The Zinc Kings join JM musicians in the 'Coolest Band Concert Ever'
What could possibly make a high school band concert the “coolest ever?” Maybe a combination of great music, special guest performers and the chance to say goodbye to one of the school’s most accomplished teachers.
The Zinc Kings, featuring Jordan-Matthews High School band director Mark Dillon, will join student musicians for an evening of music billed as "The Coolest High School Band Concert Ever (AKA: Dillon's Last Stand)." Scheduled for May 28 at 7 p.m., the concert is free, though donations will be accepted to benefit JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation.
Dillon is leaving Jordan-Matthews this summer to enter the doctoral program in ethnomusicology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and his colleagues and students are determined to send him off in style.
“Mark has had a positive impact on hundreds of young people during his years at JM,” said Rose Pate, the school's media specialist who also is president of JMArts. “We want the whole community to have a chance not only to hear his students perform, but to have a chance to see him perform as well.”
The Zinc Kings specialize in music of the North Carolina Piedmont. Dillon describes the genre as "a combination of blues, mill music and fiddle tunes — sometimes all at the same time!" The group was featured this winter at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Toronto and appears regularly at regional music festivals, including Fiddler’s Grove and Asheville's Bele Chere Festival.
The band features Dillon on banjo and guitar, Christen Blanton-Mack on mandolin and fiddle, and Dan Clouse on banjo, guitar and washboard. The trio is often joined by Ryan Mack on bass and Doug Baker on mandolin, and appears frequently in the Greensboro area. Their recent albums include their self-titled album, "The Zinc Kings," in 2011 and "Piedmont," scheduled for release later this year.
Students from the Jordan-Matthews jazz band, concert band, music technology class and percussion ensemble will begin the "coolest band concert ever," and some students will join the Zinc Kings on stage during the second part of the program.
“We’ve had kids this semester working on banjo, violin, ukulele and upright bass, as well as classic band instruments,” said Dillon. “I’ve tried hard to give students a sense of the broad spectrum of styles and forms that make up American music.”
Pate said she appreciates The Zinc Kings coming to help honor their band member and one of Jordan-Matthews' beloved teachers in his final performance on the high school stage.
“We hope everyone in the area who’s been in our instrumental music program for the last five years can come back and enjoy an evening of great music as we wish Mark well in his next adventure," she said.
While admission is free, the concert will also be a benefit for JMArts, with a suggested donation of $5 or more accepted at the door.
The foundation raises money for arts education at Jordan-Matthews. In the last year, donations have purchased art supplies, provided costumes and sets for the spring musical production of "Brigadoon," sent theater and music students to a professional production and provided scholarships for nine musicians and artists to attend weeklong, university arts experiences this summer.
For more information about JMArts, including details about recent scholarship awards, visit jmarts.org.