By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Father and son, Joey and Jami Berg, share a love of music, and play trumpet together in the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band.
“I enjoy it more than he does having him with at concerts,” Joey said of being in a band with his son.
Although Jami enjoys playing in the band, “I enjoy singing more than playing the trumpet,” he said.
Both Joey and Jami are also part of a men’s quartet that meets Tuesday mornings and sings at their church occasionally.
“One of these days, we will sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at some sporting event,” Joey noted of the quartet.
Joey has been playing with the band since 1979, about two years after it was formed. Jami has played in the band since he was a junior in high school, taking time off here and there.
The whole Berg family is musical, and the children grew up with music.
“Being a musical family probably started with your parents,” Jami said to Joey, whose mother, Vickie Berg has been teaching piano and organ lessons to area residents for years.
Joey’s three children took piano lessons from their grandmother. Admittedly, Jami was not the biggest fan, “but it made it easy to read music,” he said.
His sister, Cari, was the more accomplished pianist, Jami noted.
Duane Berg, Joey’s father and Jami’s grandfather, was a singer and played the sousaphone.
As the Berg children were growing up, they witnessed their father, Joey playing the trumpet for the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band, and their mother, Connie, playing the French horn.
They joined the band after reading about it in the newspaper.
“The grandparents were willing to babysit for a few hours on Monday nights, so we decided to go,” Joey said.
The couple showed up for a practice, and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the band, Joey said.
“There were at least six trumpets, and four tubas,” he noted.
Connie played with the band for a few years, and all three children, Jami, Cari, and Candice played with the band while in high school.
“Candice was probably the most accomplished musician,” Jami said, noting she went to all-state in high school playing the baritone.
However, Joey pointed out that Jami went to all-state two years in high school for choir. Cari played the flute in band.
“Everybody on dad’s side of the family is musical,” Jami said.
The family sings, and plays horns and the organ at church Christmas day, and there is singing during Christmas family gatherings, accompanied by piano and flute.
As a gift to Duane and Vickie, the family once recorded two CDs of Christmas songs and hymns.
Joey began playing the trumpet as a fifth-grader in the Annandale School District, played all through high school, and continued in college at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (U of M).
“Really, the thing I liked most about being at the U was the marching band,” Joey said.
The Gopher marching band director was Fred Nyline, and director of bands was Frank Bencriscutto, Joey added.
Although he worked towards a degree in mathematics at the U of M’s Institute of Technology, Berg went home to be a dairy farmer before finishing college.
As a junior in high school, Joey and the three other trumpet players all bought brand-new trumpets.
One day, Joey inadvertently left the trumpet sitting on the top riser, and it fell off.
“It was like it happened in slow motion,” Joey said of watching the trumpet fall, receiving bending the bell and jamming in the mouthpiece.
Fortunately, the band director had a tool specifically for loosening jammed mouthpieces. But Joey recalls him “swearing” and asking, “Man, how did you get this in so tight?”
A cone-shaped piece of wood was used to straighten the trumpet bell.
Today, Jami still uses that trumpet, and began playing it as a fifth-grader in the Howard Lake-Waverly School District.
After graduating high school, Jami went to the Association Free Lutheran Bible School (AFBLS) in Medicine Lake in Plymouth for two years.
At the school, he had the privilege of playing in the band under the direction of Jerry Nelson, who now lives in Dassel, but no longer directs at AFBLS.
“He had a passion for music, and put together a small brass ensemble, as well,” Jami said.
Throughout the years, participating in the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band has given Joey and Jami the opportunity to play with talented musicians and at places they would otherwise not have experienced.
For instance, the band played at Harriet Island for a number of years, and at Ridgedale a number of times.
The band also showcased all Schmitt Music’s new music one year during a music clinic. It played for at least three hours, and received a lot of music, which it shares with the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School band.
Joey enjoys playing in Roseville, which has a “wonderful facility, nice bandshell.”
One summer, Joey had the opportunity to participate in the Mid-Minnesota Quintet, substituting for Maury Main. Other members of the quintet included Dave Gleason on the bass horn, Stan Galstad on the French horn, Duane Dickey on trombone, and Jackie Kuhns on trumpet.
A moment that gave Joey goose bumps was playing “Buglers’s Holiday” at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. “The way the sound reverberated that was something else,” Joey said.
“The most exciting thing for me was when Dave Gleason came back to direct (for Mid-Minnesota Concert Band’s 35th anniversary),” Jami said.
He noted that most musicians get frustrated when being stopped after two measures because something has to be fixed. “Not me. I was just giddy I was learning something,” he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing the trumpet,” Joey said. “If I wouldn’t be a part of the band, a person wouldn’t play enough to keep it up.”