RBBAS Founder Dr. Ron Turbyfill
The Rowan Big Band All Stars is an 18-member traditional community big band in the style of Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and other great early twentieth-century bandleaders, home-based in Landis, North Carolina and specializing in Great American Songbook favorites and "big band swing." First organized in 2006, 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."
From the beginning, founder Ron Turbyfill's vision for the Band has been not only to keep the heritage of big band music alive, but also to support local charitable causes 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 a wide variety of music for your event, including ballads, swing tunes, pop hits, vocals, solo instrument features and ensemble performances.
Our All Star Musicians
Tim Hedrick, RBB Music Director & 2nd Tenor Sax
Bandleader Tim Hedrick received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Appalachian State University in 1973. He taught high school and middle school Band for four years at Catawba Middle School and Bunker Hill High School in Claremont, NC where he was named Teacher Of The Year in 1977. In the Fall of 1977 he became the Band Director at Albemarle High School and Middle School, where he taught for 26 years. He was the 2003 recipient of the North Carolina Band Director’s Association Award of Excellence for the South Central District. Retiring from public school teaching in 2003, he taught for three years at First Assembly Christian School and later worked for music retailer Music & More. Tim has served as a concert and marching adjudicator and clinician in North Carolina and Tennessee; he was a keyboard player and music arranger for the Beach and Classic Top 40 Band Gallery for 35 years. Always a strong supporter of the Arts, Tim currently performs with various local musical groups in the area. He serves as one of the Conductors of the Stanly County Concert Band and is Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Stanly County Concert Association.
Ed Harper, 1st Alto Sax
Ed Harper is the Director of Bands at Concord Sr. High School in Charlotte, NC; before that he was the band director at South Mecklenburg High School. Ed graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2013 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 - also a trumpet player and a life-long lover of music - and their miniature schnauzer, Rigby.
Mike Price, 2nd Alto Sax
Atlanta, Georgia native Mike Price started playing alto sax in the 3rd grade as a member of the famed East Atlanta Elementary Band. This group performed at many state and national music conferences; as a 7th grader he soloed with the EAEB at the Midwest conference in Chicago. Mike studied with Jim Houlik and James Forger at ECU. His sax students include Steve Pollock of the New Century Quartet and LSU saxophone professor Dr. Griff Campbell. Mike lives in Lexington with his partner of 21 years.
Jamin Shanti, 1st Tenor Sax
Jamin Shanti received his Bachelor of the Arts in Music from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000. Jamin performed with big bands in the Washington DC area for eight years before moving to Charlotte. Brasswind is a hobby of Jamin's... enjoy some of his favorite recordings @ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm2Cshx-R2cFWcUP0wLLlWA
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 Cooper - Baritone Saxophone
Charlotte, NC bari-sax player Chris Cooper grew up in Tega Cay, SC, and has been playing music since the sixth grade, first on piano, drums and then tenor sax in middle school. Chris’s earliest memories include listening to recordings of big bands with his dad. Chris played tenor sax with the award-winning Fort Mill High School Band and performed with the local playhouse for three seasons starting with “The Music Man,” where he acquired a love for live performances. He decided to attend Southeastern University (Lakeland, FL) and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. Although he heeded his grandmother's advice to "Get a job in computers," he never lost his attraction to playing music. Since leaving Florida in the mid-90s Chris has performed with various church orchestras on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. More recently Chris has performed on tenor and baritone sax ("and also played with toys in the percussion section," he adds) for eleven seasons with the Stanly County Concert Band in Albemarle, where he was recruited to play with the Rowan Big Band. Chris considers performing music to be a team sport; “Learning to listen, and blend, and understand where I fit into the ensemble makes it not only more challenging but also much more rewarding."
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, and four years he had become the 1st cornet in the Newport News HS senior band as a Freshman and later earned 1st cornet in the HS District Band and 1st cornet in the 1963 "All Virginia HS Band". He earned BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and is a registered Professional Engineer in NC, SC, and VA. Van 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. After his discharge from the Army he picked up his trumpet and started playing again with local brass ensemble groups for weddings and other special events. Since then he’s played lead/1st trumpet with the Greensboro Concert band, the Piedmont Prime Time Community Band (Cabarrus County), the Rowan Big Band All Stars, and the First Baptist Church of Concord, NC orchestra.
