The Mile High Freedom Band wants to be the caffeine that perks people up after a winter of hibernation. It brings its Winter Wake-Up show to the Broomfield Auditorium on Saturday.
Clark Vander Broek, who is on the band's board and will play trumpet in the concert, said the band does a winter concert every year with traditional band music.
"We tried to pick more lively, fun tunes to play ... to get people out of their winter doldrums," he said.
Vander Broek admitted the idea of waking people is primarily due to the conundrum of "what do you do with a winter concert?"
The group has chosen a variety of concert band standards it thinks have the pep to get a jump on spring, including "Poet and Peasant Overture," "William Byrd Suite," "March of the Belgian Paratroopers," and "Pineapple Poll Suite."
The band has been around for more than two decades now, since 1984, when Bob Brown gathered instrumentalists for a "gay and lesbian community band" that debuted at the Denver Gay Rodeo. Its big public performance was at the Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade the following year. It has grown in both prestige and popularity, and includes everyone from across the spectrum -- many musicians and audience members are heterosexual.
Though not directly linked, as the band's popularity continues to grow, Colorado has shifted its perception of homosexuals in recent years. A poll by Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling from December 2011 showed more Coloradans favored gay marriage than the year prior, with 47 percent of respondents stating they believe same-sex marriage should be legal and 43 percent stating it should be illegal. When PPP last polled on the issue in Colorado in August 2011, voters were split at 45 percent. Seventy-six percent of the 793 Colorado voters polled in December 2011 supported civil unions.
Broomfield City Councilman Bob Gaiser is openly gay. As part of a story about the growing acceptance of gay officials, in November he told the Denver Post that his sexuality has never been an issue in Broomfield, where voters are more concerned with who can improve the roads.
The band isn't about the politics of being gay in Colorado, however, its goal is to provide audiences with good music and provide musicians with the chance to perform.
"We're open to all, just like we'd like the rest of the world to be," Vander Broek said.
The band doesn't even have auditions -- anyone who wants to play can join.
For Vander Broek, music is one of the few times he can relax and not think about anything but the music. He also likes the communal aspect of having everyone collaborating and working together toward a common goal.
"How often does that happen at work?" he said.
This will be the third time the band has played in Broomfield, and it keeps coming back for the venue. Like a lot of people who perform at the Auditorium, Vander Broek cited the helpful staff, as well rental costs that are lower than other venues.
In addition to the concert band, the group also has a swing band, marching band and smaller ensembles. The concert band is composed of 45 to 50 musicians.
"The marching band has fewer, because not everyone wants to march," Vander Broek said.
Saturday's performance will mark the debut of the Mile High Freedom Band's percussion ensemble, a mixture of non-tonal drums, including tom-toms, snare and parade drums, with bells, xylophone, chimes and timpani providing the melody. The ensemble will premiere a piece by band member Justin Hatcher called "Double Helix."
Vander Broek said the piece is very "Lady GaGa-esque" and quite entertaining.