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Take the A Train - Rowan Big Band
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The BAND

From the beginning, founder Ron Turbyfill's vision for the band has been to help support charitable causes in Piedmont North Carolina by providing quality entertainment for charity events and fundraisers. Over the years the Rowan Big Band has performed at benefits for charities such as Communities in Schools, Speedway Childrens' Charities, the USO, American Cancer Society, The American Legion Auxiliary, W.G. Hefner Veterans' Medical Center and others.

 

The Rowan Big Band All Stars' extensive library of big band standards and swing era favorites from the 1930's through the present day provides a wide variety of songs and styles, and is sufficient for us to perform up to 3 hours of music for your event,  including ballads, swing tunes, pop hits, vocals, solo instrument features and ensemble performances.

The Rowan Big Band All Stars is an 18-piece community big band in the tradition of Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and other early twentieth-century great bandleaders, home-based in Landis, North Carolina and specializing in Great American Songbook favorites and big band swing.  First organized in 2000, the Band is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving this uniquely American style of music and sharing our appreciation of it with others.  The members of our band volunteer their talents for performances, and the net proceeds from our musical performances are used to support worthwhile local charities.  Our logo is a "swingin' square."

Our All Star Musicians

Ron Turbyfill, Director/1st Alto Sax

RBBAS Founder and Director Ron Turbyfill is a career music educator who enjoys giving musicians - his students and friends - the opportunity to perform!  Turbyfill leads the band both in rehearsals and in concert while holding down the lead alto sax chair.  Turbyfill holds degrees in Music Education from East Carolina University (BMEd 1979) and UNC Greensboro (MMEd 1988, PhD 1997) and was a band and choral director for many years before becoming a school administrator.  Now retired after 35 years in K-12 public education, he  serves as Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Rowan County and is the Choir Director at St. James Lutheran Church in Rockwell. Turbyfill resides in Landis with his wife, Kim.  They have two grown sons.

Michelle Lee Trivette, 2nd Alto Sax

Michelle's Twitter account describes her as "wife, dog groomer, saxophone instructor and musician."  We think that the "musician" part of her description should be higher up in the list, but the other stuff helps to pay the bills!  Michelle graduated from Western Carolina and in 2006 began teaching music at Cleveland Elementary School, where she was accorded the honor of "Teacher of the Year" in 2012-13. More recently she was assigned to Enochville and Bostian Elementaries where she currently teaches.    Married to West Rowan HS Band Director Daniel Trivette, music permeates Michelle's life, and those who work with her appreciate her for the passion and dedication she brings to her craft.

Ed Harper, 1st Tenor Sax

Ed Harper recently accepted the position of Director of Bands at Concord Sr. High School in Charlotte, NC; before that he was the band director at South Mecklenburg High School.   In May of 2013, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in Music Education, where he studied Saxophone with Dr. Will Campbell. Along with his teaching obligations he continues to perform with the Rowan Big Band All-Stars and the Piedmont Primetime Community Band in Kannapolis, NC. The student jazz ensembles under his direction have played gigs all over the Greater Charlotte-Metro Area and have received Superior ratings at the UNC-Charlotte Jazz Festival and Western Region Jazz Ensemble Festival. Ed resides in Concord, NC with his wife, Amanda, who is also a trumpet player and a life-long lover of music, and their miniature schnauzer, Rigby.

