Five talented Oak Harbor teens have joined forces to start a brass band that plays exuberant, irresistibly catchy music – and people are taking notice.
The cheekily named Kick-Brass formed while all the members were in middle school. Despite starting less than a year ago, the band has played a myriad of shows and venues, inducing the most recent Oak Harbor Music Festival, Musselfest, and a Raise the Roof fundraiser show at the Roller Barn. They have even auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.”
Kick-Brass specializes in a somewhat new genre of music known as brasshouse. Brasshouse features horn instruments accompanied by a full drum kit, creating an upbeat blend of jazz, funk and house music.
The band consists of four Oak Harbor High School freshmen – Ethan Tang on baritone saxophone, Colton Gehring on sousaphone, Oliver Abercrombie on tenor saxophone and Jake Bailey on trumpet. Drummer Mya Grymes, an 8th grader at North Whidbey Middle School, completes the lineup.
All of the kids began playing instruments in school band. Genevieve Ramey, Gehring’s mom, reminisced on the origins of the band.
“They started coming over to my house to have sleepovers and – you can quote me – these little nerds would show up with their instruments,” she said with a laugh.
Tang was inspired to have these jam sessions by bands that have essentially created the brasshouse genre: Lucky Chops and Too Many Zooz. He shared the music with classmates Gehring and Bailey.
“They responded really well to it,” Tang said.
Abercrombie picked up the tenor sax specifically to join the band.
“I started out on trumpet and these guys adopted me,” he said.
Grymes, who steadily provides the backing beat for the boys, was soon added to the mix.
“We all quickly became friends, more just out of a love for music,” Bailey said.
A couple months after forming, the band was asked to play an 8th grade dance at North Whidbey Middle School in June of 2022. Ever since then, the quintet has really taken off. If you see them live, it’s easy to see why.
All of the kids have incredible energy and stage presence, especially Tang, who dances and jumps an impressive amount considering the size of his baritone sax and the fact that he never seems to miss a note.
Online, the band’s YouTube channel has over 1,000 subscribers. A video of a performance at their high school talent show has amassed a tremendous 150,000 views.
Kick-Brass primarily plays covers, mixing melodies of popular songs such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Funkytown.” The kids list a wide variety of musical influences, from Nirvana to the Beatles to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
They’ve written one original song so far and have a few more in the works. Tang spearheads these efforts but all members contribute.
Their favorite shows have been the Oak Harbor Music Festival and the Roller Barn.
“It’s a lot more energetic, you can interact with people more,” Tang said of the Barn.
Kick-Brass plays at Orlando’s Southern BBQ on Bayshore Drive once a month. They drew a large crowd on a weekday night, complete with many supportive family members and friends. Their next show is at 5 p.m. on April 20.
While it is clear the band puts a lot of time and effort into their music, they said they are discovering the logistical difficulty of balancing school, extracurriculars, five different schedules and the fact that none of them can drive yet.
In the meantime, all members are feeling pretty confident about their “America’s Got Talent” audition. In April, they find out if they’ll get to make a trip to Hollywood.
“We’re not sword swallowers or magicians, but I think we still have a shot,” Bailey quipped.
All of the kids are sure Kick-Brass will continue throughout their high school careers, and they have a strong interest in recording their own music. The future of the band looks brassy.