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Local musicians find solidarity performing at George Floyd Square every week

Brass band plays weekly at George Floyd Square
Brass band plays weekly at George Floyd Square 01:51

MINNEAPOLIS — On any given Monday, there's a community concert at the corner of 38th and Chicago.

A group of local musicians playing saxophone, trumpet, drums and more gather at the site of what once was a Speedway gas station across from where George Floyd was killed more than two years ago. Their mission is to support the community and provide healing to a place marked by painful memories. 

"We saw early on where there were so many people who saw George Floyd's murder and said, "what do I do? I don't know what to do,'" said Butchy Austin, a local musician and founding member of Brass Solidarity. "But a lot of us as musicians felt we could use our art and use our gifts as an offering to this space and to the movement."

Austin would often play his trumpet solo at George Floyd Square following Floyd's death. He found others performing with the same purpose the day the verdict came in Derek Chauvin's murder trial, including Kristen Froebel, a saxophone player. 

She approached Austin and asked if he would join her and other local musicians to play together. 

Soon after, Brass Solidarity was born. 

"I like to say we were cofounded by many people wanting to take part in the movement for justice after the death of George Floyd," Froebel said. "We want to be a part of the call for justice and we want to also contribute good feelings to the community."

Now the group plays every Monday at 4:30 p.m. and they haven't missed a performance there in 81 weeks, Froebel said. Songs on the setlist include "This Little Light of Mine" and "When The Saints Go Marching In." 

The group started with just a few people and has grown to 25 musicians—some previously played music together and others never knew each other before Brass Solidarity. A few of them recently lent their talents to the Minnesota nurses' strike, playing their songs on the picket lines. 

They welcome new members.

"Brass is descriptive of the instruments we play being a brass band and the solidarity piece is truly just what we aim to do," Austin said of the band's name. 

Samuel Brooks, who plays the saxophone, knew only one member when he decided to join. But strangers quickly turned into friends. 

"It's like an extended family," Brooks said. "Anybody can come and play. If you're good, if you're pretty good, if you're beginner – it doesn't really matter. And that's what I love about it."

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