Tim Hedrick, 2nd Tenor Sax & Clarinet

Albemarle native Tim Hedrick received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Appalachian State University in 1973. After teaching High School and Middle School Band for 4 years at Bunker Hill High School in Claremont, NC and 26 years at Albemarle High School, he retired from teaching in 2003. Always a strong supporter of the arts, Tim has played with numerous local musical groups in the area and is currently serving on the board of directors for the Stanly County Concert Association

Mary Ellen Williams, Baritone Sax

Mary Ellen Lenox Williams began her musical pursuits in the fourth grade starting out on the Bb clarinet, and in later years switched to the alto clarinet and the bass clarinet. As a college freshman she became the first bass clarinet major in the history of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  She later applied to  nursing school and was awarded an Army ROTC scholarship, which led her to put her instrument down for 20 years.  After 5 years of Active Duty in the Army Nurse Corps as an ICU nurse and a successful career as an Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine, Mary Ellen was persuaded by a colleague to join the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band in Kannapolis. After a year or two she noticed a need for a baritone sax so she purchased one and taught herself how to play it; she later developed an interest in the bassoon, studying with Joshua Hood of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.  She has appeared with the Salisbury Swing Band and the Lake Norman Big Band, and continues to perform with the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band and the Rowan Big Band All-Stars.

Chris Wilson, 1st Trombone

Concord native and first trombone Chris Wilson graduated from Pfeiffer College and teaches band and chorus at South Stanley Middle School.  He has been a part of the Rowan Big Band All Stars for more than ten years and plays regularly for his church and local musical productions.

Randell Hastings, 2nd Trombone

Randell, a native of Kannapolis, N.C., is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of North Carolina School of Law, and has practiced law in Concord, N.C. since 1978.  Randell tells anyone who will listen that he is not a musician and has no formal musical training.  After playing a year with the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band, Randell joined the Rowan Big Band All Stars in September of 2008 having never seen - much less played - a piece of jazz music.  Simply put, he claims to be "just a lawyer who happens to own a trombone."  Unlike Abraham Lincoln, Randell apparently believes that you actually can fool all of the people all of the time!

Charles Emerich, 3rd Trombone

Charles Emerich moved to Davidson, North Carolina from Connecticut in 2012 following retirement as Music Department Chair at Kent School, Kent CT.  Charles earned his Master's degree in Music Education from Penn State University. During his 30-year tenure at Kent he conducted instrumental ensembles, taught music theory and music survey courses, and directed the school's concert band, jazz ensemble, brass ensemble, Dixieland band and pit orchestra. Charles was the principal trombonist with the Danbury (Connecticut) Symphony for twenty years; he was a member of the Brass Guild Quintet and the Salisbury (CT) Community Band, and he founded the jazz quartet "The AlgoRhythms."  He has conducted choral organizations and adult ensembles in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York including the Elderhostel/ Road Scholars Orchestra on the Housatonic, the National Woodwind Ensemble in Albany, NY, and the Danbury (CT) Music Centre Chamber Orchestra.  Locally, Mr. Emerich has performed with the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band, Charlotte Concert Band, Lake Norman Orchestra, Lake Norman Big Band, and the Rowan Big Band All Stars.

Eric Shakespeare, Bass Trombone (IV)

Kingsburg, CA, native Eric Shakespeare has lived in Concord, NC since 1996. He started playing viola in 4th grade, tuba in 5th grade, and trombone in junior high and high school in order to be in the jazz band. Eric was a vocal music major in college at San Jose State University, and during that time he had the opportunity to study jazz improvisation with Bobby McFerrin. He later transferred to Fresno State University where he earned a BA in Music Education and taught music in the public schools for eight years. Since 2000 he has worked in Charlotte as a financial analyst. Eric has played trombone for many years in church and has played bass trombone with the Rowan Big Band All-Stars since 2008.

Van Rowell, 1st Trumpet

Originally from Newport News, VA,  Van Rowell started playing the cornet in the 5th grade.  Fast forward four years and he had become the 1st cornet in the Newport News HS senior band from his Freshman through Senior Year, 1st cornet in the HS District Band, and 1st cornet in the 1963 "All Virginia HS Band".  He received a BS and MS degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and is a registered Professional Engineer in NC, SC, and VA; spent three years on active duty in the US Army and then worked in the water/waste water public utility field for 35+ years before retiring.  Just after being discharged from the Army he picked up his trumpet and started  playing again with local brass ensemble groups and for weddings and other special events.  Since then he’s played lead/1st trumpet with the Greensboro Concert band (10 years), the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band (Cabarrus County), the Rowan Big Band All Stars, and the First Baptist Church of Concord NC, orchestra.  He and his wife Mattie live in Kannapolis, NC and have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.

