Ridgefield Symphony benefit: Chris Brubeck will keep it lively

by Lois Street 
It’s a matter of keeping live music alive!

Chris Brubeck and his band Triple Play – praised by critics for “top-notch musicianship” and “show-stealing flair” — will take the stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Saturday, April 15, at 8 p.m.

The trio known for its vivid repertoire of folk, blues, jazz, standards and innovative original works will be playing to benefit Ridgefield’s largest live performing group, the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, numbering 65 core musicians.

“Chris and Triple Play are incredibly talented and versatile musicians,” said Laurie Kenagy, RSO’s executive director.

Mr. Brubeck, a Wilton resident, commented about his band in an email: “Triple Play has a real gift for communicating with audiences of all ages and musical tastes. We give concerts throughout the world, and people respond to the joy we bring to the music.”

He believes live music will remain vitally important in the future. “Making and sharing music together is something in our genes. Audiences want to feel the excitement of hearing and witnessing the creation of music. Whether it’s rock ’n’ roll, jazz, classical, blues, folk or funk, music is the universal language which provides instant communication!”

Son of the late jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck will play some of his father’s works at the Playhouse event. But the versions will be “very different arrangements of some of Dave Brubeck’s most famous tunes: Blue Rondo a la Turk, Take Five, Unsquare Dance and several more,” he said.

Triple Play will also offer some of the great American songs along with blues classics by Robert Johnson and originals by the trio itself. Each member of Triple Play has mastered a variety of instruments: Mr. Brubeck (electric bass, bass trombone, piano); Peter “Madcat” Ruth (harmonica, guitar, jaw harp, percussion), and Joel Brown (folk and classical acoustic guitar). All three musicians do vocals.

At the April 15 concert Chappaqua resident Frank Shiner will kick off the festivities with his special brand of blue-eyed soul, performing selections from his new album,Lonely Town, Lonely Street. Mr. Shiner has won two Los Angeles Music Critic awards.

Another indispensable member of the Triple Play group is Tish Brubeck, Chris Brubeck’s wife. After 21 years as a legal administrator, Ms. Brubeck left the firm “so I could apply my skills to managing Chris’s business, which includes his two bands as well as his publishing company.”

In handling Mr. Brubeck’s performances, “I book the travel for him and the groups, coordinating details for tours, which include preparing contracts, interacting with concert venues, correspondence, and generally taking care of things,” she said.

Not only are Mr. Brubeck’s bands in demand, but “almost every day I receive inquiries from around the world from orchestras or soloists who want to perform Chris’s music.”

A silent auction is also part of the RSO fundraiser: A 12-day “Danube Reflections” river cruise offered by Tauck Tours; a Cape Cod Resort Vacation week offered by the Couri family; the use of a chauffeured BMW for one night, including dinner for two, sponsored by BMW of Ridgefield; and a two-and-a-half hour “Give Glow” spa package, donated by Adam Broderick Salon and Spa, are among the prizes. Online bidding is available prior to the event through the RSO website at ridgefieldsymphony.org. Bidding will continue through the evening of the concert.

It’s not the first time the Ridgefield Symphony and Mr. Brubeck have collaborated. Last year the orchestra board commissioned him to compose a piece for full orchestra along with the SPHERE organization (Special People’s Housing, Education, Recreation and Employment) of Ridgefield. The resulting piece, Sphere of Influence, was performed to much acclaim from a capacity audience at the RSO’s opening concert last October.

After such a successful collaboration, the RSO decided to forgo the dinner-dance gala that had been its traditional annual fundraiser. The board asked Mr. Brubeck to headline a benefit concert instead.

Donna Case, co-chair of the RSO’s board of directors, points out that the cost of maintaining the orchestra runs about $400,000 a year. Ticket sales cover only about 25% of that total.

“We hope everyone will join us for an evening of great live music to support live music,” Ms. Case said. “Bring your friends and neighbors!”

Tickets are $75 and available at ridgefieldplayhouse.org or by calling 203-438-5795. For more information, call Ridgefield Symphony office at 203-438-3889. And, said Kenagy, “if you are unable to attend the concert, donations can be made to the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra at ridgefieldsymphony.org or by calling the RSO at 203-438-3889.”