Brass, Reeds, and Percussion

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is WLRH’s longest running program, started in 1976 by musician Darryl Adams,  and as the name suggests—is a program about music for the wind band (as opposed to the orchestra).  The program, hosted by John Hightower, features music composed for the instruments of the typical American high school band or the typical American military band. Brass, Reeds and Percussion also provides information about local wind-band performances, players, and history.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion airs every Saturday at 1 p.m. Follow Brass, Reeds and Percussion on Facebook.


Darryl G. Adams, March 30, 1939 - October 18, 2011

Darryl Adams originated Brass, Reeds, and Percussion and used this hourly program to share a love of John Phillips Sousa marches, wind-band peformances, and seasonal celebrations.  (His St. Patrick's Day episode was always a hit.) He hosted the program from 1976 until his death 2011. WLRH's earliest roots thrive thanks to Darryl sharing his energy and talents with our Tennessee Valley listening community. Darryl was a rare champion for music who helped start one of WLRH's greatest traditions. We'll always be proud to have his association.

Local Wind Bands

Twickenham Winds

Brass Band of Huntsville

Rocket City Jazz Orchestra

Old Towne Brass

Huntsville Concert Band

Madison Community Band


Shoals Community Concert Band

The Rocketeers Drum and Bugle Corps


Local College Bands:

Alabama A&M University Band

University of Alabama in Huntsville Wind Ensemble

University of North Alabama Bands



High School Bands and Orchestras ... 

Bob Jones High School Band

Grissom High School Band

Huntsville High School Band

Meridianville Middle School Band

Hazel Green High School Band

Johnson High School Band

James Clemons High School Band

Austin High School Band

Sparkman High School Band

Lee High School Band

Buckhorn High School Band

Madison County High School Band

New Hope High School Band

If your musical organization is not listed on our page, please send contact information to John Hightower at

To arrange to have your event announced on BRP, e-mail John Hightower at or you can submit your non-profit event to our website. To arrange for a public service announcement to run throughout WLRH’s broadcast day, please submit your request on the WLRH PSA program page. 


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: January 18, 2010

Saturday, January 18, 2020

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion opens with Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks performing the 1917 hit “Back Home in Indiana.” The song regularly opens the Indianapolis 500. The music was written by James Hanley, who was born in Rensselaer, Indiana, in 1892. After serving in WW I, he went on to become a vaudeville accompanist and to write songs for Broadway and movies. The words were written by Ballard MacDonald, born in Portland Oregon in 1882. He wrote the lyrics for other popular songs and for Broadway productions.

Bass, Reeds, and Percussion: January 11, 2020

Saturday, January 11, 2020

One hundred years ago, popular music was jazz. It was born in New Orleans, but soon moved to Chicago, where it became hot. Both black and white New Orleans musicians moved to Chicago to perform. But the composer of today's opening number on Brass, Reeds, and Percussion was not from New Orleans, but from Emandale, Indiana. Born in 1902, Jack Pettis taught himself how to play the C-melody saxophone as a teenager.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: January 4, 2020

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Japanese drums, klezmer, hot jazz from the 1920s, and traditional marches: they all can be heard on this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 28, 2019)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Drag, stomp, bump, shuffle, scuffle, ramble, and swing—all of these are dances from the 1920s. Because the 2020s are beginning Wednesday, this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will be airing dance music from the 1920s—all performed by wind bands—although mostly by smaller ensembles. At least three of the bands you’ll hear perform music from the 1920s by reconstructing recordings from that period.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 21, 2019)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

In 1953, much popular music was wind-band music. That's certainly the case with the big Christmas hit of 1953: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." After all, the song even has a bassoon solo. Gayla Peevy was only 10 years old when she sang the song on the Ed Sullivan Show. It's popularity even inspired a movement to actually get Peevy a hippopotamus for Christmas. After receiving the hippo, Peevy donated it the local Oklahoma City Zoo, where the hippo lived for the next 50 years. The song has been revived and recorded at least seven more times.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 14, 2019)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

In 2013, a movie inspired us to revisit music from the 1920s: The Great Gatsby. And since the 2020s start in only a few weeks, Brass, Reeds, and Percussion has been motivated to play music from the 1920s. We’ll begin with the “Black Bottom Stop” by Jelly Roll Morton, who lived from 1890 to 1941. The “Black Bottom Stomp” was written in the same year that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his novel; that is, 1925. But it was first recorded the next year.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 7, 2019)

