Ram Fest popularity: ‘It’s different’

Music festival brings wide range of genres to school gymnasium

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Video – The Bryon Anderson Trio

HAMLET — Justis Peixoto had no idea what to expect.

The blonde-haired Hamlet Middle School sixth-grader, complete with black-rimmed glasses, was directed to the next-to-last row of bleachers inside the school’s gymnasium early Monday morning along with more than 500 of his fellow student body members.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Bryon Anderson of The Bryon Anderson Trio hits just the right note during Ram Fest on Monday at Hamlet Middle School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Bryon Anderson of The Bryon Anderson Trio hits just the right note during Ram Fest on Monday at Hamlet Middle School.

The seventh annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition for the Red Rams students, faculty and staff is a two-day affair that concludes when the dismissal bell rings Tuesday afternoon. Around 10 a.m. Monday, though, Justis found himself listening to some smooth jazz. It’s a music genre with which, he said, he is hardly familiar. Other than Hamlet native John Coltrane, in fact, he couldn’t name a single jazz musician.

Still, the sounds had him swaying back and forth in his seat, perched high above the gym floor and among the farthest from the stage.

“I like the rhythm,” Justis said.

He said listening to jazz was an uncommon practice for him, but “I should start, though.”

Exposure to new experiences is exactly what Principal Jim Butler sand his staff have in mind when they plan the Ram Fest each year. From smooth jazz to swing band, from classical to the African World Band, the idea is to open students’ minds and present them with an opportunity.

“We can’t always take the kids on a bunch of field trips,” Butler said. “This might be the only time kids get to hear smooth jazz.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Performers weren't afraid to leave the stage to capitalize on audience engagement. The strategy worked.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Performers weren’t afraid to leave the stage to capitalize on audience engagement. The strategy worked.

The idea, he said, is to bring those experiences to Hamlet Middle School and tie the program as much as possible into teachers’ planning and curriculum.

“It’s all about exposure,” Butler said.

Some students might be repulsed from certain performers or types of music. Others might be enthralled.

The point, Butler said, is “you don’t know until you try.”

Performances scheduled Monday included the Bryon Anderson Trio smooth jazz, the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus, the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars swing band and New Incentive, the African World Band. On Tuesday, the slate includes the classical Integrity Strings, the Zero Hour Quartet, Bryan Saint and Emerald Empire Band.

Eighth-graders and Ram Fest veterans agreed with Butler that it’s important be taught about all types of music.

“It makes you pay attention,” said Adam Tatum.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus is Adrianna Brown’s favorite. The eighth grade student said that even two years ago, the Army unit’s upbeat tempo stole the show.

“It’s different,” said Caitlyn Daniel. “I like it.”

 

 

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Education, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines

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