The KICKS group heads to the lake | Education

It has brightened up the Parkland music scene since its inception in 1978, and now community group KICKS, formerly associated with Mineral Area College and currently associated with Mineral Area Fine Arts Academy, have been invited to perform for the music of the State. educators Friday.

The 19-member Kicks Band will travel to the Missouri Music Educators Association convention at Lake of the Ozarks and will be led by retired North County Band director Dan Schunks.

Schunks is “the last guy in the first band” when it started 44 years ago under the late MAC music teacher Mike O’Brien.

“Originally the bandleaders and the audience were supposed to get together and play, and we didn’t play in public for four or five years,” Schunks said. “It wasn’t until Dixie Kohn became college president (in 1982) that he asked us if we would perform in public. Dixie was a real musician.

“Anyway, I remember Mike asking us and everyone was like, yeah, sure. So we started playing around the early 80s. He was a really big fan of the band. Whenever he needed good PR, he rolled out the KICKS group.

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Members of the KICKS group occasionally pop in and out of the group, but it’s been a well-established group since the very beginning, Schunks said. While most are music teachers – current or retired – there are also many younger members and also businessmen who perform simply because they want to keep a hand in the music business.

He said they all traveled to the convention at their own expense, due to the honor of being chosen by music teachers to perform.

“You have to audition to be invited to play. We recorded our concert at the end of May and it was supposed to be in June. I chose three selections of different styles, then submitted them in a specific order, with the best graphic, the best arrangement and the best performance first, then had a great contrast with a second, then the third turned out to be kind of a rock tune,” Schunks said. “The band really had to play hard, you heard us in full force and it was a tough picture.

“It’s a real honor to have been cast, it’s also a blind audition, so they don’t know it’s us – there’s no identification of the bands auditioning, and no one speaks on the recording. The music speaks for itself.”

Not only that, Schunks said, they’re the last band to play, wrapping up the convention on Friday afternoon.

“The last performance is kind of a jazz concert with bounces, and we’re looking forward to doing a really good job,” he said, adding that another jazz band played before them, Jackson High School.

Even the most seasoned musician might be a little intimidated to perform in front of a group of music teachers, but Schunks said jazz holds a unique place on the music education scene these days.

“Jazz is not well taught. In universities, that’s just not the case,” he said. “And there’s a lot of reasons why, but at the end of the day, most people who are interested in music today, especially instrumental, didn’t get into it like I did because of jazz, they got into it because of the fanfare – because it’s big business now.

Schunks said the program they’ll be playing at the MMEA convention isn’t new music and it’s not quite old, but it’s a traditional jazz program featuring Stan Kenton, Count Basie and a track from the Tonight Show Band when legendary frontman Doc Severinsen conducted it.

“These are really tough charts and I think we could educate some of the educators there,” Schunks said. “Some may be listening with picky ears – ‘oh, I would have played the note that way’ – but I think most of them are going to really appreciate and enjoy what we’re doing. It’s an honor to play for them. »

Schunks said it might seem like he’s bragging about his band, but, he pointed out, the KICKS Band is just one of many exceptional musical entities that call this region home.

“I mean, this neighborhood doesn’t make you think it would be a hotbed of jazz. But you know, the one cultural thing that stands out about this area over time, whether you call it the lead belt or the mineral area or the park, is the music, especially at the MAC, in the schools and in country music. There’s just a crowd of people and the music is ingrained in the culture here.

Schunks mentioned Jeff Watkins, who played saxophone for James Brown, and country singer Ferlin Husky as two of the best-known musicians, but pointed to excellent country singers and bands from the Depression era through the 1960s. 50s, 60s and 70s garage bands, and 80s and 90s clubs.

“I’ve lived here for what, 45 years, and I’m still…it’s just amazing and very, very interesting,” he said.

Sarah Haas is deputy editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or [email protected]

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