Coastal Rivers Pet Hospital: An Odd Green Room

Coastal Rivers Pet Hospital, bari sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, wooden cat, folk art

Well, yesterday’s show was a great success. The Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble performed for hundreds of people as they came for Coastal Rivers Pet Hospital’s grand opening. There were so many people in the foyer waiting for their guided tour, that at some points we were getting crowded.

A number of people came up to me during the show and told me how much they enjoyed our music. Some were sitting in the chairs by us and listening for quite a while either before, or after their tour of the backend of the clinic.

Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble, Helen Kahlke, Geoff Brown, Coast Rivers Pet Hospital, bari sax player, keyboard player

There were two unusual things that I encountered yesterday. The first was that there were three raptors—a golden eagle, a falcon, and a great horned owl—as well as an opossum who, along with their handlers, were entertained by the four hours of live jazz standards. I’ve never had that kind of audience before. They didn’t seem to mind though. As a matter of fact, the opossum slept through the entire event. I joked with Elizabeth Melnick from Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre, that I should come to play her babies to sleep.

The second unusual thing that I encountered yesterday was my green room. Never before have I had an examination room for changing and gear storage.

Mark VI bari sax, King Zephyr tenor sax, gig gear, green room, vet hospital exam room

I took this time to say good-bye to my least favourite horn: my Mark VI soprano. It has been with me for 30 years, but it really has the sound that only a mother could love. Not being maternal in the slightest, bye-bye baby, bye-bye…

(BTW, they cleaned the room as soon as I was out of there.)

Selmer Mark VI soprano sax, vet exam table, Notice how happy I look after it was euthanized?

Helen Kahlke, Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble, green room, vet exam room, bari sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, vet exam table, gear

Nah, I’m just fooling around. My Mark VI came home with me. (After 30 years, I am somewhat attached to it after all.) Although I am a large-horn player, I will be using my soprano in a musical next month.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Can A Sax Talk To The Animals?

A few weeks ago I was asked to play for a friend’s open house. I hummed and hawed about it, since I wasn’t really planning on doing any more jazz gigs with my seemingly-permanently-hiatused jazz band. But when Elizabeth asked, I was planning on phoning a piano player anyway, so I thought, why not?

Fast forward 6 weeks, and the show is almost upon us. In just 24 hours from now I’ll be packing all my gear for the Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble’s performance at Coastal Rivers Pet Hospital. We’ll be performing there between 1-5 tomorrow, during the clinic’s grand opening.

This performance will be a different one for me, since it again will be a duet, but this time with a piano player who I know through The Moonliters (the Big Band I play in). However, when Geoff Brown and I play 3+ hours of standards, we’ll be doing it without the other 15 players who normally share the stage with us.

Geoff and I will be standing in place of the clinic’s cockatiel—who BTW seemed to love my sound check yesterday—entertaining what will likely be hundreds of people visiting Drs. Borgmann and Taylor’s clinic for the first time. (Coastal Rivers is an amalgamation of two very established clinics—Whatcom Road Veterinary Clinic and Abbotsford Vet Clinic—into one almost super clinic, with state-of-the-art equipment and services.)

Although strictly background music, since I’m doing this for a friend, my standards are higher for myself than if I was doing this for anyone else who called me. Until I went to the clinic yesterday afternoon for a mini sound check to see how the sound would bounce around—or wouldn’t—Elizabeth had never even heard me play. For all she knew I was totally BS’ing her. Lucky for her, I know which end of the saxophone to blow into. ;)

Although they clinic will be suspending regular services from noon onwards tomorrow, the clinic bird, cats, a visiting raptor, owl, as well as an opossum, will be in the back. Now the cockatiel liked my playing yesterday, and seemed intrigued by the sounds emanating from my horn, but how the rest of the animals will appreciate the hours of live jazz, that’s anybody’s guess. Can a sax talk to the animals?

meerkatsMaybe some of them would prefer classical, or maybe even pop. If so, they’re out outta luck, since Geoff and I will be doing many of the Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble’s repertoire of standards spanning the 1930s to the 70s. Or perhaps the animals would prefer a band made up of their own kind, if so, they’re really outta luck, since I couldn’t find a bunch of these guys in the Metro Vancouver area if I tried! ;)

If you’re in the area, and would like to see the new Coastal Rivers facility, please drop in. The staff will be happy to show you around. They will be giving guided tours of the back-end of the clinic, including the new hydrotherapy pool, the specialized cat and exotics exam rooms, dog exam rooms, the lab, X-ray area, dental procedure area, as well as the two ORs. There will be a draw for a couple of door prizes as well.

