Memorial Concert for Dr. Kelly Thomas (recent UT Professor of Tuba/Euphonium) scheduled for Sept. 27 in Knoxville

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass (SSSB) will be presenting a Memorial Concert on Sept. 27 to honor the memory of Dr. Kelly Thomas, who died in June of a wasp sting. Dr. Thomas was only 40-years-old, and left a wife and 4 children who reside in Niota, TN.

Kelly was the professor of Tuba/Euphonium at the University of Tennessee, a position which he had held for one year. He also was the principal euphonium musician with the SSSB and the ensemble’s musicians are donating their talents to perform this concert to honor one of their own.

Professor Kelly Thomas, euphonium

Professor Kelly Thomas, euphonium

The concert will be held at the Cornerstone Church, located at 1250 Heritage Lake Blvd in Knoxville. The concert will be at 3:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 27.  Admission is free and an offering will be available to support the Thomas Family Fund.

Dwight Wages is the President and founder of the SSSB and had this to say, “Kelly had only performed a couple of concerts with us, but he made a great impression on his fellow musicians in a short period of time. He was a terrific musician and what really impressed me was what a great father he was to his children. It is also obvious that he was a great mentor to his student musicians.”

The concert program was selected to represent music enjoyed by his family, sacred music, euphonium/tuba feature selections, and inspirational music. The program includes:

  • “Summon the Heroes”

  • “Be Thou My Vision”

  • “Melody Shop march”

  • “If We Hold On Together”

  • “Bugler’s Holiday”

  • “Amazing Grace” (previous two selections will be presented by the Tenn. Tech. Univ. tuba/euphonium octet),

  • “Pantomime” -euphonium solo

  • “Make His Praise Glorious”

  • Holst’s “1st Suite in Eb” (mvt. 1)

  • “Closer Walk with Thee”

  • “Walking with Heroes”

  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Guest vocalist, Brenda Frye is an operatic soprano, and she will be singing “If We Hold On Together” and “You”ll Never Walk Alone.”

Thomas family portrait

Thomas family portrait

This is a great opportunity to hear an inspirational Memorial Concert honoring Kelly Thomas who was an outstanding individual and left this world too soon.

Even if you did not know Dr. Thomas, this is an chance to hear a really outstanding musical ensemble that is the only professional brass band of this kind in this area and adjoining states, and is building a reputation for their “Premium Entertainment.”

Contact Dwight Wages at 931-484-6939 for additional information about this event, or about the Southern Stars Brass Band in general.

Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band Announce 2015-16 Crossville Concert Series

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band, a 30-piece professional brass ensemble directed by Dr. Steven Sudduth, has announced their 2015-16 Season

All concerts are in the Stone Memorial High School auditorium, a beautiful 1200-seat facility. Ticket price for Adults is $22 each for the first two concerts and $25 for the final concert. Student tickets are $5. Season tickets for the three-concert Crossville series is a bargain at $50. Season ticket holders sit in a reserved section and can exchange tickets for a different concert if they need to miss a concert.

Purchase Southern Stars season tickets by Wednesday, Sept. 9, and receive an invitation to attend a reception on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3:00 pm at the Fairfield Glade Community Church.

In addition to more details about the concerts, light refreshments will be served including a drawing for FREE season tickets, FREE individual concert tickets, back-stage passes to meet the guest artists, and more.

The first concert of the season has the theme, ALL IN THE FAMILY. This concert takes place on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3:00 pm featuring SSSB musician soloists, including highly-talented off-spring of some of the band’s members.

Featured are a father/son cornet duet, cornet solo, vocal solo (daughter of a musician), and a tuba soloist.

In addition, the band will separately play a variety of music styles in addition to accompanying the soloists.

The second concert in the series is themed CASTLES, HIGHLANDS AND MOORS, and takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3:00 pm.

This second concert will feature music of Ireland, Scotland, England and connections to North America. A vocal guest artist (a future announcement) will be performing as well.

The third and final concert in the Crossville Series will feature a return of BUDDY GREENE & FRIENDS on Saturday, April 16 at 7:00 pm.

