When a man loves a trumpet

Ron Sang

Photo By Nick Miller

If you have ever been walking down I Street between 10th and 11th on a fine evening after the sun has set, you may have heard the sounds of trumpet serenading your moonlight stroll. More than likely, that beautiful sound was from one of Ron Sang’s “girlfriends,” or instruments, which have been therapy to help him get over the loss of both his parents, who died in Hurricane Katrina. About a week ago, I rudely interrupted Sang’s healing and convinced him, with some difficulty, to allow me to ask him about his life and his beautiful instruments.

Does your trumpet have a special meaning to you?

Yes, it’s my girlfriend.

Your girlfriend?

I will not share my woman with another man. I don’t care how much she wants to be with him. If she wants to be with him, I say, “You have to go. I don’t want to see you no more.” (Laughs.)

The thing is, if you think he is that cute, and if you feel this sort of thing, then you better go, because I can’t have you no more. That’s not going to work. It’s like this thing here, this [cornet], it can get extremely jealous.

So how long have you had that cornet?

This horn right here? Actually, I have just had this horn for just two weeks.

And she’s already your girlfriend?

Oh yeah, oh yeah. We just naturally, I mean, because uh—

Was it love at first sight?

Yes, it was love absolutely at first sight. Because she’s beautiful. I mean, this might sound kind of weird, but I love her very much. She is interesting. She fits my every need. She treats me very nice. And I intend to give her, over the next two or three years, I really intend to give her good response, good response, because I owe it to her, because she has been very faithful to me.

What happened to your ex?

Oh, I have all my girlfriends at home.

Do they stay your girlfriends or are they your ex-girlfriends?

Oh, they will always be my girlfriends. Now, I know it may sound like I got a harem here. But they all are one. They all have a different sound.

Do your instruments get jealous when you play other girlfriends?

If I bring another trumpet here and try to, it will, uh—when I pick up her up she automatically let me know that “You haven’t played me in a long time.” Because I have to adjust my ear to her, ’cause she might have a brighter sound. …

This girl, this is my latest girlfriend. She’s short; I don’t like my girlfriends to be tall. So I don’t get along with my trumpet—the trumpet I got at home—very well. She gives me a bright sound. … My girlfriend can be my height, but not much taller, then it gets to be a problem. Shorter is better.

How often do you come out here?

Basically, I come here every night or every other night at 8:30. Sometimes I get here at 9; 9 o’clock would be the latest. …

Sometimes I come down here and stand out here for 10 minutes, and my girlfriend will get mad at me. And I just say, “Oh my goodness, I got to go home.” (Laughs.) And I have done that. Came down here, opened it up, played, and 10 minutes and I say, “Man, something ain’t right here.” And I look at her and I say, “Hey, I haven’t touched you in about two days. I haven’t even given you a hug. I mean, I haven’t even wrapped my fingers around you.”

So when I don’t do this, I get physical; this is real, this is very real talk, and it’ll hurt here [points to his lips]. And she’ll say, “You haven’t been kissing me lately,” and I when I put this [cornet] up here, and start playing, I have to get that back up again, I have to get that strength up again. It is the same instance with women.

Do you ever play trumpet anywhere else?

No, I haven’t played. … I go up to Berkeley every once in a while. I’ll leave on a Friday.

Anywhere else around Sacramento?


Even in your house?

No, not even in my house. My neighbors saw me on television and they didn’t know that I played music. You know, they sit inside their house all day, and that’s not my thing.