Brookfield native plays president's Halloween bash

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Brookfield native Doug Abram had a whirlwind weekend, hobnobbing with President Barack Obama and A-listers like actor Johnny Depp and filmmaker Tim Burton while performing with his band at the White House Halloween party on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Abram and his band mates from the Black Bear Combo, who blend Eastern European/Balkan traditional sounds with jazz, provided the soundtrack while First Lady Michelle Obama, dressed as a feline, and the president (dressed as himself) handed out treats to some 2,000 kids at the event, where Obama thanked military families.

Abram, a saxophonist, and his mates -Gerald Bailey, trumpet; Rob Pleshar, sousaphone; Ehsan Ghoreishi, accordion, daf; Dersu Burrows, bass drum; and Andrew Zelm, euphonium - donned skeleton costumes and played both outside in front of the orange-lit White House and then inside for the party. It was there that Abrams bumped into Depp and Burton, who liked the music so much that he was asked for a CD.

Depp meanwhile, promised the band that the next time he was in town, he'd look them up, Abram said.

Actually, Abram lives in Brooklyn right now, moving there at the beginning of October. He was there a week when he received a call from a friend who has connections with Chicago's Redmoon Theater group, which had been invited to perform at the Halloween event.

They were looking for a band, and Abram's friend had recommended Black Bear Combo. The band had played at a victory celebration at the Hideout in Chicago after Obama's election in November 2008.

"Within a couple of days we were talking with them," Abram said.

A 1993 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School, Abram grew up in the Hollywood section of Brookfield, where neighbors no doubt recall him as a budding drummer whose bands would rehearse in the family basement. His parents, David and Stella Abram still live in the family home on Woodside Avenue.

He has since switched to saxophone and also works as a graphic designer, doing silkscreens, posters, T-shirts and CD art for other bands.

-Bob Uphues

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