USAO Showband gets into 'swing' of things with dance, fundraiser
The ballroom at the University of Science and Arts is scheduled to come alive with the sounds of Western swing as the USAO Showband hosts a fundraising dance on Saturday from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
A portion of the proceeds will go toward purchasing uniforms for the Southeast High School marching band.
Donna Settlemires, assistant director to the showband, graduated from Southeast in 1972. She noted that, when she was a student, Southeast had a vibrant music program that came to a halt when the school was closed in 1990.
In 1994, the school was re-opened as a magnet school focusing on technology programs.
More recently, Southeast High School has resurrected its marching band program and is currently in its third year of having a marching band again but the effort has not been without its difficulties.
“As I was talking with a group of alums,” Settlemires recalled, “we were so proud to see the music program coming back.
“We thought it was sad, though, that as of right now, the marching band has to go on the field at the football games wearing t-shirts instead of proper marching band uniforms.”
According to Settlemires, the USAO showband has been committed, since its inception in 2002, to raising money and awareness for a host of worthy causes.
“We try to give back to the community,” Settlemires noted, “because that’s what we want the kids to learn how to do.”
The dance will also serve as valuable training for the band as it prepares to play a similar event for a much larger audience of more than 2000 people at the 40th Annual Bob Wills Day Festival in Turkey, TX this coming April. More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the festival over the course of the weekend.
The band is directed by Joe Settlemires who is the youngest living member of Bob Wills band, The Texas Playboys. Western swing music is a type of country music that got its start in the late 1920s. It is dance music, often with an up-tempo beat. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys were the most famous practitioner of this style of music.
Special performers at Saturday’s dance include Jude Northcutt – of Jude and Jody Furniture fame – who sang and played rhythm guitar with country music legend Hank Thompson. Also joining the band will be Stacie McCracken, an alum of USAO, who performed with the USAO Showband for the first five years of its existence. McCracken has rejoined the band for the year.
The current line-up of the USAO Showband is Brandon Calderon, Brandon Gibson, Jason Hobbs, Mac Stephenson, Colton Neighbors, Olen Cox, Robert Glass, Dr. Tom Wicks, Katrina Bennett and Lisa Fruit.
For more information about the dance, call (405) 574-1318.