FERRUM, VA, September 13, 2023 – Ferrum College announces Bluegrass Brass as their new field performance band. The band will make their debut at Saturday’s upcoming football game against La Grange with kick-off scheduled for noon. In addition to leading the student section in cheering on the Black Hats, Bluegrass Brass will showcase their talent with a halftime performance on the field.
Bluegrass Brass came into being because of Artistic Director, Rachel Blankenship-Tucker. “We wanted to create a new ensemble that would celebrate the unique sounds of Ferrum College. The field show will be performed by Bluegrass Brass and Orchestra Appalachia, which will make it a one-of-a-kind performance,” said director of Appalachian Music Emily Blankenship- Tucker.
“This is a collaborative project. The creative team includes Rachel Blankenship-Tucker as Artistic Director, Band Director David Saleeba overseeing marching and instrumental techniques, and myself. I arranged the score and will conduct the show. We’re currently working with twenty student musicians. We’re working to create something totally new and unexpected – something that will be truly memorable and entertaining for everyone in the stadium,” she says.
Ferrum College junior Emily Walker said the opportunity to join Bluegrass Brass happened by chance. “I’d never heard of a Bluegrass field show before. No other schools around us have this. It’s just something else that sets Ferrum apart. We have the talent in the music department to do it, and it definitely needs to be showcased,” Walker said.
The band will open with“Struttin’ to Ferrum,” followed by “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” with Emily Walker on vocals, and “500 Miles.”
All Ferrum students, including non-musicians, are encouraged to participate in Bluegrass Brass if they wish. Participants not playing instruments can participate in The Explosion. “Members of The Explosion will be on the field performing choreographed movement, including the ‘Ferrum Strut’, and getting the crowd involved and excited,” Blankenship-Tucker said. “Several athletic teams have volunteered to participate in The Explosion, and new members are welcome to join! We welcome any faculty, staff, or students who would like to be a part of the show. The movement is simple enough that anyone can join in. All they need is school spirit and a willingness to participate,” she continued.
Remington Davis, a high school sophomore from Franklin County High School, exemplifies how this new band is in keeping with other Ferrum performing arts groups who welcome community member participation. Davis joined the band because he loves playing music. He has been playing for seven years. “I love playing my banjo and my guitar. I can sit and play all day long and be fine,” Davis said.
Artistic Director Rachel Blankenship-Tucker had great things to say about Davis joining their new ensemble. “We wanted to get in touch with Remington because he is such a fantastic banjo player. “Struttin to Ferrum” is not an average song. It’s very challenging to play. We sought him out because of the way that he plays,” said Rachel.
Blankenship-Tucker is honored to have “Struttin’ to Ferrum as the theme of the show. “Gene Parker is widely known for his amazing musicianship. This tune is funky, fun, and exciting and it’s going to be a whole lot of fun to perform. To prepare for this show, Remington went directly to the source and learned the tune from Gene Parker himself,” she concludes.
College President, Dr. Mirta Martin is thrilled by the creativity and collaboration that brought Bluegrass Brass to life. ““It is inspiring to see our marching band students embrace this collaboration with Orchestra Appalachia to create a new band that is unique to Ferrum College. Not only does the band showcase the immense musical talent of our students and community, but also how the music of the region is versatile and exciting for musicians and listeners of all ages and backgrounds. The Explosion performance extends the opportunity to participate to anyone who wants to share the excitement. We are extremely proud of the faculty who are leading this endeavor and overjoyed to share the first performance with the entire Panther family on Saturday.”