- February 6, 2013
The drummer and bass guitarist launch into the downbeat and set the tempo for the rest of the ensemble gathered on this Saturday morning in December on a bright yet humble stage in the sanctuary of St. Andrew United Church of Christ. The other musicians assembled onstage come in with their parts, constructing a funky groove. Then the trumpet player lights upon the song and adds unmistakable fire. Though it may seem odd for a band of local musicians to rehearse the riff to Sam & Dave’s classic “Hold On, I’m Comin’” inside a church sanctuary, everything about it seems right thanks to the Jacobites Pipe & Drum Band’s dynamic and energetic leader and front man, Gary Reinstrom.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Reinstrom and his family moved from the boroughs of the Big Apple to the warmer, quieter locale of Sarasota when he was 10 years old. He’s been an active member of Sarasota’s music scene ever since. Reinstrom, with his two groups, the Jacobites Pipe & Drum Band (a bagpipe/rock band group) and the First Brass (a classical brass ensemble), spreads a love and passion for music and performance that is intoxicating. With his tall and imposing frame, Reinstrom is Sarasota’s own bombastic Harold Hill (albeit without any con man schemes), spreading a love and joy of music and recruiting beginners and retired pros alike to perform live.
Reinstrom’s family initially inspired his musical aspirations: His grandfather was an active tuba and accordion player and his uncle played the guitar. But it was his musical teachers who encouraged him to embrace performing.
“I had great public school music teachers when I was growing up,” says Reinstrom. “My teachers at Gulf Gate Elementary, Brookside Middle School, Riverview High School and Paul Wolfe at the Sarasota Orchestra were so supportive and got me excited to play and continue encouraging Sarasota musicians I knew who wanted to play in public.”
At the beginning of Reinstrom’s music career he needed that support while playing the challenging and unromantic French horn while his brother practiced on the more popular trumpet.
“I’d be sitting in my room hearing my brother in the next room making these loud and booming sounds on his trumpet, and I’d be playing my French horn and all these unnatural sounds would come out of it,” says Reinstrom.
After consistent practice, Reinstrom realized he was hooked on the rush of performance.
“Just being recognized for being good at something was fantastic,” says Reinstrom. “When the audience is moved and I know they’re going to be moved and I can push their buttons and release emotion through music, it makes performing and practicing worth it.”
Reinstrom continued his instrumental studies at the University of Southern Florida. There he would play in student ensembles as well as orchestras. After graduation, Reinstrom worked as an instrumentalist for hire in the Sarasota area; he played in the Sarasota Orchestra, the Venice Symphony and returned to his former elementary and secondary schools to teach the next generation of budding performers.
Reinstrom started his most recent endeavor, the First Brass, in summer 2012 when the band leader wanted to whet his musical appetite with an all-brass ensemble. He gathered six musicians who were his peers and former students. Over the past two years, the collection of musicians has grown from an original group of six to a rotating collection of around two dozen musicians, with Reinstrom at the helm offering his patented level of exuberance and musical expertise. Reinstrom and company hope to become a professional squad.
“I want our brass group to be like the Denver Brass and as busy as the Sarasota Orchestra,” says Reinstrom.
Reinstrom stresses the importance of having a group such as the First Brass for Sarasota musicians.
“I used to think it was about the music,” says Reinstrom, “but it’s become about the relationships and encouraging Sarasota musicians who want to play. It’s all about that collaboration in the room.”