Carolina Crown/Mile High Orchestra Interview
On Friday, June 1st, Carolina Crown will be previewing their 2007 program, “Triple Crown”, at the Hickory Grove Baptist Church – North Campus Worship Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Following Crown’s performance will be the main event of the evening, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. I recently had an opportunity to interview Denver Bierman, leader of the Mile High Orchestra.
A little background on Denver Bierman (from the DMHO website):
Denver points to the One who deserves all praise. Denver Bierman grew up in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana. Since his whole family played instruments and sang, it made perfect sense that Denver would get into music as well. From the minute he picked up the trumpet in 6 th grade, he enjoyed playing. Denver wrote and recorded his first song “Just Believe” in a woodshed on 12-B county road outside Plymouth, IN – his hometown. He entered the song into a state-wide contest, and it made the top 10 best original songs by high school students in the state in 1995. That’s when he decided that writing and singing his own music was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
How did the Mile High Orchestra come about?
Denver Bierman: The band had come together with friends of mine through the Jazz Band at Belmont University (Nashville, TN). I had put this group together for a showcase at college, and then, we won this particular showcase, and were invited to perform at the Ryman Auditorium, and from there…it hasn’t slowed down since.
Are there other Christian Big Band groups?
DB: No, we are the only one that has the true big band sound.
What is a typical year of touring like? Do you spend a lot of time on the road?
DB: We normally do around 100 shows per year. This translates to being on the road anywhere from 100 – 115 days a year. We do not spend time away from home when we’re not working. We always strive to get home to our families. The longest trip we’ll do is about 2 weeks at a time, and we only do those about 2 times a year or so. Most of the time, we’re home each week, and will do only a few shows a week….but that adds up very quickly.
Do you have any favorite tour stops?
DB: Anywhere in Colorado and Southern California (because I know I’ll get to go to Disney while I’m there)
Do you have any favorite activities while on tour outside of performing?
DB: Playing Basketball and visiting Disney while in CA or in FL, also just hanging out with the guys…playing Frisbee is a pastime of the band as well…
How did the concert with Carolina Crown come about?
DB: Carolina Crown and DMHO do have a lot in common, although very different. CC inquired about partnering together with DMHO, and through much time and planning, it has finally happened.
Do any of your members have drum corps experience?
DB: Yes, two of my guys, Justin Carpenter and Scott Steward have extensive drum corps experience. They have worked with the best groups in the country. I am very blessed to have them a part of my group.
What are Justin’s and Scott’s drum corps backgrounds?
DB: Justin was a member of the Cavaliers in 2004. Scott marched with the Blue Devils in 1993 and 1995, as well as the Freelancers.
Greg Lowe mentioned how he discovered MHO on XM Radio. What was your reaction when you first heard your music on the radio?
DB: Our music is on the radio? I was 18 years old, and had recorded a demo at the college I was attending in Nashville. While at home visiting my parents in Indiana, we were on the way to church on Sunday morning and my song was played on the radio…I was screaming and shouting…it was simply an amazing experience for me!”
Who are your favorites in this season’s American Idol competition?
DB: Melinda Doolittle…she’s my only favorite. She went to Belmont University with us all, and is great friends of the band. She actually used to open for us and sing a few songs with our band. Recently, she has recorded on both of our long form broadcast special and Live DVD, as well as, sang on some of our albums. She is a very dear friend of ours, so to say the least; she is my favorite this season! (Editor’s Note – This was asked and answered prior to Melinda’s elimination from American Idol.)
I was also able to interview Greg Lowe and Kevin Smith. Greg is the System Administrator for CrownTICKETS. Kevin is the Executive Director of the Carolina Crown drum and bugle corps.
Has Crown done pre-season concerts in the past?
Kevin Smith: Yes, although not in conjunction with another group. We have done pre-season concerts in our home town of Ft. Mill, SC many times over the years and plan to continue doing so whenever the schedule and logistics allow.
How did Crown learn about the MHO?
Greg Lowe: This is a good story. I am a big fan of XM radio as well as Christian music. One day, while listening, I heard DMHO on XM 32. I was immediately hooked. Their music was high-energy, fun, loud and full of spirit. I went to their website and got their booking information. I knew at some point, we (CrownEVENTS committee) would love to produce a concert event featuring these guys. My hopes for a Christian concert event were affirmed when I met Corey Gaston. Corey is a worship leader at Hickory Grove Baptist Church – North Campus, here in Charlotte, and a former member of Crown. After some careful planning, the partnership between Crown, DMHO and HGBC is going to produce a truly world-class event.
