Phil Imming of Coronado created the Beer Mugs, which plays old-fashioned Bavarian music. Photo courtesy of the Coronado Public Library.

Bavarian and German culture is alive in Coronado with the traditional band, The Beer Mugs. 

Phil Imming, the creator of the group, found an interest in Bavarian music during his   time at Coronado High School, where he played in the school band.

They had German music books for a five-piece band, which is how he discovered this type of music. In a school talent show, he performed in a German band, and he said that he really enjoyed playing.  

Oktoberfest celebrations

During his time with the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, he sat next to a tuba player who was from Germany who said that he played in Oktoberfest at the German American Societies of SD Inc. in El Cajon. 

Imming then attended the Oktoberfest performance, but he said he was disappointed because it was not the traditional music he had expected. 

“Over time, Oktoberfest has stayed with the times,” he said. “It’s current music. It’s never old music.”

He said that in Munich, Germany, where the largest Oktoberfest is held, they have shifted from traditional songs to more modern and electronic music. 

Maintaining Bavarian culture

He felt like the traditional music was not being played anymore, so he put together a group with the goal of maintaining Bavarian culture. 

Thus, Imming started The Beer Mugs five years ago by reaching out to his connections from the Coronado Concert Band.

The current band members are Imming on the tuba, Stefanie Schimtz on clarinet, Josh Mills on clarinet, Jim Naiper on the trumpet and flugelhorn and David Murray on the euphonium.

Imming also contacted local breweries to set up shows.

However, this year, they are doing fewer performances in breweries.

Teaching about Oktoberfest

Instead, the group is focusing on teaching about Oktoberfest through their music, and the group performed at the Coronado Public Library on Sept. 17.

They also are scheduled to play at the Coronado Marines Oktoberfest at the Coronado VFW on Oct. 14.

At their shows, the band members wear blue checkered shirts, which represent the blue checkered shield on the Bavaria coat of arms. 

Old German folk songs

The majority of the songs they perform are old German folk songs from the 1500s and 1600s. 

We play two kinds of music: oom-pah and oom-pah-pah.”

-Phil Imming, leader of the Beer Mugs.

“If you know what a polka is and you know what a waltz is, that’s what we play,” Immings said. “We play two kinds of music: oom-pah and oom-pah-pah.”

He said that their music provides listeners with cultural roots, and he loves that the music is being played in Coronado.  

“It’s fundamental to all the kinds of music that have followed after that,” he said. “I think it’s worth tapping your foot to.”

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