PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — On a cold wintry day in Port Townsend, the sound of a flugelhorn competes with the wind on busy Water Street. Using the Palace Hotel as a windbreak, the musician known as “Flugelhorn Phil” Ehereman is playing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with frozen lips.
“Well cold is relative,” Ehereman said. "But you're right, it's a little nippy.”
But never too nippy for this Alaska transplant.
“In Alaska, you don't change your plans,” he said. “You change your clothes.”
In Port Townsend, though, even those who are bundled up in down jackets are more likely to walk past this musician on a mission.
“I'm out here trying to keep the music alive here through the winter and that can be a tough thing to do for a lot of people,” he said. “But I brought down some of my Alaska blood as well as layers that go with it.”
Back when things were normal Flugelhorn Phil played wineries, taprooms, wedding receptions, and parties.
“But this last year, because of COVID, I decided that I was going to come down here and keep the music alive because all my gigs got canceled.”
The music is alive, but like the song says, “Baby, It's Cold Outside.”
You might expect Ehereman to get frustrated.
“Just like authors want people to read their books, musicians want people to listen to their music,” he said.
It may not look like anyone is listening, but there usually is. You see, it’s not just the music keeping Ehereman company. His mom is listening too.
“She’s 90-years-old,” he said. “She lives in Indiana. But with FaceTime, I take her on the road with me wherever I go and she's able to see me play and it's a wonderful thing.”
“So this is one my favorites and yours,” he tells his mom. “'Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire.' Remember that one?”
“You bet,” she laughed. “Absolutely!”
In a park, dwarfed by a decorated Christmas Tree, Ehereman plays “The Christmas Song” to his mom. A song has the ability to transport us all back in time, reuniting us with the past and loved ones who have passed. Ehereman thinks about his dad.
“I was fortunate to have a father who was a band director who inspired the gift of music in me,” he said.
And when he finishes the song his mother cheers.
“You do an excellent job of performing,” she said. “And I love the music.”
“Thanks, Mom!” Ehereman says and blows her an air kiss, before packing up his horn and heading to a warm home.
Flugelhorn Phil recently recorded 14 holiday songs in a studio. He's making them all available as free downloads from his website, FlugelhornPhil.com.