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Ebert Brothers to Host WPHS Bluegrass Band

By Staff | Apr 11, 2018

Pictured is one of the Wheeling Park High School Bluegrass Bands which will be performing at the Ebert Brothers Show on April 14 at the Lincoln Theater in New Martinsville. Pictured, from left, are Lilli Gadd, Amelia Cianelli, and Marguerite Demasi. Back row, from left, are Michael Drury, Norman Lee, Kendal Brown, and Jacob McPhail. All members of the band are juniors with the exception of Gadd, who is a sophomore. Photo Provided

Spring is in the air, and so is the sound of bluegrass as the Ebert Brothers Family & Friends have huge plans for the April 14 show. The show will take place 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater.

Headlining the show is The Wheeling Park High School Bluegrass Band.

The program finds its roots in the year of 1993 and was started by Bob Turbanic, a Graphic Design teacher at the high school, along with Kim Mattis, school librarian.

Through the years, Wheeling Park students have opened shows for a variety of bluegrass acts and have performed on main stages at major festivals such as Bean Blossom, Indiana. At this festival, the WPBB won the band competition after competing against all adult bands.

The WPBB has also performed at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, The Festival of Bluegrass, The Pennyroyal Opera House, and the Wheeling Jamboree.

The band has toured Japan, opening for Nashville mandolinist/singer/songwriter Sierra Hull; they have played for the late United States Senator Robert C. Byrd, and they have performed on stage with the Del McCoury Band, among others.

In 1999, the International Bluegrass Music Association was looking for a model that would enable it to bring young people into the bluegrass genre. Tim O’Brian, a Wheeling native and Grammy Award winner, suggested the Wheeling Park Bluegrass Band. O’Brian had just heard the group at WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling and was impressed.

The band performed with Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent at the IBMA Awards Show.

The program is considered to be a model for creating school-based programs in more than 30 states. Most who join the WPBB are not familiar with instruments. After involvement with the band, they become solid performers.

Graduated WPBB members have gone on to study and perform bluegrass at a collegiate level. They have received scholarships from Morehead State University’s Center for Traditional Music, East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass and Country Music Program, Glenville College’s Bluegrass Program, and the Davis and Elkins College Appalachian String Ensemble.

Graduates have also headlined and been members of other bluegrass bands and country groups, as well as teach bluegrass at the collegiate level.

Also performing at the April 14 show is Randy Sloter. Sloter has been playing music for around 20 years; he hails from Marietta, Ohio. Sloter plays music in the parks, at fairs, and for private parties and other events. The Eberts say Sloter is “a great person and a great entertainer!”

The Ebert Brothers Family and Friends spring show will also feature all of the regulars – Dana, Johnny, Alan, Ron, Gary, Pat, Ray, Teresa, Ben Tharp, and Wyatt Kidd.

As always, the Ebert Brothers appreciate sound by Pat Henderson, lighting by Donna Earley, stage manager services by Danny Billiter, and Emcee Carman Harman. Sponsor coordinator for the shows is Delbert Lasure.

Advance tickets are available at Witscheys for $8, or pay $9 at the door of the Lincoln Theater on the night of the event.