In August 2009 five brass-playing friends were anchored in a remote cove west of Bella Bella on the central coast of British Columbia. A day of fishing was over and it was time to relax. Eagles were perched atop massive cedar trees waiting for any scraps of fish that they could scoop from the water. Over a fresh salmon and crab dinner, the discussion was about whale sightings, who caught the biggest fish, and the ones that got away.
The sun was setting but there was enough of a glow for a brass quintet rehearsal. We were glad we arranged to bring all our instruments with us on the trip.
When everyone was assembled on deck the music began with the full sound of a brass quintet. The beautiful harmonies were tossed around the cove by an echo that equaled those heard in the cathedrals of Europe. That setting and experience was the true birthplace of ‘Fish on Five’.
The fishing area proved to have more than just eagles and whales for an audience. The Shearwater Marina and Restaurant adopted the quintet and that became their home base for concerts and moorage. From there they played for the elders in Bella Bella and at the community centre in Klemtu. The granddaughter of one of the elders gave them the Heiltsuk First Nation’s Name, ‘Ski Ouk Meeya’ which means ‘Five Fishes’. Port Hardy, Sointula, and Port McNeil were also docking places to play concerts and meet the locals. Wherever they played, fishing tips abounded. The audiences, whether big or small, truly loved their unique sound and versatility. Most had never heard a live brass quintet performance.
All five musicians reside in the Okanagan and are regular players in the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. ‘Fish on Five’ plays at many venues throughout the year, including: weddings, outdoor events in parks, and private events. They have played at the historic Kamloops Court House for the Chamber Musicians of Kamloops Society, on the lawn overlooking Kalamalka Lake at Mackie House in Vernon and were the guest soloists at the 2015 OSO Christmas production
A commonly asked question is the meaning behind the name, “Fish on Five”. It’s quite simple. The five musicians shout “Fish On!” whenever they hook a fish. So calling themselves “Fish on Five” was a natural.
“Fish on Five” Players and Crew:
Jim Howie – trumpet / bosun
Dennis Colpitts – trumpet / first mate
Edmund House – french horn / deckhand
Wade Dorsey – trombone / cook
Reynold Epp – tuba / captain