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Red Wing Republican-Eagle: American Queen passenger of note back onboard

By Samantha Bengs on Oct 13, 2016 at 5:30 a.m.

Trombone repairSummer through autumn, the American Queen riverboat becomes a frequent guest to Levee Park. Billed as the largest steamboat ever built, the American Queen plies the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Minneapolis. On board the impressive riverboat stands the two-deck tall Grand Saloon. The theatre was built to resemble small town opera houses of the 19th century, according to American Queen Steamboat Company information. Features within the theatre are modeled after the historic Ford's Theater in Washington D.C.

For Tom Rastorfer, of Branson, Mo., the ornate theater serves as his workspace. A professional trombonist, Rastorfer is a member of the riverboat's six-piece orchestra. The musicians play two shows each evening. The genres of music include Broadway hits, jazz, blues, ragtime, bluegrass, country and rock n' roll, Rastorfer said.

During his latest month-long shift on the Mississippi River, Rastorfer's custom trombone needed repair. To keep the instrument playable, Rastorfer improvised. "It had been broken for some time," he said. "I had taped around the problem."

With nearly 40 years of playing experience, Rastorfer said he had worked some musicians with connections to the band instrument repair program at the Minnesota State College Southeast campus in Red Wing.

"Most horn players know about Red Wing in one way or another," he said. "You hear about the school and it sticks with you."

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