Bill Hall, Asst 1st Trumpet
Concord resident Bill Hall attended the 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 and served 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 renowned brass teacher Claude Gordon in Los Angeles for eight years; while in Los Angeles Bill performed with various groups and studio sessions, most notably as Harry James’ lead trumpet player. Bill has 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 26-years he decided pick up his trumpet again to play big band jazz. 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, Fieldhouse Barbeque, 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! (The barbeque and the wide selection of ice cream is great too!) Stop by the next time you're headed that way... You're helping a musician pay his bills!
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.
Kurt Varney, Drums
Multi-talented Kurt Varney first discovered his love of music by playing big band drums in his father's combo and as a young drummer for several local rock and country bands. He earned his BS Music Education degree from Mansfield State University in his home state of Pennsylvania and MA Music degree from SUNY Fredonia in New York State.
Kurt was Instrumental Band and Orchestra Director at Clymer Central Schools in NY for 31 years. While he was there he played lead tenor sax for the Christian Big Band 'Triumphant' for 11 years, he played with the Corry Big Band as substitute drummer and worked as a percussionist and sound tech with professional entertainment bands throughout the Tri-State area. Kurt’s professional honors include being the Chautauqua All-County Percussion Ensemble Chairman and Guest Conductor for the District II PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Concert Band and the Chautauqua All County 7th Grade Concert Band.
Upon his retirement to the beautiful shores of Badin Lake, NC, Kurt soon found the Pfeiffer University Jazz Band; he played trumpet under the direction of Rusty Smith for two years and he has been a percussionist for Albemarle local theater groups for over eight years. Currently, Kurt stays too busy for a retired man on the Lake (says his wife) with tuning pianos, instrument repair, and teaching students of all ages at 'Music on Main' in Albemarle. Kurt enjoys playing with the Rowan All Star Big Band and the North Stanley Concert Band; Kurt is also the drummer for the popular Randy Clay Band out of Concord.
Peter de Klerk, Bass
Charlotte resident Peter de Klerk plays bass with several jazz combos; he recently performed on stage in a held over production of "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" at the Actor's Theater of Charlotte. Before moving to the area in 2016, Peter taught at Colby College and performed with many combos throughout the state of Maine. Peter has a very musical family; his wife, Lynne, is a jazz singer and son Roy is saxophonist.
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 various musical groups performing bluegrass to gospel to jazz, as well as appearing with the Piedmont Players and the Lee Street Theatre variously as a musician, actor and musical director. He performs regularly with the Rowan Big Band, and has been recruited to play for Catawba College productions and the Salisbury Symphony.
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 at a Rowan Big Band Christmas show some years ago 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 been performing as a musician and singer ever since he co-founded a garage rock band in high school. Bill says that he has "had a thing for swing" from his earliest years and was inspired by his WWII veteran father Bill Sr., a self-taught jazz pianist and lifelong big band enthusiast. Over the years he has performed with various musical groups and church choirs and he has appeared in several productions of the Piedmont Players and Lee Street Theatres. More recently Bill has performed as a vocalist with the Salisbury Symphony Big Band at several of their events, including their "Big Band Bash" performances and "Pops at the Post." Bill still actively studies jazz, harmony and improvisation; he has studied voice with Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian, Peter Eldridge and Lauren Kinhan, members of the internationally acclaimed vocal jazz group The New York Voices. Bill and his wife Gayla live in Salisbury.
Alexis Cowan, Vocals
Alexis Cowan’s passion for vocal music inspired him from his youngest years, performing his first vocal solo in elementary school singing, “The Impossible Dream”. Raised in Rowan County, Alexis’ choral music experiences include singing with the South Rowan High School Concert Chorus and Men Chorus, attending NC Governors School in the Arts, participating in All-State Chorus, attending a summer program at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey and touring with the Winston-Salem State University Choir as a lead vocalist.
More recently he has performed as a soloist with the RowanBig Band, Pray Rowan and the MLK Humanitarian Breakfast, and has led praise and worship in local churches. He has also been invited to perform stage roles such as that in the theater production, “Ain’t Misbehavin”. He will always acknowledge that his talent and skill development were consistently fostered by his mother, the late Francis C. Cowan, a lifelong accomplished singer, choral music director in Rowan County Schools, and church music director known across the state and the nation.
Currently Alexis is a High School Principal in the Rowan Salisbury School District.