Bill Hall, Asst 1st Trumpet

Concord resident Bill Hall attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston majoring in Arranging and Composition and furthered his education at Western Illinois University with an M.A. in Theory and Composition.  He held the positions of Concert Band director at Chicago State University and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of North Dakota, serving as Brass Instructor at both schools. He was a principal trumpet in the Arlington Symphony Orchestra in Arlington, Mass. and has played with major stars such as Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight, Lou Rawls, Bob Hope, Vicky Carr, Tom Jones, and many others. Bill studied with the world renowned brass teacher Claude Gordon in Los Angeles for eight years; while in Los Angeles Bill performed with many groups and studio sessions and most notably as Harry James’ lead trumpet player. Bill has also composed radio jingles for the Chicago market, and is a member of ASCAP, NAJE, and NARAS. Bill left the music industry to pursue a career in home construction, but after a 26-year break he decided pick up his trumpet again to play big band jazz, and we're glad he did! 

Ned Weavil, 2nd Trumpet

Denton, North Carolina native Ned Weavil started playing trumpet in sixth grade when he happened to find his uncle's cornet at his grandparent's home.  Young Ned asked them to let him borrow the instrument for school band, and that was the beginning of a love for music that has never left him.  In high school he played at churches with a local gospel group, at Wingate college in their concert, stage and pep band, and later with the UNCC Pep Band when he attended college there. After graduating from college he put away his trumpet to concentrate on his career, but some 25 years later he picked it back up and joined the Piedmont Primetime Community Band. A year after that he was invited to join the Rowan Big Band All Stars and continues to play with both bands.  Ned is the Director of Accounting and Retirement Benefits for Belk, Inc. and currently lives in Concord, NC; he has one daughter.

 

Don Angel, 3rd Trumpet

Originally from upstate New York, Don Angel attended college at Rochester Institute of Technology. His work took him to Quakertown, PA. where he joined the Quakertown Band, a well established community band playing at the highest level. In 1992 work moved him again to Huntersville, NC, where at the time there was no local community band.  Don played for several years with the Matthews Concert Band when it started, and more recently joined the Piedmont Primetime Community Band in Kannapolis, NC. He continues to play with this group and the Rowan Big Band All-Stars. He says that his other interests include playing golf, two horses and wine tastings (not necessarily in that order).

Conard Haywood, 4th Trumpet

Conard is the band's resident Barbeque restaurant proprietor, and has played trumpet with the Rowan Big Band for more years than he cares to admit.  You know he loves his music when his work takes so much of his time and yet he still finds the time to hold down his place in the trumpet section.  Conard has on occasion generously provided the band a place to practice right there in the front of his restaurant, Varsity Barbeque and Creamery, located at 1907 South Cannon Blvd. in Kannapolis, so don't be surprised if you see a bunch of guys with band instruments hanging out there!  Stop by the next time you're headed that way... You're helping a musician pay his bills!  (Oh... and the barbeque and ice cream is great too!)

Nancy Sloop, Keyboards

When Nancy Brewer Sloop was a child she wanted to sing, dance and play the piano, and she has done exactly that for most of her adult life.  She began singing in the church choir at age 12, and piano lessons followed at the age of 13.  Nancy studied piano and voice at Wingate and Meredith Colleges and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia.  Teaching elementary music enabled her to continue her childhood wish; she taught Cabarrus County students for 30 years.  She has also played the organ at local churches for over 40 years.  She is a co-founder of the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band where she plays percussion, and the Windsong Recorder Ensemble where she plays bass recorder.  She has sung and danced in two musicals at the Old Courthouse Theatre in Concord.      

