On Feb. 17 the 30-musician strong Southern Stars Symphonic Brass presented their "We've Got JR!" concert with Jason Ross of the Cumberland County Playhouse as their guest artist. The audience of around 550 was the largest to attend SSSB's winter concert in their five years in existence, and it was in tribute to their outstanding ensemble of professional musicians, as well to Ross, whose loyal fans were in attendance.
Ross delivered his unique brand of humor and stage presence into his two feature numbers of "Mack the Knife" and "I've Got You Under My Skin," and the Southern Stars provided their polished presentations with the flair which confirms their "Premium Entertainment" motto.
Instrumental soloists from the ensemble further demonstrated the outstanding skills possessed by these musicians:
1. Two piccolo trumpets soaring through a baroque selection of a J.S. Bach composition.
2. A euphonium duet of dazzling technique on Herbert Clarke's "Cousins."
3. Chris McCormick's smooth jazz trumpet improvisation of the ballad "Laura."
4. The entire trombone section demonstrating their trombone slide "smear' techniques on the novelty selection "Shoutin' Liza Trombone."
Not to be outdone, Artistic Director Dwight Wages and Music Director Dr. Steven Sudduth have selected another blockbuster program of music for their spring concert set for Saturday, April 20 at 7 p.m. It will be presented at the Central Baptist Church in Crossville.
To make the concert a further hit, they are bringing Nashville's Pete Huttlinger to perform as a guest artist. Huttlinger is an acoustic guitar phenom who is a previous national finger-picking champion and was in John Denver's band for three years until Denver's unfortunate plane crash.
Huttlinger is a recording artist with several CDs to his credit and has a successful career as a touring solo artist. He has such Nashville icons as Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, John Oates and Buddy Greene raving about his outstanding skills. In fact, it was Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor, last April's guest artists, who recommended Pete Huttlinger to Wages as a "great person and outstanding performer" to invite as a guest artist for a Southern Stars concert.
For this concert, Huttlinger will be performing two selections with the brass ensemble — the Beatles' Lennon and McCartney composition "Hey Jude" and the big band era hit made famous by Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa "Sing, Sing, Sing." The latter will also feature Chris McCormick on jazz trumpet a la Harry James, and Kurt Snider on trap drum set for significant percussion licks throughout this selection. Huttlinger will also be providing a separate 30-minute segment of the concert performing his solo selections.
The SSSB portion of the concert will have two guest conductor appearances. Dr. Donald Ryder (initial Southern Stars conductor for first two seasons) will direct Henry Fillmore's "The Klaxon" march, and Michael Gallehue (composer/arranger of many selections previously performed by the SSSB) will direct his arrangement of the stirring patriotic selection by John Williams "Liberty Fanfare," which was written for the centennial of the Statue of Liberty.
Joel Tillman, principal cornetist will be featured in a dazzling presentation of "Gypsy Airs." Brandon Jones will be featured with a euphonium solo of a distinctly Irish flavored composition called "'neath the Dublin Skies." This will be Jones' last concert with Southern Stars, as he has accepted the invitation to join the prestigious U.S. Air Force Band based in Washington, D.C. They are extremely proud of his contributions to the band during his four years with Southern Stars and know that he will have a successful military career serving in this prestigious band. So come and hear Jones one last time and purchase one of his CDs as a memory of his outstanding musicianship.
Sponsors for this concert are:
Season Sponsors — Bed and Biscuit Kennel.
Concert Sponsors — Cumberland Eye Care (Dr. Stuart Galloway) and State Farm Insurance (David Bell).
Guest Artist Sponsors — Cumberland County Bank and the city of Crossville.
Tickets for the concert are $20 for adults and $5 for students and will be available beginning March 11 at the following locations: Cumberland Eye Care in Fairfield Glade, First National Bank of Tennessee branches in Crossville and Fairfield Glade, Bed and Biscuit Kennel off Peavine Rd. and at the box office and website of the Cumberland County Playhouse.