Is this format of premiering the corps combined with a concert something the corps hopes to do in the future?
KS: Yes, we think partnering with other groups/organizations is a great thing. It allows the opportunity for more people to become familiar with both groups/organizations.
What should fans expect from this concert?
KS: Carolina Crown expects to perform all the music from our 2007 production, “Triple Crown”, as well as several pieces that we will be using for concerts and show encores throughout the summer. It should be an excellent opportunity to hear this great music performed in a concert setting!
What other performing groups do you see Crown partnering with in the future? What’s your “dream” concert?
KS: Certainly high school and college bands/ensembles would be the best scenario as a way for Carolina Crown to further enhance our Partnership in Education initiative. Of course, other professional groups similar to DMHO could also make interesting partners.
Can you give us any details about the 2007 production, “Triple Crown”?
KS: Our 2007 production, “Triple Crown” will include the following music: Theme from Dreamer (John Debney); The Trap (James Newton Howard); Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones); The Red Pony: Happy Ending (Aaron Copland); Manny’s Story (John Debney); William Tell Overture (Gioacchino Rossini); and Last Race (John Debney).
Where did the inspiration for “Triple Crown” come from?
KS: “Triple Crown” has been in the design team’s “stable” of possible shows for several years. The chance to combine great music with interesting visual concepts finally brought the production to the top of the list.
Any hints regarding the new uniform for 2007?
KS: The corps’ new uniform will continue to maintain the core cream color that Carolina Crown has become to be known for over the past few years. The accessory items and colors will relate a little more to the production being performed this year.
What does the 2007 look like for Crown, especially with DCI championships in California?
KS: Everything points to a tremendous year for Carolina Crown in 2007. We are very excited about making our first-ever trip to California.
What is the general feeling the members and staff have regarding 2007?
KS: Everyone is very excited about 2007 and we are expecting the best for Carolina Crown.
What other exciting events does Crown have planned for 2007?
KS: Carolina Crown is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of our well known NightBEAT event in 2007. NightBEAT is the showcase event of Carolina Crown and is a favorite of fans was well as the corps on the DCI tour. Although the show is a little earlier than normal due to the tour going to California, all indications are that everyone is excited about attending what is sure to be the last big drum corps show in the east before Finals.
Any special plans for NightBEAT’s 20th anniverary?
GL: We are in the process of planning for our 20th edition of NightBEAT. We are looking at adding additional performances from other “non drum corps” groups. We are also looking into recognizing our CrownEVENTS volunteers that have contributed to the success of NightBEAT over the past 20 years.
CrownEVENTS has become a major promoter for various drum corps and marching band events throughout the country. What does CrownEVENTS offer an event which looks to partner with you?
GL: CrownEVENTS will continue to produce events that strengthen the core values of Carolina Crown and our Partnerships in Education. CrownEVENTS brings a team with 20 years of experience in producing the finest drum and bugle corps events in the country. We will continue to provide diverse, quality events to our customers that both strengthen the brand and provide needed revenue for Carolina Crown.
More information about the Carolina Crown/Mile High Orchestra concert can be found on the CrownEVENTS website by clicking here.
About Denver and the Mile High Orchestra:
Formed by a group of friends at Nashville’s Belmont University in 1999, this exceptional group of musicians is comprised of three trumpet players, three saxophone players, two trombone players and a rhythm section. In the five years since their inception, the group has traveled around the globe, performing at churches, conferences, festivals—even at the Olympics—taking their electrifying horn-driven sound to the masses. The big band sound of the 30’s and 40’s had long intrigued Denver, who had played the trumpet for 16 years , so he assembled a group of musicians—friends to reinvent the style for the modern age. “I grew up listening to hip-hop, rock and pop, to all those genres,” says Denver, who is also the group’s lead vocalist and music arranger. “So I wanted to take the best of today and the best of yesterday and mix ‘em up.”
“In an age when new bands come and go with the wind,” bandleader Denver Bierman says, “the only way you can explain that a Christian ‘big band’ is still going strong after five years is that God must be up to something. So our job is just to keep moving forward and make sure He gets all the glory.”
More information about the Mile High Orchestra can be found on the DMHO website by clicking here.
About Carolina Crown:
Carolina Crown is a non-profit youth organization committed to "Developing lifelong excellence in young people through a superior and challenging performing arts education experience." Although involved in numerous other youth/arts related activities, the drum and bugle corps is the largest program offering of Carolina Crown, Inc. To see a list of the different offerings visit the Carolina Crown website by clicking here.