Ted Reese is quick to point out that No Last Call, the street band he helped create, isn’t related in any way to the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, where he works as director of development.
“There’s no connection, and since they’re all professionals and we’re all amateurs, I wouldn’t want anyone to hold it against the symphony after hearing No Last Call play,” Reese said.
With close to 30 members — mostly “former marching band geeks” — on its roster, No Last Call is infamous for showing up “unannounced and uninvited” in downtown Harrisburg, playing on street corners, outside restaurants and even in the occasional pub, Reese said.
Its hit-and-run repertoire is what you’re likely to hear in the stands at high school and college football games: rock and pop standards such as “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Thriller,” “Timber,” “Uptown Funk” and “Dream On.”
“Our real mission — and where we really have fun — is just showing up for an unannounced ‘honk’ somewhere.”
No Last Call got its start in 2009 when Reese and fellow trumpet player Doug Wilburne, vice president of investor relations at aviation company Textron Inc., heard about a similar street band in Providence, R.I. After discussing the possibilities, the duo rounded up a few friends. They dug their trombones, saxes and clarinets out of the attic, began rehearsing on the sly and eventually started sounding like an ensemble.
Reese joked that one of the reasons the band targets downtown restaurants and pubs, aside from the ready-made crowds, is that “we sound awesome to people who’ve been drinking.”
But the inebriated aren’t its only audience. The band also has played private parties, wedding receptions and community parades and festivals. It even opened for the award-winning MarchFourth Marching Band in Harrisburg, and played at a festival in Providence, R.I.
“It’s become much more of a business than we anticipated,” Reese said. “We take the paid gigs so we can sustain the band, buy equipment and occasionally reimburse the members for gas money. But our real mission — and where we really have fun — is just showing up for an unannounced ‘honk’ somewhere. You never know where we’ll be next.”
Editor’s Note: Larry Portzline is a member of No Last Call.