Saturday, December 7, 2019

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion tells the story of “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and the trumpet player who sang it. In 1944, Donald Gardner was teaching music in the public schools of Smithtown, New York. He asked his second-grade class what they wanted for Christmas and noticed that almost all of them answered with a lisp because they were missing at least one front tooth.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 30, 2019)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins the Christmas season with a special thanks to the New Zealand Army Band , who has supplied WLRH with a copy of their CD entitled "Christmas." We will be airing selections from this album during December.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 23, 2019)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features two jazz standards by Juan Tizol: “Caravan” and “Perdido.” Juan Tizol was born in Puerto Rico in 1900. In 1920, he stowed away on a ship to get to Washington, D.C., where he played his trombone to accompany silent movies. Then he met Duke Ellington and became a member of his band. He was the person who copied out many of the parts for the other musicians to play. But he also composed and brought Latin music influences into the Ellington band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 16, 2019)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Born in Bohemia in 1800, Andreas Leonhardt became a member of an Austro-Hungarian empire Army band age 18. He eventually became a Army bandmaster, but left the military for a while. But at age 50, he was put in charge of all of all the empire’s army bands. Along the way, he wrote a number of great marches. One march was written to honor Czar Alexander when he visited Berlin. The “Alexander March” was so well liked that it became an official German army march.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 9, 2019)

Saturday, November 9, 2019

With this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, we will begin airing recordings of music from the 1920s made by Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks. We’ll hear two recordings from his Quality Shout album. To record the album, musicians listened to original recordings from the 1920s and wrote down the parts for the instruments as they played. The objective was to record a modern version of the songs with up-to-date digital equipment.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 2, 2019)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A contemporary of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, the Czech composer Franz Krommer is today famous for his woodwind compositions. He was born in Moravia in 1859. He studied violin and piano and eventually also worked as an church organist. In 1813, he became the last director of chamber music and court composer to the Austro-Hungarian emperors. He remained in this post until his death in Vienna on January 8, 1831. He composed more than 300 works, including symphonies, concertos, and string quintets.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 26, 2019)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The shawm is the predecessor of the oboe. While most of Europe transitioned from shawms to oboes around 1700, the shawm has remained alive an well in Catalonia, Spain. The oboe has a more mellow sound; the Catalan shawm is louder and more piercing.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 12, 2019)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Richard Wagner’s opera Lohengrin was first performed in 1850. It’s the story of Elsa, who is wrongly accused of murder in the political shenanigans of Brabant. She is rescued by the knight Lohengrin, whom she marries.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 5, 2019)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Robert Jager was born in 1939 in Binghamton, New York. Eventually he became the band director at Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Jager is a composer, music theorist, and conductor. His works are played throughout the world by various orchestras, bands, choruses, and chamber ensembles. From 1962 to 1965, he was arranger and composer for the U.S. Navy Armed Forces School of Music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 28, 2019)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

John Philip Sousa called him the father of band music in America. His major contribution to the American march was the use of counter melodies. His name is David Wallis Reeves or Wally Reeves. He was born in Oswego, New York, in 1838. He began his musical career playing the alto horn, but ultimately switched to the cornet. By the time of his death in 1900, he had written over 100 compositions.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 21, 2019)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

True brass bands have only brass instruments and percussion. No woodwinds. They got their start as a means of providing recreation for factory workers in Great Britain. Hence, the name of today’s first band to be heard: the Black Dyke Mills Band. One of the great British brass band composers is George Allan, who lived from 1864 to 1930. As a child, he started singing in the church choir, but the choir master suggested he join the town band to further his musical education.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 14, 2019)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Josef Suk is a Czech composer and violinist who had an interesting relationship with Antonin Dvorak. He was Dvorak’s favorite pupil and married Dvorak’s daughter. Before Suk became Dvorak's student, Suk's father taught him how to play the violin, piano, and organ. Suk is considered a modernist Czech composer, although his early works clearly show the influence of Dovrak. Dvorak and Suk’s wife died within 14 months of each other, a tragic event that inspired Suk to compose his Ashreal Symphony. Ashreal is the angel of death in the Bible.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 7, 2019)

Saturday, September 7, 2019

In recognition of the arrival of marching band season, otherwise known as football season, Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins today’s edition with “Jamboree Jones,” a ballad written by Johnny Mercer. Mercer was born in 1909 in Savannah, Georgia, and is famous as a Tin-Pin Alley composer and lyricist. He composed over 1500 songs and received 19 Academy Award nominations. He won four Academy Awards for Best Original Song.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 31, 2019)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Ira Hearshen was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1948. He was a trumpet player who began making arrangements for wind band. In fact, one of his first arrangements was "Along Comes Mary" for the Wayne State University Marching Band. After "gigging" in the Detroit area, he moved to Los Angeles in 1972, where he also did "gig" work. In 1983, he finally got an opportunity to do some arranging for Hollywood, and he has steadily worked as an arranger and orchestrator since.




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