The Early Years
The Kamloops Big Band was formed in 1969 by Gordon Waters for a dance to raise money for the Rube Band trip to Japan. Although it was originally made up of mostly Rube Band members, local musician Ken Almond enlisted others over the years, (after the departure of Waters), and the group slowly transitioned into what it is today. It achieved Society Status on Feb. 28th, 1990, and became a non-profit group representing Kamloops’ Big Band enthusiasts. Choosing from the hundreds of songs and arrangements in their repertoire, the KBB delivers a performance with a wide variety of styles.
The musicians in the KBB range from amateur, semi-professional to professional, and the ensemble also has a large span in the age groups, as younger musicians take an interest and fill up the open positions. Originally the big band practiced in the upstairs of the Elks Auditorium, later moving to the basement of the Elks by the early 1980’s. Around 1983, our current lead trumpet player Mike Whitehouse, joined the ensemble, followed in 1984 by current Musical Director and lead trombonist Ken McClelland. The current 1st Alto, Don Setka, joined sometime later and the framework for the current KBB horn sections was in place.
Over the years we have had a lot of members come and go. Early players include: Ken Almond, Bobby Lee, Gord Drinkwater, Dick Forde, Phil Gagne, Eddy Holmes, Buck Buchannan, Claude Richmond, Ken Bechelli, Gary Fillinger, Bill Nickoli, Wayne Nickoli, Bill Long, Gordon Weeks, Vince Kong, Dave Naismith, Jim and Pat Johannsen, Marlene Greer, Dwaine Allen, Gina Netherway, Rod Tachuk, Romain Newman, Frank Hosak, Jack Bloom, Rob Wilson, Ian Robertson. More recent members: Don Bennett, Sally Arai, Steve Griffith, Sharon Wade, Tonja Whitehouse, Rory Froese, Lynn Roste, Amanda Pycock, Samantha Lloyd, Wendy Brun and Rees Andrew.
In 2016 the Kamloops Big Band made a some changes including a new name. We are now called Beyond Brass Big Band. We play numerous events throughout the year – Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, Christmas concerts at a few retirement residences, community events, weddings and each July find us at Riverside Park in Kamloops as part of the summer long Music in the Park celebration.
Band photo taken some time in the early 1980’s. From left to right:
Front row: Dave (Whitey) Lancaster, Al LaChance, Bobby Lee, Gord Drinkwater, Ian Robertson, Willy Ward, Bill Long.
Back row: Paddy Harrington, Ken Almond (band leader), Brad Schapansky, Ken Bechelli, Ken McClelland, (unknown), Neil Tarr, Mike Whitehouse, Dick Forde, Rod Thachuk.