Chase the music: Community musicians find local outlets to share their talent
by Benjamin Nunnally
Special to The Star
Feb 23, 2014 | 1614 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Once high school days are behind them, student band members don’t have a lot of opportunities to perform — aside from the few who make a full-time commitment to a career in music. Fortunately, there are several options in Calhoun County where musicians can let their inner band geek keep blowing those horns, banging the drums and singing out loud and proud.

Calhoun County Community Band

The Calhoun County Community Band features two dozen talented members of the community, playing concerts at events like the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Civil War hero Maj. John Pelham’s death, and the Fourth of July concert last year, where they mingled with a 100-voice choir.

“There are a lot of people who have been in band through high school and college with nowhere to play anymore,” said Donnie Machen, president of the Calhoun County Community Band. “It presented a need we thought we could fill.”

The Community Band’s classical instruments, featuring flutes, clarinets and even bassoon, seem to complement historic and grand celebrations.

No audition is required to join, says Machen. Members are allowed to decide for themselves if they can keep up with the performances. Simply arrive at a rehearsal with your instrument of choice to get started. The next scheduled performance is Jacksonville’s “Spring on the Square” on April 12, so there’s plenty of time for new members to prepare.

TO JOIN: Visit the band’s rehearsal space at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville any Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to either play along or sit in and watch. For more info, visit


Community Actor’s Studio Theatre is one of the most popular local theater groups in Northeast Alabama. The troupe performs varied works — previous performances include “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” with a performance of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5: The Musical” coming up on April 24.

“We get to experience working in a tight ensemble toward a common goal,” said Kim Dobbs, CAST’s artistic director. “It’s very rewarding when we reach that common goal.”

CAST has something of a core group that audition regularly, but they’re open to anyone with a passion for acting and singing.

“You’ve just got to be able to pass the audition and be able to make a commitment of time,” said Dobbs.

TO JOIN: While “9 to 5: The Musical” auditions have officially ended, Dobbs says that roles may still be open for acting parts, in the accompanying choir or as backstage support. Call 256-820-2278 or visit for information about current and future plans.

JSU Community Jazz Band

Jacksonville State University has a wide range of options for students to get involved with jazz music, including three ensembles, six smaller jazz combos and a Latin ensemble.

Yes, JSU jazz bands get around. Every Monday at 7 p.m. a jazz combo plays at Java Jolt in Jacksonville, with another one on the first Monday of each month at Cheaha Brewing Company. The top-tier ensemble, Jazz I, performs at jazz music festivals in places like Mobile and Notre Dame University in Indiana.

TO JOIN: Membership is open to any JSU student regardless of major, but potential recruits must pass an audition. Visit or email director Dr. Andy Nevala at for more information.

Calhoun County Civic Chorale

The Calhoun County Civic Chorale is a JSU-sponsored vocal group that operates from Jacksonville under the direction of Dr. Patricia Corbin, JSU’s director of choral activities. The group is gearing up for a performance on April 6 titled “In Praise of Nature and the Divine,” which will feature Benjamin Britten’s 1943 cantata “Rejoice in the Lamb.”

The group is open to the entire community, especially singers “who have voices that can blend well with others” and “enjoy singing classical choral masterworks,” according to an announcement for the spring season. JSU students can participate in the choir for course credit, and new members are always welcomed.

TO JOIN: Membership dues for non-registered students are $30 along with the cost of music. Call the JSU Choral Activities office at 256-782-5544 or email Corbin at to find out more.
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