Greene is a frequent guest on the Bill Gaither Gospel shows and travels internationally as an entertainer. In addition to playing a couple of selections with the SSSB, Buddy Greene and his Nashville musician sidemen, will give a 30-minute separate concert as part of this great evening of music.

Tickets can be purchased through the Cumberland County Playhouse’s ticketing system online at: or by call the Playhouse box office at 931-484-5000.

Tickets are also available at the brass band’s corporate, season sponsors: Bed & Biscuit Kennel, Farm Bureau Insurance (Gordon Atchley), Cumberland Eye Care (Dr. Stuart Galloway), and State Farm Insurance (David Bell).

Questions? Contact the Southern Stars Brass Founder and President, Dwight Wages, at 931-484-6939.

Southern Stars to present “Walking with Heroes” concert, Saturday, April 18

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass (SSSB) will present their last concert for this season on Saturday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in the beautiful 1,200 seat auditorium at Stone Memorial High School. The concert title, “Walking with Heroes,” is to remember great people living and passed such as teachers, family members, friends, leaders and celebrities who have touched our lives.  Their influence stays with us wherever we are, thus we are always “Walking with Heroes.”

This concert is sponsored by Bed & Biscuit Kennel (season sponsor) and the State Farm Insurance – David Bell agency and Gernt Insurance – Art Gernt agency (concert co-sponsors).

The SSSB is a 30-piece professional brass ensemble of top musicians from Eastern and Middle Tennessee that comprises 27 brass musicians and three to four percussionists. The conductor is Dr. Steven Sudduth, director of bands at the University of the Cumberlands. The musicians include university music department professors, secondary instrumental music educators and exception musicians from other careers who are also highly skilled instrumentalists.

This is the brass band’s seventh full season of presenting a three-concert music series in Crossville. They are highly recommended by those who have attended their concerts, and a attendees can expect a wonderful night of musical entertainment.

The April 18 concert program includes: “Walking with Heroes” – an inspirational, championship-level composition; “Hymn for Diana” – music inspired by the tragic death of Princess Diana; “William Tell Overture” – which contains the familiar “Lone Ranger” theme music for the masked man hero; “You Raise Me Up” – Josh Grogan’s hit about inspiration; “April in Paris” – flugelhorn solo by Chris McCormick; “Firebird Suite” excerpts –  where the mystical Firebird rises like a phoenix to glory.
Other selections include marches such as “Valdres” and “Punchinello,” “Drink to Me (Only)” – Eb soprano cornet soloist, Stephen Collins, “La Danza,” and “Hornpipe Humouresque” – a tribute to sailors who sailed the seven seas.

Tickets for this concert are $20 for adults, and $5 for children. Tickets can be obtained at the following locations: Cumberland Eye Care Center (Drs. Galloway and Holt) in Fairfield Glade, First National Bank of Tennessee locations in Crossville and Fairfield Glade, Bed & Biscuit Kennel off of Peavine, and at the Cumberland County Playhouse box office by calling 931-484-5000, and the Playhouse’s website.  Shake off the winter blues and come hear the Southern Stars provide heroic music to send you home inspired.

SSSB Performs in Knoxville this Saturday, March 21

The Southeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference will be the hosted by Dr. Kelly Thomas and the University of Tennessee School of Music March 19-21, 2015, and the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band is slated to perform.

The conference will feature artists and ensembles from throughout the region. In addition, the conference will be featuring a unique competition format, administered by David Zerkel (Professor of Tuba/Euphonium, University of Georgia).

Click here for a schedule of events in PDF format

Other ensembles slated to appear at the conference include:

4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra
Midtown Brass Quintet
New Acoustic Metal Experiment
University of North Carolina Greensboro Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
Ohio University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
Henderson State University Tuba Choir
North Florida Tuba-Euphonium Explosion
Valdosta State University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
East Tennessee State University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
University of South Carolina Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
University of Tennessee Faculty Brass Quintet
Tennessee Technological University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
University of West Georgia Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
University of North Carolina Pembroke Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
Charlotte Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

Feb. 8 concert features guests vocalist Brenda Frye, and the Tennessee Tech Trumpet Sextet

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass perform Sunday, Feb. 8 at 3 pm at Stone Memorial HS in Crossville. The theme is “Curtain Up!” and will feature music of Broadway, TV, and the movies.

