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JSU Steel Drum Band brings island rhythm to playhouse

Nicknamed “INFERNO,” the Jacksonville State University (JSU) Steel Drum Band is a talented group of students and faculty that performs at a variety of venues since its formation in 2010 by Dr. Thomas McCutchen. 

They have performed at the Alabama Music Educators Association convention, the Canyon Center Concert Series (Little River Canyon Center), the Cheaha Challenge, the Rainbow City Chocolate Festival, Habitat for Humanity Dragon Boat Festival and numerous school concerts in the region.

Now, Ellijay can enjoy the group’s “Caribbean island feeling” and musicianship when eight members of the JSU Steel Drum Band perform at the George Link Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse Saturday, July 21. 

The unique sound of the steel drum is widely recognized as the newest acoustic instrument of our time, having started in Trinidad in the 1940s.

McCutchen, professor of percussion at Jacksonville State University, and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia (UGA), has also taught percussion and band at Auburn University and the University of Mississippi. He is the current director of the percussion ensemble and steel band at JSU. His professional experience includes performances with the Fort Worth Symphony, Savannah Symphony, Augusta Symphony, Augusta Opera, Macon Symphony and the National Opera Company. 

McCutchen performs regularly with Prime Time Jazz, Tropical Breeze and the Athens Jazz Trio. During his tenure at UGA, he performed and worked with many artists including John Clayton, Diana Krall, the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Chuck Leavel, Cecil Welch and Otis Redding Jr.

As a bonus, the JSU Steel Drums will also perform a free 60-minute concert for students at 3 p.m. July 21 at the playhouse in downtown Ellijay at 135 North Dalton Street. Parents may also attend, but first priority for theater seats will be for those with student IDs.

 ack Porch Bistro will provide the food for the evening performance. In keeping with the “island night” theme, the menu will feature a jerk chicken kabob and rice pilaf. Preordered meals will be available at 6:30 p.m. with seating at tables. 

So grab your flip-flops, don an island shirt and get ready to party with a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” kind of sound. 

For more information on the afternoon free student concert or the evening ticketed concert, call the playhouse at 706-635-5626, visit GilmerArts.com/playhouse or visit the main office of Gilmer Arts office at 207 Dalton Street from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Times Courier

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1076
Ellijay, GA. 30540

Phone: 706-635-4313
Fax: 706-635-7006