The Story of Rock E Bassoon
How does a bassoon rock band even exist? Whose idea was that? How does it work?
Rock E Bassoon was born in 2016 when Matt Gutwein was joking with the organizers of Tonic Ball - one of Indy's largest fundraising events and the hippest night of live music in town. Having played bassoon in high school, Matt joked, "You know what Tonic Ball needs? A bassoon band." And they dared him to make it happen. So he did.
Matt booked local bassoonists Diana Ortega, Mark Ortwein, and Doug Spaniol to join him in a set of Beatles music. On November 18, 2016, they took the stage of the Fountain Square Theater and broke out into a bassoon quartet version of 'Got To Get You Into My Life,' and the crowd couldn't believe it. Then they were joined by three vocalists for a rendition of Eleanor Rigby, and the crowd was stunned. Then came a drummer and electric guitar player joining in for an epic rendition of 'Let It Be'. As the last chorus looped, New Orleans style brass band Pork n' Beans, marched slowly from the back of the hall, through the crowd and up on stage, playing along the whole time. The crowd cheered, waved their phones, and sang along. And some of them even cried. It was one of those magical goosebump moments that only live music can make happen - uniting a group of strangers in song. And it was at that moment we knew Rock E Bassoon was something special.
Since then, Rock E Bassoon has evolved into a tight, cohesive ensemble of top-notch professional musicians performing great music from the 1930's through the present. We've added bassoonists Mike Muszynski, Kelly Swensson, and Kara Stolle as well as drummer Craig Hetrick - the man who puts the Rock in Rock E Bassoon! (Sadly, founding member Diana Ortega - who kept REB running in its early years - has moved away from Indianapolis.) The bassoons are now all amplified and tricked out with distortion and other effect pedals, just like an electric guitar. The song list has expanded, and the arrangements have become more progressive and varied. But the magical effect on the crowd remains.
REB has been featured on WFYI (NPR), in the Indianapolis Star, NBC’s WTHR-TV 13, and on The Bob and Tom Show. They have been a major draw at fundraising events in Indy including Tonic Ball (Second Helpings), Spotlight (Health Foundation of Indianapolis), and their own Red, White, & Bassoon (ACLU of Indiana). They have performed for the Indianapolis Colts, Newfields, and major festivals in Indy, and built a loyal following on
their YouTube channel.
Matthew Gutwein- Bassoonist/Lawyer
Craig Hetrick - Assistant Principal Timpani/Percussion, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Mike Muszynski - Second Bassoon, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Mark Ortwein - Assistant Principal and Contrabassoon, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Douglas Spaniol - Professor of Bassoon, Butler University
Kara Stolle - Principal Bassoon, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Kelly Swensson - Professional freelance bassoonist