Guest vocalist is Brenda Frye, a terrific soprano, who will sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Softly, As I Leave You.” Other special guests for this concert are the Tennessee Technological University Trumpet Sextet, who will perform the “Overture to Candide.”

Special soloists for this concert include and a xylophone solo by Kelly Jo Birmingham on the piece, “Xylophonia.” The rest of the program will be drawn from the following: Strike Up the Band, Fanfare & Flying Theme (from “E.T.”), Liberty Bell March, Disney Fantasy, Overture to the John Wayne class movie the “Cowboys,” Cartoon Classics, St. Louis Blues, and John Williams in Concert.

Southern Stars Donates to Community

A recent Christmas concert on Nov. 23 presented by the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass (SSSB) was a resounding success with an audience of nearly 1100 attending this free admission concert.

The concert was sponsored by Bed & Biscuit Kennel (Season sponsor), and Concert sponsors – the City of Crossville, Happy Hound Realty, and Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

The program of Christmas and holiday selections was enthusiatiscally received by the audience. Local soprano vocalist Brenda Frye was the featured performer along with several instrumental soloists from among the talented musicians of the SSSB.

This concert is a bi-annual event given by the Southern Stars as their way of thanking the Cumberland County area businesses sponsors and their concert audiences for the financial support that has allowed them to become a cultural mainstay for Crossville for the past seven seasons.

At each Christmas concert, the SSSB selects various non-profit organizations to receive donations from a free-will offering taken from the audience in attendance.

The receipients this year were the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (CCCCC), and Stone Memorial High project to improve their sound system in the auditorium.

As a result of the generosity of the Southern Stars musicians and the large audience, the SSSB presented $914.61 to the CCCCC, and $900 to Stone Memorial High School’s auditorium sound system project.

SSSB President, Dwight Wages, had the following to say about the donations made possible by their Christmas concert.

“When I founded this ensemble in 2008, there were many in the music entertainment arena who were skeptical that a large 30 musician group like the SSSB could survive financially by charging for tickets to hear the group.”

“Our existence for seven years is proof of the high quality of our concert performances and that local residents have recognized that our premium entertainment is something that justifies their support as well as the businesses that have continued to sign on as sponsors,” Wages added.

“Because of this support, the SSSB sees the bi-annual Christmas concert as our way to thank our sponsors and the greater Crossville area for their support and at the same time meet the dual purpose of providing a free admission concert for the general public and donate much needed funding for local non-profit organizations,” Wages said.

Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County is in its 12th year, providing a full range of affordable, professional counseling services from a Christian perspective to children, teens, adults, and couples.

Clients pay only what they can afford based on their family’s income. Though our counselors all work from a Christian perspective, clients do not have to be of any particular faith, or have a faith at all, to be served.

Offices are located in the United Fund Building in Crossville; satellite offices are located in Sparta and Fairfield Glade. Their Executive Director Carol J. Donalson, LPC-MHSP, is available to speak at local churches and civic organizations on Christian Counseling Center’s services and mental health and relationship topics.

For referrals or questions, the Christian Counseling Center can be contacted at 931-707-8200. For more information, also see the website at

The project at Stone Memorial High School is being coordinated by Ned Serleth (Theater instructor) and volunteer to the Drama department (Susan Jay).

The projected needs to make improvements to the sound system and stage area is projected to cost $8300.

This includes the purchase of special microphones to allow audiences to hear better the drama musicals/plays and vocal/instrumental performances, improved acoustic hookup locations in the stage area, and removal of auditorium entrance doorway restrictions which prevent musical equipment being able to be moved on and off the stage.

If you would like to contribute to this project at SMHS, contact Susan Jay at 585-455-1671.

