The Natural State Brass Band (NSBB), founded in 2003, is a brass and percussion ensemble rooted in the British brass band tradition. NSBB is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and draws its membership from throughout the scenic state – thus adopting the official state motto, “The Natural State,” as the band’s name.
The Natural State Brass Band performs a wide range of repertoire, including popular, jazz, and patriotic music in addition to selections from the British brass band genre. The band’s mission is "to provide an enjoyable musical experience for our audience,to promote the brass band idiom, and to enhance the musicianship of our members through the performance of quality literature."
The Natural State Brass Band is a member of the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) and competed in its first NABBA competition in 2004. Since that time the band has competed many times, winning the challenge (second) section in 2009 and 2012.
The band completed a concert tour of northern England in the summer of 2010 with guest soloist Douglas Yeo. NSBB played an exhibition performance at the English Nationals and joint concerts with Freckleton, Vernon Building Society Poynton, Thoresby and Wingates bands. NSBB also played the last rehearsal before the world famous Black Dyke band room was converted to a museum, closing with “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
For the first thirteen years of it's musical journey the Natural State Brass Band performed under the direction of founding member Rusty Morris. When Rusty stepped away from the band after NABBA 2016 another founding member, Rico Belotti, was appointed Associate Music
Director of the ensemble and served as the band's conductor until the appointment of Dr. Gretchen Renshaw James, who took the baton in January 2017, leading the band back to the awards podium with a third place finish in the second section at the 2017 NABBA Championships.
When Dr. Renshaw - James stepped down in 2020 the bands was again lead by Belotti and Dr. Tim
Gunter, who was chosen as the new MD. However, Dr. Gunter was not able to continue and Nevada
Mills was chosen in January to take the band to NABBA, placing third in their section. He was then
awarded the MD position. The band then performed at the 2022 International Trombone festival,
backing renowned bass trombonist Doug Yeo and festival host Jay Cook.
The band has performed in all regions of the state of Arkansas including the Four States Bandmasters Convention, The Arkansas Governor's School, and most recently at the 2017 Arkansas Bandmasters Association Convention. The band has been an opening act for Earth, Wind and Fire and played for President Bill Clinton on several occasions.
NSBB would like to express its appreciation to Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock for providing rehearsal space since the band’s inception.
NSBB is a sustaining member of the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association and is included on the Arkansas Arts Council Arts on Tour Artist Roster.