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The East Lincoln High School jazz band is gearing up for a concert – but this is not like the usual school band performance held in an auditorium. Like all concerts, it’s a fund raiser but it’s an advocacy event as well. Plus, it’s a black-tie affair with a plated meal included in the ticket price.

The ELHS Band Gatsby Gala 2020 will be held at the Laboratory Mill on Thursday, March 12. The band will play music from the roaring 20s which will include big band music, such as hits from Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong. Then, there will be a keynote speaker. 

James Daugherty who is currently serving as the Arts Education and Distance Learning Program Specialist for the Davidson County Schools and is the Director of Cannon Music Camp at Appalachian State University will present. 

“He’ll speak for about 30 minutes about the importance of music in our schools, his experience and how he’s seeing music have a positive effect on people’s lives,” ELHS director of bands Matthew Brusseau said. “You can get dressed up and come out and have a nice meal, hear about what we do in terms of music in the schools and allow us to advocate for what these kids get in our classrooms.”

Previous to Daugherty’s appointments in 2015, he served for 21 years as band director and instructor of music theory at Central Davidson High School in Lexington assisting daily with the band instruction at Central Davidson Middle School. In 2019 he completed his 29th summer on the faculty/staff of Cannon Music Camp where he had served as the Dean of Men for 20 years.

In addition to the music and keynote speaker, there will be a plated dinner served and a silent auction. Businesses can purchase a table for $250 (eight seats) and individual tickets are $30 each. All of the money raised will go towards the band program at East Lincoln. 

“Over the years, we haven’t done a lot of replacing of instruments and equipment so that the kids are playing on instruments that aren’t functioning correctly,” Brusseau said. “Our instrument and equipment inventory is starting to deteriorate to the point that we can’t have it fixed anymore. The main thing these funds will go for is to provide high quality instruments and equipment.”

The East Lincoln Band Program has a rich history of success in all facets of the program which includes the marching band, concert bands, jazz band, and winter ensembles, Brusseau added. These individual pieces of the puzzle are extremely expensive to keep going. Annually, the program runs a $90,000 budget. This budget funds transportation to all events, fuel, instrument repair, new music, flags and everyday items that are required for the band to be successful. 

The 1920s were an important time period for American music, in particular jazz. 

“It had a huge effect on the culture,” Brusseau said. “Jazz is truly an American genre. We really wanted to showcase that in our first annual gala. The kids have been practicing twice a week after school for about two hours. They’re preparing about eight to nine pieces of music which is pretty heavy. Usually we only do three or four per concert. They’re very excited about the event. I really think that they’re going to get a lot from Mr. Daugherty as well.”

The mission statement for the East Lincoln Band Program is to provide a thriving, comprehensive 6-12 band program that offers life-changing experiences to children in the concert hall, on the marching field, in the gymnasium and in the practice room that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“Personally, I have seen this program support children through the toughest of times at home,” Brusseau said. “This is what they have to look forward to on a daily basis.”

The ELHS Band Gatsby Gala 2020 will be held on Thursday, March 12 from 6 – 9:30 p.m. Laboratory Mill which is located at 848 Southfork Road in Lincolnton.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.elhsbandgala.eventcreate.comor email matthew.brusseau@lincoln.k12.nc.us or Shayln Brooks at elbandvicepresident@gmail.com or call Brusseau at (704) 736-1860 to purchase tickets.

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