The open house is tomorrow, February 6, from 1-5 pm. The clinic is located at 1993 Riverside Road, in Abbotsford. If you do stop in, please come and say “hi”. You can’t miss Geoff and I. We’ll be in the foyer—normally the dog waiting area.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

How To Avoid A Costly Saxophone Selling Mistake

One saxophone selling case where lots of mistakes were made

Mark-VI-Quartet, Selmer Mark VI, alto sax, bari sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, saxophone selling

A quartet of Selmer Mark VI saxophones

I read something this morning on the SOTW Forum that made me rather ill: Someone had taken their late father’s Mark VI tenor and two Selmer mouthpieces into a music store to sell. The person was not a saxophone player (although her father had been a professional player), and didn’t know anything about horns before to going to the shop that was close to 100 miles away from their home.

The woman had however, checked the music store’s website and had seen Mark VI tenors listed for north of £5,000. This also happened to be the same shop her father used to go to. (Prior to this particular owner buying it.) It was not a pawn shop, but rather a well-reputed music store that has been in the north of England for nearly half a century.

When she showed up with the horn, she spoke with owner and explained that she was looking to sell the Selmer. The owner explained that the sax needed an overhaul, and asked what she wanted for it. The seller asked for an offer, but that didn’t happen. The seller then stated that she would like £3500, since he’d seen them on the store’s website for upwards of £5000.

The music store owner stated that those saxes were overhauled, and that people haggle down the prices, so the website price was rather meaningless. The store owner then offered her £1000 for the Selmer Mark VI tenor.

The seller tried to get the price up to £1500, but to no avail. In the end she was there for a number of hours, had driven close to 100 miles, and felt that the owner wouldn’t be unfair to her.

After getting home the seller started looking on the Net and discovered how valuable Mark VI tenors really were. Then she suddenly felt duped, and posted to SOTW and asked if she had perhaps made a mistake.

One mistake? Sadly, she a made a whole bunch of them.

Now we don’t know the particulars of this case from both sides. We don’t know the condition of the Selmer Mark VI tenor, nor do we know how much work needed to go into it. That said, there are some take-aways from this story. Hopefully they can avoid this kind of situation happening to you.

Some simple steps to avoid a costly saxophone selling mistake

  1. If you are not a saxophone player, do your homework on the make and model of the saxophone in your possession before you go to sell it. Google is your best for this. Really, it is.
  2. If the instrument belonged to a professional musician, reach out that player’s former colleagues. They may know someone reputable who may sell it for you, or want to buy it. (Continue reading anyway.)
  3. If you know where the instrument was serviced, and if that tech is reputable, they might be able to help you. (Continue reading the steps below.)
  4. Before going to a brick and mortar store, reach out to an online community such as the Woodwind Forum, Sax On The Web, or even email me if you want. Explain your situation, and ask for the recommendation of a reputable tech/store in your area. But do this BEFORE you go somewhere with the saxophone.
  5. Phone the store ahead of time and make an appointment, or at least make sure that the person whom you’re looking for—the person who is knowledgeable about saxophones—is in that day and time.
  6. Take someone with you. (Preferably a sax player, or another musician.) This is especially important if you a woman. Women are more likely to be taken advantage of by male sales and service people than men are. Sorry guys, I’m not dissing you. That’s just a fact. It happens in all fields that women traditionally know very little in such as automotive repairs or lawnmower sales. If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about.
  7. Have an idea of how much money you want, realistically, for your saxophone. You might want $10,000 for that C melody that belonged to your grandfather, but chances you are not likely to get it. So be realistic in your ask, but don’t undersell it either. Unless your C melody was run over by a truck, it is likely worth more than $75.
  8. Don’t include extra mouthpieces unless you want to. The only time you might want to include mouthpieces is if the brand of mouthpiece is the same as the saxophone, but be careful if the brand is Selmer. A good rule is to be compensated for the Selmer mouthpieces separately. If the store doesn’t want to do that, then keep the mouthpieces, and deal with them separately.
  9. Understand that brick and mortar stores have to pay staff, bills, rent, etc. They are not going to give you top dollar for your saxophone, since they need to make a profit. If you want/need top dollar for the instrument, you will likely have to sell it privately either locally, on or online.

Just as an aside, I recently received an email from a woman in New York State who was exactly in this situation. I reached out to the online sax playing community, and found a good, reliable tech within driving distance to appraise her vintage horn. Although not a Selmer, it wasn’t a POS either. It had the potential to be a nice horn for someone, but it needed full restoration.

Wrapping all of this up then…

I hope that this article on how to avoid a costly saxophone selling mistake is helpful to someone. Because I frequently get emails from people about their deceased loved one’s saxophones, and now after having read the thread on SOTW, I know this information is long overdue.

If you stumble across this and would like my assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will do my best to connect you with someone reliable, reputable, and honest.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!