Euphonium virtuoso Brandon Jones returns!

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band kick off their seventh season with a salute to our Armed Services on Sunday, Sept. 28, at Stone Memorial High School Auditorium.

The band is excited to welcome back Technical Sergeant Brandon Jones, an alum of the band who is now a solo euphoniumist with The United States Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.

Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones will perform two solos with the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass

For tickets:
Tickets are available starting Monday, August 18 at our normal outlets; Cumberland Eye Care, First National Band of TN branches in Crossville and FFG, Bed & Biscuit Kennel, and at the Cumberland County Playhouse.

Questions, contact:

Dwight Wages
President, Founder, and Artistic Director

Young trumpet phenom Geoff Gallante performs May 17 with the SSSB

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass (SSSB) present their last concert of the 2013-2014 season on Saturday, May 17 at 7 pm at the beautiful 1200-seat Stone Memorial HS auditorium. The concert theme is Classics & Jazz and will include a wide variety of music styles. Business sponsors for the concert are: Bed & Biscuit Kennel (Season sponsor), State Farm Insurance (David Bell, agent), Caring Touch Therapeutic Massage, and Guest Artist sponsors – Flynn Sign Company, and the City of Crossville.

Geoff GallanteSpecial guest artist for this concert will be a 13-year-old trumpet phenom, Geoff Gallante, who hails from Washington, D.C., and has developed a national recognition for his highly advanced technical and musical skills. Geoff has already performed on the Jay Leno show, CBS and NBC national morning news programs, at the White House (and is still the youngest entertainer to perform there), the Lincoln Center, and with military bands and concert bands in 43 states. Geoff has many YouTube videos you can watch showing him performing a variety of styles from sacred, classical, popular, and jazz.

For this concert, Geoff with be playing four selections with the SSSB in accompaniment: “La Virgin de la Macarena,” a fiery Latin piece, “The Debutante,” a classic trumpet selection, “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans,” a cornet trio, and “Our Love is Here to Stay,” a flugelhorn jazz improvisation solo. Trumpet fans in particular will surely want to come hear Geoff, as he as been compared to a young Doc Severinsen or Wynton Marsalis, and will be a certain entertainment star of the future. His technical skills are unique, but it is his improvisation techique that will also amaze with its maturity beyond his years.

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band is a 30-musician ensemble of 27 brass musicians and three percussionists under the direction of Dr. Steven Sudduth, Director of Bands at Cumberland University in Williamsburg, KY. The musicians are top players from the areas of Nashville, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Cookeville and Crossville. They perform a wide variety of music at each concert and to follow the theme of Classic and Jazz, they will be playing the following pieces: “Entry of the Gladiators,” “American Patrol,” “Pittsburgh Overture,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” a euphonium solo, the “Typewriter,” “A Russian Fantasy,” “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, “1st Suite for Band” by Holst, and “Saints Go Marching In.”

Dwight Wages, founder and Artistic Director of the Southern Stars, says, “Our final concert of the season has for the past three years brought in national talent as our guest artists. We had Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor in 2012, and Pete Huttlinger in 2013—recording artists from Nashville—and now Geoff Gallante, who also has 2 CDs to his credit.”

“While it is a significant expense to provide artists of their stature, we do this with expectations that we will receive larger audiences who appreciate the risk we have taken to bring such unique performers to the Crossville area,” Wages says. “It is my sincere hope that people who may not have heard the Southern Stars before, take this opportunity to hear this outstanding group and to see young Geoff Gallante in action.”

Tickets for the concert are priced at $20 for Adults, and $5 for Students. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Cumberland Eye Care (Dr. Galloway) in Fairfield Glade, First National Bank of TN branches in Fairfield Glade and Crossville, Cumberland County Playhouse box office and website, and Bed & Biscuit Kennel (off Peavine Road). Group tickets of 10 or more can be purchased for $17 ($3 discount) only from Dwight Wages by calling 931-484-6939.

