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Meet Kristin Anderson-Bohan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Anderson-Bohan.

Hi Kristin, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I have been a drummer since third grade when I started playing snare drum, then learning drum set and percussion throughout junior high and high school. Over the years, I have played with many types of ensembles including marching band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, orchestra and pit orchestra, concert band, and wind ensemble. I began leading the Crystal Swing Band in 1988 when I assumed leadership of the predecessor band when the leader retired and moved to Arizona.

The band plays big band 1930s and 1940s swing, recreating the sounds of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Harry James, and other great big bands. The band can vary in size from a trio up to a 13-piece big band. Being able to provide different size bands makes us adaptable to all types of events and budgets. We perform at concerts, weddings, dances, benefits, festivals, and holiday parties, to name a few.

I also started The Vibe Tribe, a Dixieland band, in 1992 which features vibraphone, clarinet, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums. While this band plays some of the swing tunes the Crystal Swing Band does, we also play more traditional Dixieland music and are often booked for Mardi Gras-themed parties, concerts, fairs, and festivals.

Both bands have had many longstanding gigs which point to customer satisfaction and the appeal of our music to all ages. Repeat performances have included the Boulder Creek Festival, Louisville Fourth of July, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Longmont Jazz Festival, YMCA of the Rockies Summerfest, The Mercury Café, and The Avalon Ballroom.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There are so many bands now that even if you get booked on a concert series, they may only book you once a year or once every couple of years in order to rotate bands, so you have to keep finding new venues and clients all the time. Venue budgets often get cut and the first thing to go is the entertainment budget, so now instead of providing a 6-piece band, I have to provide a smaller band to meet their budget.

It is unfortunate that the arts are the first cut to the budget and that people don’t realize how important they are to the quality of life for all of us. Compensation for musicians is always a challenge. While musicians spend as much time on their craft as do other highly skilled professionals, we are sometimes asked to play for a nominal fee or a free meal instead of being compensated appropriately.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
The Crystal Swing Band is celebrating 33 years together and the Vibe Tribe is celebrating 29 years. Both bands have some original members so each band’s sound and cohesiveness is attributed to playing together for so many years, as well as hiring great musicians along the way. The 6-piece Crystal Swing Band’s original tenor player wrote all our arrangements for trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums. The arrangements make us sound like a much bigger band. We just finished the 13-piece Crystal Swing Band’s first CD last year and will be having our CD release party at the Avalon Ballroom in Boulder in November 20th. This was recorded live at the Avalon, so will be a special celebration. With 10 horns, the sound of the band is awesome.

Both bands play for all types of events so being the bandleader and drummer for those keeps me busy. But I also have time to freelance as a percussionist and have been fortunate to play with many other bands in the area including other jazz and swing bands, as well as large ensembles like the Denver Concert Band, Colorado Wind Ensemble, and Boulder Concert Band. I love drumming and music so I am happy when I am playing in any situation or listening to other bands.

I have always had a day job to support my music. Currently, I am the Events Manager of Naropa University and in the past worked at Chautauqua Auditorium in various capacities and as the Director of Macky Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
My parents were incredibly supportive of me becoming a drummer. When I was in college, I found out they both wanted to be drummers when they were kids, but it didn’t work out, so I think they subconsciously wanted me to be a drummer!

My maternal grandmother played classical piano and graduated from the Eastman School of Music, so there was a musical influence there as well. My husband, Patrick, is a born-again drummer, thanks to me (his words) and when we got married, both my bands played at the wedding reception. We had two drum kits set up and we played side by side on Sing, Sing, Sing with the Crystal Swing Big Band. It was the best wedding reception EVER!

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Image Credits:

Tim Ellis, Erik Highland, and Rob Bartee

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