It never fails.

It never fails.

When Jed Hacker plays his alpine horn in concert, somebody in the audience invariably yells out "Ree-co-lah," referring to the humorous commercials promoting Ricola cough drops.

But Hacker has maintained a sense of humor about it.

"You just go with it," he said.

Hacker, who lives in the Northland area, is a member of the Alpine Gruezie, a local alphorn group that plays at concerts throughout the year in Ohio.

Members of the ensemble will appear at a concert Sunday, Dec. 9, benefitting the South Side Community Food Pantry at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Merion Village.

The concert, presented by the Columbus Swiss Singers and the Germania Singing Society, is slated for 4 p.m. at the church, 225 E. Gates St.

The concert is free and open to the public, but donations are encouraged.

Kathy Megown, a member of both singing groups, said the alphorns offer a rich acoustic element to the show.

"It's usually quite an audience draw," she said. "The sound is deep and booming. It's kind of an awesome sound."

Hacker said he thinks the instrument is misunderstood.

"I guess a lot of people only see it in these commercials and they think it is like a kazoo," he said.

Not so: It's more of a brass instrument made of out of wood, although it has no valves or keys, he said.

The alpine horn is very closely related to the French horn, he said and if you were to unfold a French horn it would be the same length as an alpine horn -- 11 feet, 6 inches.

"I always say it's a big, overgrown bugle," Hacker said.

"The instrument is fairly melodic, actually."

Hacker, 40, has been playing the French horn since grade school and was a music major at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York Potsdam.

It wasn't until 2008, however, that he purchased an alphorn without vast experience playing one beforehand.

"A lot of French horn payers are drawn to the mystique of it," said Hacker, a quality control specialist and purchasing agent for Crawford Products.

"I don't know what really sparked my interest, but I was really drawn to the sound of the instrument," he said.

"It was just a really rich sounding instrument. I just thought it was really cool."

But it can also be a challenging instrument.

"What makes it difficult is you're playing on the mouthpiece at one end and the sound is 12 feet away," Hacker said.

"When you get several people together you've got to play by memory."

He said he doesn't know if the instrument ever will achieve any pop-culture identity.

"There are some alternative alphorn players out there," he said. "I'm not one of them."