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updated: 3/20/2012 12:12 PM

Suburban bottle band very popular

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  • St. Luke's Bottle Band typically shows up in fun costumes.

    St. Luke's Bottle Band typically shows up in fun costumes.
    Courtesy St. Luke's Bottle Band

  • Video: Suburban Bottle Band


The St. Luke's Bottle Band has played on national television as well as throughout the suburbs, but did you know it's been around since 1979 -- longer than some of its members have been alive?

The band is affiliated with St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge and performs a new show there every other year. On the off years it plays benefits, like the recent fundraisers for the Palatine High School choral program and the Des Plaines District 62 Foundation.

"A lot of our members enjoy the opportunity to do something really goofy," said Paul Phillips, who founded the band 33 years ago. "One of them is a banker and a few are accountants, so in normal life they don't have the chance to be outrageous. We enjoy making people laugh."

For the 2007 New Year's Eve performance on "Late Show with David Letterman," the band wore tuxedos to play "Auld Lang Syne" and the 1812 Overture, but usually you'll see them in "extreme costumes with too much jewelry and color."

Phillips arranges the songs, and the musicians -- from teens to octogenarians -- only have to know how to read numbers. Still, many of them are professional musicians or at least talented amateurs who are in musical groups at the church.

It's impressive the sounds they can achieve blowing, hitting and pulling fingers out of the bottles. Think "Rhapsody in Blue." They actually sounded great accompanying Steve Sivak, the high school's choral director, on that Gershwin classic, says Phillips.

Most of the members live in Des Plaines or Park Ridge, he said.

"I find it hard to believe we could do it for 33 years," said Phillips. "I guess we'll do it as long as we can keep coming up with ideas. Our group is a really phenomenal combination of people. I guess we'll do it as long as health holds out and it's fun."

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