For one moment last night, he didn't have to worry about budgets, bond ratings or belligerent taxpayers.
All Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden had to worry about was hitting high C on a trumpet he had not played since his days with the Sparrows Point High School Band more than 25 years ago.
Mr. Hayden took the stage at the Essex VFW hall on Riverdale Avenue for almost 20 minutes to play at a benefit for the families of U.S. soldiers in the Persian Gulf region.
The executive, 46, appeared a bit nervous but seemed to warm up during his three-number set with a band also made up of state Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County, on alto sax, county custodial supervisor John Cichetti on keyboard and Hayden aides Nick Spinnato on drums and Jim McKinney -- a former professional musician -- on tenor sax.
The band rehearsed twice in Mr. McKinney's basement this week. Mr. Hayden had to search his mother's house for the trumpet -- which he hadn't played since high school, according to his wife, Nancy.
"It's OK for a band that was thrown together at the last minute," said Wayne Jones, who plays electric guitar for a band that performs at weddings and festivals. "But they'd better all keep their day jobs."
Mr. Hayden said he was a bit nervous about performing but felt it was for a good cause and thus worth the risk of embarrassment. The event raised roughly $3,000 for Essex Day Inc., a volunteer organization that runs the annual Essex Day Festival and planned to use the money to help the families of local gulf war troops.
The county executive stayed in the background for most of the set and at times was hardly audible in the band's renditions of "Love Me Tender" and "Do the Hucklebuck." But neither his playing nor his affiliation as a Republican bothered anyone attending the $12-a-plate bull roast held in blue-collar Democrat country.