Brass Boys takes the stage

A local band started by Los Al students


Tyler Small

The Brass Boys: Howe, Barcelo, Ethan VanAndler, Bensavage, and Andrew VanAndler (left to right).

Bella Kim, Staff Writer

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Five Los Alamitos High School musicians started their own cover band, playing songs by the band Lucky Chops. Ethan VanAndler, Asher VanAndler, Andrew Bensavage, Syd Howe, and Daniel Barcelo got together to jam every week, and Brass Boys was born. 

“We were doing a gig and we couldn’t think of a name, and I said, ‘If we can’t think of a name by the time we need to tell them, tell them Brass Boys,’” sophomore Ethan VanAndler said.

“We just stuck with it,” said Barcelo, who plays the tenor saxophone. Ethan VanAndler plays the trombone; his brother Asher, senior, plays the saxophone; Bensavage, junior, plays the trumpet; and Howe, sophomore, plays the drums. 

“I’ve wanted to do this since my freshman year, but I brought it into action this year,” said Ethan VanAndler, who started the band around October 2022. He and his members are all in Los Al Jazz Band. They rehearse for Brass Boys at Ethan and Asher VanAndler’s house. Their first official gig was last December at Dipiazza’s, a bar in Long Beach. They secured a slot at the live concert because Barcelo’s cousin owns the bar.

“This guy’s got connections,” another band member joked. Brass Boys also played in Interact Club’s talent show on March 30, where they won third place. They performed “Danza,” an upbeat, jazzy song by Lucky Chops. 

“We thoroughly enjoy their music: the energy, the chord structure, the difficulty,” Ethan VanAndler said. Lucky Chops is a brass funk band from New York City that makes original songs and instrumental covers.

Brass Boys’ next planned gig is Saturday, June 11 at the Art, Appetizer, and Wine Tasting at St. Isidore Historical Plaza, where Barcelo’s aunt works. They will play between wine tastings and stories from the three featured artists. 

“At Dipiazza’s we didn’t get paid, but there was a tip jar. I think it’s going to be the same case at St. Isidore,” Barcelo, sophomore, said. 

In the future, Brass Boys plans to produce original music. They mentioned that some of their members are composers. 

“We’d like to take what we have with the music we play already and either keep that going or amplify it,” Ethan VanAndler said. Regarding continuing Brass Boys when they graduate, they said that will depend on how they all stay connected. 

“Personally, I want to have at least one gig every month,” Ethan VanAndler said about moving forward with Brass Boys. 

“Money and experience,” Howe added.

“We can try and make that happen; go on tour in our 30s,” Barcelo joked. “Asher’s graduating this year, and then next year we’ll see what happens.” Since they’re all in Jazz Band together, Brass Boys said it would be hard to add new members because they already know each other so well. 

For any Los Al students wanting to start their own music group outside of school, Brass Boys advised them to not be hesitant; take the leap, engage with the community, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

For more information on Brass Boys and their gigs, visit their Instagram @brassboysofficial. Click here for a short clip of their performance at the Interact Talent Show. (Video by Sydney Forsyte)