Did you hear someone performing "Taps" yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock? Who was that?

Chances are, no matter where you were in Grand Junction, Clifton, Palisade, Fruita, or several other Western Colorado locations at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day (May 30), you probably heard a trumpeter playing Taps. How can that be? A trumpet player can't be in all parts of the valley at the same time.

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What Is 'Taps' and Why Did You Hear It Yesterday?

What exactly is Taps? According to Wikipedia:

"Taps" is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces. The official military version is played by a single bugle or trumpet, although other versions of the tune may be played in other contexts.


A Coordinated Effort Around Western Colorado

As part of a coordinated effort, for the last two years, trumpet players across Grand Junction and other Western Colorado communities stepped outside to perform "Taps" at precisely 3 p.m. yesterday.

Most trumpet players can count on performing Taps several times on Memorial Day. Most are at the cemetery bright and early, and again at dusk to perform the ritual.

Whereas yesterday is concerned, area trumpet players agreed on 3 p.m. as the time to step out of their homes and perform the piece.

Scott Bett Performing Taps on Memorial Day
Scott Betts

The guiding force behind yesterday's performances was Clifton resident and Big Band leader Clark Gault. Back in 2020, during a rehearsal with Gault's band the Swing City Express, he asked all trumpet players to participate in the 3 o'clock performance on Memorial Day. In addition to the members of that band, other area trumpet players, including faculty members at Colorado Mesa University, joined in. Trumpet players were asked to step out the front doors of their homes and perform the piece.

Clark Gault Performing Taps on Memorial Day
Clark Gault

Via his Facebook page, Clark Gault posted:

A few minutes ago at 3pm, local time, I played 'Taps' on my flugalbone (trumpet 1/2 brother) along with the trumpets from my band, all the local players I could think of, and trumpets from all over the United States in every state, to honor those who sacrificed so the rest of us could enjoy the life we have. - Clark Gault

Western Colorado Locations Where You May Have Heard 'Taps'

Some of the areas around the valley where you probably heard trumpets would include:

  • Main Street in Clifton
  • Main Street in Grand Junction
  • Around CMU
  • 27 Road and Unaweep
  • 31 Road and Patterson
  • Paber Avenue in Fruita

The locations listed above represent only a portion of the places where you might have heard Taps. While this effort was localized, this same practice is observed all over the country.

Regardless of where they may have found themselves on Memorial Day, these trumpeters were prepared to play 'Taps' at 3 o'clock. Retired Grand Junction music teacher Scott Betts could be heard at Slash LG Ranch above Crawford, Colorado.

Western Colorado Musicians Who Participated

Some of the local musicians who've participated over the past two years include:

  • Scott Betts
  • Clark Gault
  • Ron Bradley
  • Charlie Sweet
  • Jonathan Hinkle

Thank you to all of the local musicians who shared their talents in order to perform this tribute. I hope everyone had a chance to hear them.

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