As each semester winds down, musicians in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies program tune up to showcase their talent.
“This is the end of the year and it’s a great time to highlight the best that we can offer,” said Dan Boner, program director.
Bands ranging in sound from Appalachian roots music to Celtic ensembles have anticipated their chance to jam together on stage at the Down Home tonight and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“Some of these bands have prepared and worked up numbers specifically for this all semester,” said John Goad, a graduate assistant and musician in the program.
Boner said some of the program’s 42 total bands were selected to play the two events.
“We’re very excited because these are our final performances of the semester,” Boner said. “We have some of the top bands in the program performing both evenings.”
Goad said the upcoming performances make for a good night to socialize.
“These performances are where people involved in the program get to mingle and hang out with their friends,” Goad said. “It’s always a lot of fun and there’s always someone cracking jokes on stage.”
Boner said it’s important to include the community in these events.
“It’s a program the community can be a part of and get to know our students,” Boner said. “We have a good audience and the community supports us very well. We hope to see as many supporters as possible come out and be a part of the evening with us. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Goad said although many of the students see the two events as a chance to have fun, all musicians participating in the showcase will receive a grade.
“There’s a little bit of pressure for the students to perform at their very best,” Boner said.
Boner said students are getting real-world experience in implementing skills learned through the program like virtuosity in their playing, stage presence and audience interaction.
“This is just a fun time for all of us to get together and showcase some of the best talent in the whole entire program,” Boner said.
Six students who selected the program as their main field of study will be graduating this semester, Goad said.
“For them, it’s kind of like their last hoorah,” Goad said. “It’s kind of bitter sweet from a personal stand point but it’s definitely something I look forward to.”
Goad said his performance with the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band on Wednesday will mark a beginning and end for him.
“Next semester I won’t be performing, I will actually be teaching my own bands,” Goad said. “I’m really looking forward to that opportunity, but two of the other six people in my band are graduating and going elsewhere. This will be the last performance of that band as I know it.”
Others in the program will be experiencing the same sentiments about spending time with band mates before they graduate, Goad said.
“That’s just my story,” Goad said. “There are several other people that that will be happening to.”
For the past several years, Goad said he’s looked forward to playing during the program’s final performances.
He said performances like these are what prepares students in the program for successful music careers.
“The objective is to end up doing what you love to do for a profession,” Goad said.
Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at the Down Home, Campbell’s Morrell Music, or by calling ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies at 439-7072. The Down Home is located at 300 W. Main St. Tickets will also be available at the door.