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From recorder to “Reset Button”: Klopotoski talks music and method

Aurelia Harrison
“Reset Button” plays live at Zinefest.

Long before local musician Jamie Klopotoski took up the mantle of GHS music substitute, her music career had already been flourishing. While Mr. Lundquist is away Thursdays and Fridays on medical leave, Klopotoski is directing the band and chorus, alongside serving as the GPS elementary band director. But apart from her busy schedule with Gloucester schools, Klopotoski has a side project: “Reset Button”.

“Six years ago, I started listening to a brass band based in New York called Lucky Chops,” Klopotoski said. “I really liked their music, and I wanted to start a band like them. I asked a bunch of my friends, and they said yes, so we started a group called the Brewin’ Brass Band. At the time, i was also opening a brewery, so we went along with that theme. Then the pandemic hit, the brewery closed, and the band disbanded. Midway through the pandemic, when restrictions let up a little, a few of the former members got together to play music in my driveway, outside and socially distanced. We’ve always done video game covers, but it was also a joke that we pressed the ‘reset button’ on our old band.”

“Reset Button” is a 6-member brass band with a unique theme: the majority of their music comes from videogame soundtracks. Klopotoski plays the baritone saxophone, with her husband Tim on tuba, Ben Tuck on the trombone, Nicholas “Cheeks” Capello on alto saxophone, Ian Brown on tenor saxophone, and Ryan French on the drums.

The group plays all around the North Shore, usually at outdoor events and festivals. Some of their favorite venues include the Gloucester Block Party, the Middle Street Walk, and local breweries. They are also regular performers at the Gulu Gulu cafe and Bit Bar, both in Salem.

“Recently, we played at a pinball convention, called Pintastic,” Klopotoski said. “Our drummer is a pinball fanatic and goes every year, and one of our close friends always brings machines to the convention, so we had some connections. I picked our setlist to match up with the pinball games, so we played Mario for the Mario pinball machine, a version of Weird Al’s polka for the Weird Al machine, etc.”

Klopotoski and the group have played in a myriad of different places, but for her, one reigns superior. “My favorite was when we did an event at MAGMA where we played the entire Undertale soundtrack while our friend played the videogame on the big screen. We packed the house. Everyone was supportive, we put a lot of work into it, but it was very much worth it.”

“Reset Button” is a unique group for a lot of reasons, not only for their eccentric themes and venue choices, but also because of how they play: the group arranges all of their own music. Klopotoski and her husband do a lot of the heavy lifting arrangement-wise, but their styles are very different.

“People like my husband will sit down and listen to a song over and over while he types in the notes by ear and figures out who plays what part,” said Klopotoski. “I tend to look for arrangements that have already been done, and then completely reworking whatever I find. We are a weird group to arrange for with 3 saxophones, 1 tuba, and, 1 trombone, so I will sit down and figure out who gets melody, harmony, bassline, and everything else. One of my favorite arrangements of mine is actually not a video game song. I had been doing some exercise to songs by Avicii, and it got me thinking about doing a medley. So, I arranged it completely on my own. I love the way it turned out.”

Klopotoski has had a long and illustrious career in the local music scene, and she had some advice for people looking to get into music arrangement. “The more you arrange, the better you get. I listen to my old arrangements from the Brewin’ Brass Band, and don’t like them at all anymore, because I’ve really grown as an arranger. Once you actually hear the instruments play the arrangement, you want to immediately make changes and make it better. It gets easier and easier after you do that.”

Now that they’ve been an ensemble for a while, “Reset Button” has settled into roles, musically speaking. In general, the alto saxophone and trombone get the melody, the tenor saxophone and tuba are in harmony, the tuba gets the bass line, and the baritone saxophone picks up whatever lines are left.

“We have something we call ‘The Machine’, when we need music to happen for many, many, measures in a row. In Sonic the Hedgehog music, for instance, they’re using a synthesizer, but we all need to breathe, so instead of giving the alto 30 measures of nonstop notes, we’ll spilt it up between the alto and the tenor so the alto takes a measure or two, and then the tenor takes a measure or two, and they go back and forth. It actually sounds really cool, but it’s just a way for us to make up for the fact that we are not an electronic instrument that doesn’t need to breathe.”

One of the advantages of “Reset Button” is that in addition to being friends, the group has a deep sense of camaraderie and respect for each other.

“I really like when a song comes together and we play it in sync, and especially when we end it all together on that very last note and it rings throughout the air,” Klopotoski said. “It feels so good to have done that, all six of us. I also really like when we are able to be honest with each other about the way something sounds or the way something had been arranged, and we can work together to make it even better. We are very comfortable with each other in accepting criticism.”

Despite her current endeavors, Jamie Klopotoski’s path to local musicianship has not been as linear as one might think. “In the fourth grade, I learned how to play the recorder, and loved it. So, when it was time to sign up for band, I asked my teacher what I should play, and they suggested clarinet. I learned clarinet in 5th grade, joined the middle school band, and was promptly converted to bass clarinet and then the bassoon. I played bassoon all through high school. I also learned tenor saxophone in high school, because we had a marching band, and I cannot march with a bassoon.”

“Then in college, I went to Northwestern and joined the Northwestern University Marching Band, also know as NUMB. It’s a big 10 marching band school, so we traveled to football games all over. After college, I moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Divinity School, and sadly gave up music, because I didn’t know there were opportunities for non-professional musicians to play as an adult. But then my husband introduced me to the whole new world of non-professional musicians. In fact, on our 3rd date, I followed him around while he marched with Boston Fireman’s Marching Band. The band director asked me to join, and let me borrow one of his saxophones. That’s how I got back into it, marching around with a borrowed sax. I started playing with my husbands ska band, joined some community bands, met a bunch of local musicians, and then was asked to help teach elementary school band back in 2018. Once the band director left, I took over, and I’ve been the elementary school band director ever since.”

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About the Contributor
Aurelia Harrison
Aurelia Harrison, Editor in Chief
Aurelia Harrison (they/them) is a senior and Editor in Chief for the Gillnetter. Their interests include writing, thinking about writing, music, and talking. They work at The Bookstore of Gloucester on the weekends, are a member of drama club, and love nature walks and famed Colombian pop star Shakira. They have been published in lit journals such as IAMB Magazine and The Empty Inkwell, and have received awards for their poetry and journalism. If you happen to engage Aurelia in conversation about philosophy, The Hunger Games, or Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album, bring a sleeping mask. You have been warned. Email them at [email protected]  

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    Deb TelepMay 7, 2024 at 4:58 pm

    A well-written article about a local treasure! Jamie is a powerhouse, she knows how to make things happen, and Gloucester is lucky to have her!