Pay attention when you hear the staccato of drums coming from Farragut High School this week. It’s the sound of world-class musicians who have come from across the U.S. to knock our socks off.
Drums Across the Smokies is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11, at the FHS football stadium. It’s hosted by Music City Drum Corps and the FHS Band Boosters. Music City is one of eight drum corps that will perform, and believe me when I say this – you don’t want to miss it.
Mike Webb is on the board of Music City Youth in the Arts, the nonprofit parent organization of the Nashville-based Music City. He describes a drum corps performance as “a Broadway musical on a football field.” I would add that the sheer size of the spectacle adds a magical element that will raise goosebumps.
Music City is in its 11th year. Last year was its first year to perform with a World Class rating; growing organizations are in the Open Class. Over 600 young people auditioned for 154 spots last fall, although many of those auditioned for multiple drum corps, Webb says. The age range for participants is 16-21, but exceptions have been made for younger performers.
The Nashville corps draws participants from more than 20 states and Puerto Rico. It’s attractive to potential members because of its geographic location and its family atmosphere, he says. Once on board, members are expected to be brand ambassadors while on tour through good manners and behavior.
The practice schedule is grueling. Members attend monthly practices December through April, and four weeks of all-day practices begin Memorial Day weekend. The rigor prepares members for a 50-day tour, which kicked off June 24. The corps will travel approximately 10,000 miles on chartered buses to perform in 25 shows from Massachusetts to Texas to Florida. Two tractor-trailer trucks accompany them – one with equipment and one with a kitchen equipped to feed the corps, along with a support staff of 30, four meals a day. Students sleep on school gym floors while traveling.
For all this, corps members pay an annual fee. They do it because it’s the best experience a young performer could have in terms of growing up, seeing the country and experiencing the joy of performing in front of a crowd, Webb says. He knows because he did it himself as a high school and college student. Along the way, the students learn the responsibility of being part of a team. All members have a job while on the road, and if they don’t do their part, the entire corps suffers.
“It’s a life-changing opportunity for these kids.”
It adds up to an astounding level of professionalism that will be obvious to anyone who attends the Farragut show. In addition to Music City, it will feature the Boston Crusaders, Heatwave, Jersey Surf, Louisiana Stars, Phantom Regiment, Southwind and Spirit of Atlanta. Music City’s show, titled “Of Mice and Men,” tells the story of the country mouse and the city mouse through music, costumes and props.
This is the third year Drums Across the Smokies has come to Farragut. Get tickets today here to support high-caliber entertainment on the town’s front porch.
Wendy Smith, a former journalist, is public relations and marketing coordinator for the town of Farragut and writes The Farragut Insider for the town’s website.