Bluegrass show Saturday to help send North Rowan football players to camp
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Tasker Fleming said when he started coaching at North Rowan High School last year, the football program’s bank account totaled 16 cents.
This coming summer, Fleming, the school’s head football coach, would like to send upwards of 40 of his players to camp. But doing so costs money.
Fleming said the cheapest one-week football camp he’s found is at Elon University, where the price tag is $200 per player. Most colleges, Fleming said, charge $325 or more for such camps.
He said many of his players come from single-parent homes and coming up with $200 is a difficult undertaking. The school and members of the coaching staff help as best they can with finances, but there are limits to how far anyone can go on a coach’s salary.
So Fleming is staging a fundraiser Saturday at North Rowan with proceeds going to help send football players to camp. The fundraiser consists of concerts featuring two North Carolina bands.
The Grass Cats is the featured attraction and Second Chance will also be performing. Fleming described The Grass Cats as a bluegrass band while Second Chance specializes in gospel.
The Grass Cats, he said, are especially well known across the state.
“They do a lot of harmony,” he said. “They’re very popular.”
The group’s lead singer is Russell Johnson, who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the same time Fleming was in school there. Fleming ó who plays the guitar and banjo in addition to being one heck of a football coach ó used to sit in with Johnson and others on occasional jam sessions while they were all in college.
“If someone wanted to show off a new lick, they would,” Fleming said, temporarily foregoing football-speak for musician-speak. “Over the years, I’ve kept up with how Russell has done.”
Saturday’s concerts start at 7 p.m. and will be held in North Rowan’s auditorium. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased at Escape the Daily Grind on Salisbury Avenue in downtown Spencer or in the office at North Rowan.
At the door the night of the concert, tickets will be $12. Graduates of North Rowan, as well as Rowan County employees and Catawba College students get 20 percent off the price of admission.
Fleming said he’d never before planned a concert, and said doing so has turned out to be more of a job than he realized.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “A lot of legwork.”
Fleming said the auditorium at North Rowan will hold 1,000 people. He said he needs to sell a minimum of 200 tickets to break even on the concert. If 600 people turn out for the show, camp for every football player at North will be financed.
If between 200 and 600 attend, well, it’ll be a step toward giving a lot of young football players a chance to improve their skills.
Fleming admitted Tuesday he was a tad nervous about turnout for the event. Asked if he might have gone out on a limb, he laughed, then replied, “It’s a big limb.”
Salisbury Printing Co. has supplied posters for the event free of charge. Fleming said pastors at local churches also announced plans for the event Sunday.
He said he thinks The Grass Cats and Second Chance will put on the type of show that should appeal to a number of people.
“I’m not sure what to expect as far as turnout is concerned, but I’m sure it’ll be a good night of entertainment,” Fleming said. “Anything we make will help the kids.”
Fleming said he grew up in Warrenton, a small town north of Raleigh where his father purchased the old downtown theater and staged a number of bluegrass shows. Bill Monroe, one of the most famous of all bluegrass performers, was one of the acts his father booked.
“There are people who like bluegrass and people, like my wife, who can’t stand it,” Fleming said. “I’m hoping we have some bluegrass lovers around here.”
For more information, contact Fleming at 704-213-9874.