Austen Peters, Drums

Austen Peters has been playing percussion since age nine and holds a music degree from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Austen has performed in almost every genre including concert percussion (Piedmont Wind Symphony), jazz and big band (Rowan Big Band All Stars and the Salisbury Swing Band), contemporary Christian (High Rock Church of Lexington), rock (Catawba Vernaculars), musical theatre, and more.  Peters works for Separk Music and owns and operates the Winston-Salem based Peters Drum Company, a musicians' source for custom drums and accessories.

Craig Malz, Bass

Born into a musical family, Craig Malz first learned piano at a young age from his piano-teaching Mom, and then focused primarily on trombone, bass and guitar through high school.  Craig became the lead trombonist and back up bassist with the legendary “Alumni of Note,” a traditional Big Band that has performed in Charlotte consistently for over four decades, as well as playing regularly in church and on mission trips.  Currently, Craig regularly plays upright bass throughout the Charlotte area with The Pacific Coast Highway Jazz Combo which he co-founded, as well as various other jazz bands, including The Rowan Big Band All Stars. Craig says he loves “laying down the low-frequency carpet,”  providing a solid foundation that other band-mates can rely on in creating a rich musical dialogue.  

Graham Carlton, Guitar & Banjo

Salisbury attorney and musician Graham Carlton learned to play the guitar at an early age; while still a high school student he toured as a musician with a New York-based production of “Godspell”.  Since then he has performed locally and regionally with many musical groups performing bluegrass to gospel to jazz, as well as working with the Piedmont Players and the Lee Street Theatre variously as a musician, actor and musical director.  He has also been recruited to play for Catawba College productions and the Salisbury Symphony. Graham is an active member of the First Baptist Church in Salisbury where he plays regularly with the church praise band.

Buddy Gragg, Tuba

When it's time to play a few Louisiana-style Dixieland classics, you gotta have that big brass for the low notes, and we've got the bass covered with our own Malcolm "Buddy" Gragg!  Buddy graduated from Appalachian State University in 1999 with a music education degree and has been teaching music at the elementary level ever since.  He currently teaches music at Bethel Elementary in Midland, NC. 

Nikki Jones-Bailey, Vocals

Vocalist Nikki Jones-Bailey first met Dr. Turbyfill when she was one of his jazz band students at West Rowan High School, and he knew even then that she was a talented singer.  When she saw him about 4 years ago at a Rowan Big Band Christmas show he invited her to sing with the band, and she has been performing with them ever since.  Nikki is passionate about everything she does; she is a cosmetic and implant dentist in Concord and she has been on several mission trips to East Africa where she provided emergency dental treatment.  She is the owner of Trinity Cosmetic & General Dentistry in Concord; she is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Elevation Church in Charlotte.  She and husband Dr. Robee Bailey, Jr. - also a dental specialist practicing orthodontics, implants and periodontics - live in Charlotte.

Bill Bucher Jr., Vocals

Vocalist Bill Bucher Jr.  has enjoyed playing music and performing since the mid-1970's when he covered keyboards, guitar  and vocals with the guys in his Potomac, Maryland high school garage rock band.  Inspired by his father, Bill Sr., a World-War II veteran, self-taught jazz pianist and lifelong big band enthusiast,  Bill says that he has "had a thing for swing" from his childhood and now he's using the freedom of his retirement years to pursue his love for the craft with renewed enthusiasm and dedication. He has performed with local musical groups and church choirs for more than thirty years; he has appeared in several productions of the Piedmont Players Theatre and has performed as a vocalist with the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra at their annual "Big Band Bash" fundraiser events.   Bill recently attended a vocal jazz workshop taught by Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian, Peter Eldridge and Lauren Kinhan, all members of the world-class vocal jazz quartet, the New York Voices.  Bill and his wife Gayla live near Salisbury.  Read more about Bill on his website at billbucherjr.com.

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