Travel: Old Horn Players Never Die, They Come to Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove, as I’ve written about in the last few days, is a Methodist camp town on the Jersey shore. Wood frame Victorian houses, some quite stunning and some modest, are packed tightly together along the narrow streets. There is a vibrant, if small, main part of town with shops and restaurants and banks and ice cream shops that draw lines of 50+ people. No bars — the town remains dry. These days you can BYO, but no liquor is sold within town limits. The place is very white, and patriotism is intertwined with overt displays of religion. The center of town is the 6000 seat auditorium, over 100 years old, which hosts nationally known preachers and religious services as well as numerous secular concerts — you have to pay for keeping up these old buildings, after all. I asked one of the ushers, old white men in blue shirts and khakis, when the hall is filled. He said, “We get some big name preachers, and people come from all over for their services. The Beach Boys, too. They fill the place up.”

There is one original Beach Boy left performing with the group. Linda and Ron and I saw the Beach Boys on TV on July 4th, and they still manage to crank out the original sound. 🙂 Glad to hear they are still beloved by people of a certain age, including camp town Methodists.

On Thursday night Linda, Ron, their friend Elena and I went to the first performance of a Classical Music Series to which they have tickets. Performing was a group called imperial Brass, featuring celebrity guest Phil Smith, former Principal Trumpet for the New York Philharmonic. Jazz cornetist Warren Vache’ also soloed. The performance, led by conductor Ronald Waiksnoris, began with a Bible reading and short reflection, and ended with a rousing God Bless America complete with a huge flag that lights up. Honestly, it was mind blowing for me — talk about culture shock.

Imperial Brass began as the Rutgers Alumni Brass Band, and they play a varied program of popular and patriotic and classical sounds.

There are capabilities that decline as we age. But clearly you can be old and still blow a horn with a liquid, magical sound. As I said in the title, old horn players never die. They just come to Ocean Grove.

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