Arts & Entertainment

Tubadours to take the stage at First Night

There are troubadours, and then there are the Tri-City Tubadours.

The tuba players will be among the dozens of musical acts to spice up this year's First Night Tri-Cities on New Year's Eve in Pasco.

The group spans a wide range of ages and occupations -- teachers, nuclear safety engineers, Hanford workers and students. And they know how to make beautiful tuba music together, said tuba man Mark Armstrong, a retired band teacher.

"We are a group of baritone/euphonium tuba players who want to play more than just once a year at our TubaChristmas concert," Armstrong said. "So, we formed about two years ago and began practicing together on a once-a-month basis."

Now, the group performs more frequently with appearances at local retirement centers and the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo parade. It even performed the national anthem at Tri-City Dust Devil baseball games.

A musical group with only tuba players might seem a bit odd, and it's a challenge to find music pieces just for tubas, he added.

"I was able to obtain two books from a group back in Minnesota where they have a huge tuba festival in the summer," Armstrong said. "The music was largely German-based with some patriotic music included, as well as some standard hymns."

But the Tubadours weren't about to pigeonhole themselves into performing the same old music concert after concert, so Armstrong not only broadened their repertoire to include marches, classical music and holiday tunes, but also those lively polkas.

"We range in age from older than dirt to 13 years of age," he quipped. "So we are quite a diverse group of people who just enjoy playing our instruments."

Besides Armstrong, who is 69, others in the group include George Roper, 65, of Othello; Bill Grams, 64, of Kennewick; Paul Beaudet, 64, of Kennewick; Phillip Simpson, 49, of Kennewick; and Melanie Bricker, 13, a student at Southridge High School in Kennewick.

The Tri-Cities Tubadours perform at 5:45 p.m. on New Year's Eve in the atrium of the Lee Thornton Building on the CBC campus.

Also performing that night will be headline act Vocal Trash, which has made a noisy success of themselves banging away on all sorts of materials, such as car parts, trash can lids, water bottles, barrels, pots and pans, buckets and brooms.

Vocal Trash performs two shows -- at 7 and 10:45 p.m. -- in the CBC gym.

Other featured entertainers include the hilariously funny master hypnotist Jerry Harris, award-winning Las Vegas entertainer Michael Cagle, Skweez the Weezle Celtic band, Kamiakin High's Glee-esque VIBE singing group, rock band Cruise Control, comedian Adam Kessler, steeldrum bands Bram Brata and OK2Botay and the An Daire Irish Dance troupe.

Musical entertainment starts at 5 p.m. and ends just before the fireworks show at midnight. Admission requires a First Night Tri-Cities button. There is no charge to witness the outdoor fireworks entertainment, which is where all the food vendors are.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;