisconsin.

A few weeks ago, Rick Romell of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed Christan for a story on the high level of brass manufacturing in Wisconsin (Elite trombonists lead parade to local custom instrument-makers). Christan was described as “a 39-year-old with a soul patch and a rapid-fire speech pattern sprinkled with musicians’ slang.” Sounds about right.

Romell’s article also discussed Gary Greenhoe’s role in Edwards’ history and his current job as owner of Greenhoe Trombones. It’s worth a read. Also, you can watch a video featuring Christan’s rapid-fire speech and soul patch.

Christan Interviewed in Podcast

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Tim Heston from recently interviewed Christan for a podcast on metal fabrication in brass instrument manufacturing. Soundtrack provided by Joe Alessi.

Edwards Keeps Producing

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Michael and Kelly Clobes recently added a 7.14 oz. little girl named Morgan to their family. Congratulations!

Paul Tynan, Lington Release “Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Two”

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Bicoastal Collective: Chapter TwoEdwards trumpet artist Paul Tynan has recently completed his second album with Aaron Lington. From the record label:

“The brainchild of Nova Scotia-based trumpeter Paul Tynan and baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington from the San Francisco Bay Area, the Bicoastal Collective is a select grouping of musicians from across the U.S. and Canada. Chapter Two finds the ensemble in a quintet setting exploring improvised music inspired by the British Isles. England’s eastern coast folk melodies and their treatment in composer Ralph Vaughn Williams’ early 20th-century works, are adapted by Lington into his suite, The Ravenspurn Collection, and Tynan adds three compositions to the recording with two inspired by his own Irish roots. With a purely North American jazz aesthetic, the Collective here give new life to ancient voices.”

Purchase Chapter Two

Edwards Summer Visits

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Summer is an extremely busy time at Edwards. Since most people are out of school (and because Wisconsin is beautiful in summer), fitting appointments fill up quickly. To ensure your desired day and time, be sure to request an appointment 2-3 weeks in advance. You can do that by using our form or calling us at (800) 562-6838.

Before booking your trip, read our Visiting Us page to help plan your visit (best hotel rates, eating options, transportation, recreation, etc.).

See you soon.



Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

This post’s title should be screamed like Kirk screamed Khan in Star Trek II. Because that’s how much we hate spam.

Recently, our Google spam filters have grown a little overzealous. As a result, many contact/order/appointment submissions were sent to Christan’s spam folder. He’s sorting it all out now. We apologize for the inconvenience.

May the 4th be with you.

Domo Arigato!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

In April of 2000 I first visited Edwards for a T350. Previously I had canceled a few appointments to visit, but finally did show up.

And boy was I glad I did.

That day was amazing and overwhelming as Christan fit me to a trombone that I still play and love to this day. What I never imagined that day was the door that was opened and the great friendship I was in for. After mountain biking with Christan during the summer the opportunity came to work here part-time while finishing my undergrad at UW-Whitewater. After graduation it was a natural progression as Edwards became my home.

At just shy of 10 years with Edwards the amount of great musicians and people I have had the pleasure of fitting makes me smile. I appreciate your trust in us. There are so of many of you that have shaped my life and kept me coming back every day. But let’s face it, playing with trombones and trumpets all day can’t be all work! Some days I would come home and tell my wife about my day. The common response was “Do you actually work at work?”

What will be the most lasting and hardest to leave is all the friends I have worked with. Their kindness, knowledge and generosity of their lives is very humbling.

Thank you all, most especially Christan.
You have been a great friend, mentor and incredibly patient boss. (Let’s continue the first two!)

Wednesday April 7th will be my last day playing with trombones and trumpets. I am off to different pastures and new challenges. I know the future here is in great hands with many new things to come.

Hopefully I will cross paths at gigs(if I write this, then maybe I will practice more) with some of you. I leave you with something that was posted here once before. It is one of my favorite thank you gifts we have received and it is from the trombone extraordinaire, eccentric, avant-garde, super-duper guy Brian Allen entitled “Domogriego”

ListenListen! (3.9 MB)

Eating Local

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I recently just returned from Tuscaloosa, AL where Edwards exhibited at The Trumpet Festival of the Southeast hosted by Eric Yates and the U of Alabama.

Great festival where I was able to attend a great performance by Phil Smith and hang with some very fine musicians. Thanks to everyone who came out and tried our trumpets!

Whenever we travel for shows and conventions we always try to eat locally. What I mean by that is to make every attempt to avoid any franchise or chain restaurant. Not only does this support more of the local economy, but the food is almost always better. Hey if we expect you to support the little guy, we need to as well.

So here is how I do it. In the past I have always asked the hotel clerk, but after some bad meals I find that they may not always have the best taste. So instead I go to Google Maps and find my hotel. Once there I use the Search Nearby. Then I proceed to type in what I am looking for. In Tuscaloosa I was looking for BBQ! Once you enter that in the closest places pop up. You can then sort by how stars the restaurants have and also read local reviews. There is a plethora of info on each place.

So where did I eat?

  • Mike & Ed’s BBQ
    No atmosphere, didn’t pretend it needed it. I had the Pork plate with Potato Salad(German Style). Came with pickles and two slices of white bread. Great sauces, I mixed and combined the Spicy and Sweet. Speaking of sweet, their Sweet Tea is great! I regret not taking a bottle of their sauce home with me.
  • Los Tarascos
    I realize this is not BBQ, but I have a spot in my heart for Mexican food. Set in a strip mall, the atmosphere is decorated with Mexican art but overall nothing but functional. First of, great salsa! Nice mix of cilantro and various spices. Hard time not just eating the chips and salsa for dinner. At the advice of the waiter I ordered what I remember to be #51. Comprised of small fajitas with guacamole, sour cream, lettuce and carrots. Tasty dish, but not easy to eat. Good food, but maybe not a destination type place.
  • Full Moon BBQ
    I was unable to take in the atmosphere of this Tuscaloosa classic as I trying to squeeze this in between packing the show back up and the Phil Smith concert. Drive-Thru! I ordered the pork plate with fries and baked beans for sides. Sauce was just right amount of tang, but plenty of sweet. The fries and beans migrated into the sauce and that was just great! Nothing beats a belly full of BBQ and listening to one of the world’s best trumpet players!
  • Chuck’s Fish
    This place was the hang after the Phil Smith concert. Being still full from the Full Moon BBQ I was reluctant, but then Rebecca Wilt informed me that they had great sushi! Big place, separate room for parties which had a jazz combo playing. Upon asking the waitress for recommendations we learned of a sushi roll that was off menu. Called the Screaming O…” it was a great mix of avocado, grilled tuna and various other items that I forget. Expensive little roll, near $13, but after finishing it, it was worth every penny.

Now you know how we gain a few extra pounds on each trip.

Keep this blog in mind and support your local businesses!

We appreciate your business as do all independents.

Using Our Contact Forms

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

If you have submitted one of our contact/order/rma forms and have not heard back from us in a timely fashion, we aren’t ignoring you! Our spam filters have been working overtime lately and we’ve been finding quite a few emails in spam folders.

Please feel free to call to tell us that you emailed and did not hear a response. We’ll then be able to find your email and answer all of your trombone/trumpet questions.

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