Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2018

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Sam Morris

Local DJ Ginger Bruner started playing the tuba in sixth grade and holds a bachelor’s degree in the instrument’s performance.

Name: Ginger Bruner, musician

Instruments: Tuba, bass, ukulele

Age: “Old enough to know better — 40ish”

Education: Bachelor’s degree in tuba performance, UNLV

Gigs and day jobs: Tuba player with Killian’s Angels, Meshuginah Klezmorim and the Gingersnaps, her polka band. Also can be seen performing in a dirndl — traditional Alpine dress — at the Hofbrauhaus on Paradise Road. When not performing, Bruner is a DJ at KUNV 91.5 FM, where she also produces “Playing Favorites” with host Nate Tannenbaum. She’s also a recording engineer for DeeDee Bridgewater’s NPR (Las Vegas) show “JazzSet.”

Hobbies and interests: Sleeping, reading, golf, photography

On being a musician: Born and raised in Las Vegas, Bruner began playing the trombone in fourth grade and in sixth grade stepped forward to play the tuba because there were no other tuba players in the county in her age group. “I could have a been a trombone player in the honor band,” she says. “But somebody’s got to play the damn thing ... You learn to be selfless.” She played trombone in jazz band in junior high and high school and the tuba in concert band. She continued with tuba through college. “I have a degree in tuba performance; how’s that for useful?”

Her tuba prowess took her to Japan with UNLV music groups, and she returned with an all-women professional Dixieland band. They played at the amusement park Mitsui Greenland. She specialized in ethnic music to diversify and get more work.

Her love of Dixieland got her interested in klezmer, which she describes as a “sort of Jewish Dixieland.”

Bruner had never played “oompah” until her dad volunteered her to perform with a band at his Elks Lodge.

On playing the tuba: A lot of what she learned on trombone translated to tuba, which led her to be able to perform a variety of music. Likes to take different styles, “smush” them together and have a good time with it; even played in the now-defunct punk band, Tippy Elvis. Started Tippy Elvis as a bass player and part-time tuba player. Her bass was stolen so she performed full time on tuba for the band.

On tuba in rock bands: “It’s the original heavy metal.”

“I use this instrument to play whatever I like. It might not necessarily be what the instrument was built for, but it works.”

Sticking around: “Probably. It depends if we have water, right? When you’re an entertainer, this is a good town.”

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