Preview of the SSSB DVD, available for order

Video below is of the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band, featuring a Euphonium duet with Brandon Jones and Layne Todd on Herbert L. Clarke’s “Cousins.”

This DVD was professionally recorded at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the campus of Maryville College in Maryville, TN. For information on ordering the DVD, contact Dwight Wages.

Young trumpet phenom Geoff Gallante to appear with SSSB as guest artist on May 17

The Southern Stars Symphonic Brass’ final concert of the Crossville Concert Series will feature one of the rising stars in the trumpet world, 13-year-old Geoff Gallante, from Washington. D.C. as their guest artist. This concert will take place on Saturday, May 17 at 7pm in Crossville, TN at the Stone Memorial HS Auditorium located at 2800 Cook Road (near exit 320 of Interstate 40).

For this concert Geoff will be performing four selections with the Southern Stars: La Virgin de la Macarena – a flashy solo made famous by the likes of trumpet icons Doc Severinsen and Vinnie Dimartino; Herbert Clarke’s technically difficult solo – Debutante; he will play fluglehorn on a jazz rendition of Our Love Is Here to Stay; and finally he will join two members of the SSSB for a cornet trio version of Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.

The remainder of the concert program will be released at a later date, however, be certain it will contain a variety of music styles for a most enjoyable concert of “Premium Entertainment” for which the SSSB is known. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a virtuoso talent, who you will be able to look back on as “I was there” and heard this star in person!

Since first finding his older brother’s trumpet at age 4, Geoff has performed in distinguished venues and along side distinguished artists all across the country—not just as a concert band soloist but also as soloist with brass band, orchestra, as a featured jazz soloist, as national anthem performer and as church soloist.

Geoff has performed in 34 states nationwide—including 5 different ensembles of the U.S. Military. By the age of 6 he had already garnered guest soloist engagements with the likes of the The LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA and DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA and PHILADELPHIA BRASS, one the the finest brass quintets in the land.

As anthem performer Geoff has appeared in 16 pro-sports venues across the country, including seven Major League Baseball stadiums, eight NBA arenas and one NHL arena. He’s the youngest instrumentalist , at 6-years-old, to ever perform at the White House and the Kennedy Center in D.C. Geoff’s network TV appearances include THE TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno, NBC’s TODAY show and the CBS EARLY SHOW.

In the jazz realm, Geoff is comfortable playing all styles, from traditional New Orleans style to small group straight-ahead jazz to classic big band and swing. As a ‘traditional’ jazz player he’s a member of the D.C. based award-winning CAPITOL FOCUS JAZZ BAND and as a big band trumpeter he plays in the BLUES ALLEY YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA.

As a contemporary, straight-ahead jazz performer, Geoff has shared the stage with such jazz icons as Maynard Ferguson, Dick Hyman and Bucky Pizzarelli, as well as a host of other distinguished jazz musicians including Grammy Award winners Earl Klugh, Kevin Mahogany, Chris Botti, and Christian McBride.

Geoff has performed in such prominent jazz venues as ANDY’S (chicago), BLUES ALLEY (D.C.), METROPOLITAN ROOM (NYC) and IRIDIUM (NYC), SCULLERS (Boston), Shanghai Jazz (NJ) and was a feature performer on the 2012 edition of ‘Jazz Fest at Sea ‘ cruise event.

In addition to solo engagements with professional orchestras in KY, MA, IL, IN & NJ, Geoff has soloed with some of America’s very finest symphonic bands, most notably, U.S. Naval Academy Concert Band, Ridgewood (NJ) Concert Band, Allentown (PA) Band, Wheaton (IL) Municipal Band, Compton Heights (St. Louis) Concert Band, Ames (IA) Municipal Band, Plano (TX) Community Band, Naples (Fla.) Concert Band, Fond Du Lac (WI) Symphonic Band, Northwinds Symphonic Band (GA) and Metropolitan (Boston) Wind Symphony. In 2012, Geoff was accorded the honor, at age 11, as guest soloist at the annual convention of the Association of Concert Bands in Poughkeepsie, NY.