The roundabout in Manitou Springs is now a stage. Just go with it.
That’s what the Christmas Brass Band had to do this year to keep their longtime tradition alive. Usually, the quartet plays festive music at different spots around town. On weekends in December, they played walking concerts along downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.
“We’d stroll and stop to play a few tunes,” said Christina Van Camp, the band’s leader and one of two trombone players. “And keep strolling.”
Van Camp, who plays in several bands including The Bare Bones Trombone Choir, joined the Christmas Brass Band a few years back. She says some version of it has been around for decades.
“It started probably just to spread Christmas cheer,” she said.
This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Van Camp and the band made up of rotating musicians had to improvise.
They decided it would be safer to have stationary shows rather than stroll around. They just had to pick a place.
They landed on the high-traffic area of the Ruxton Avenue roundabout in Manitou, as suggested by the town’s Chamber of Commerce.
The band kicked off their monthlong stretch of Sunday afternoon shows this past weekend playing their instruments for people walking by and eating outside at nearby restaurants. And a lot of cars going around the circular intersection, which Van Camp calls “an interesting location” for live music.
While Van Camp described the band’s debut on the roundabout as “a bit cold,” she sees the upside.
“You kind of get a larger audience, because of how busy it is,” she said. “Everyone driving through gets a little glimpse.”
As the band, made up of two trombonists and two trumpet players, wore Santa hats and cycled through Christmas classics like “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells,” some onlookers crossed the street to get photos and videos of the action.
“People are really excited to hear live music,” she said. “It’s not too common right now.”
Van Camp has had to be creative with her other band, the Bare Bones Trombone Choir. It usually plays one indoor Christmas show, but has expanded to playing several outdoor shows this season. The lineup included a set at the Festival of Lights Parade and an upcoming date at Bancroft Park.
“It’s great to keep people feeling happy and raise their spirits,” she said. “And it’s nice to have a little bit of normalcy right now.”
For her, it’s also nice to play some Christmas favorites.
“It’s always kind of nostalgic,” she said. “You can’t not be cheerful and play Christmas music.”