UT Martin House Band plays Tennessee Soybean Festival
Contact 1: Erin Chesnut
MARTIN, Tenn. — Students are often surprised to find their professors having fun outside the classroom, but those who approached the new Oxford Street stage during the Tennessee Soybean Festival on Sept. 9 found several of their teachers playing classic rock under the lights.
Drs. David Coffey, Jim Fieser, David Carithers and Christopher Brown, along with Micah Barnes and Kenneth Robinson, may be members of the University of Tennessee at Martin faculty by day, but by night they masquerade as the UT Martin House Band. This year’s Soybean Festival performance was by far their highest-profile gig to date, but they play several local venues throughout the year, including a few weddings and parties as well as UT Martin events.
“I always wanted to be in a band, and I finally got the opportunity with these guys,” said Coffey, professor and chair of the UT Martin Department of History and one of the original four band members. “Jim Fieser and I started playing together shortly after I arrived here in Martin (in 2001). When David Carithers came along, I started playing and writing songs with him.” Coffey plays guitar and harmonica in the group and provides both lead and backing vocals alongside Carithers, who shares songwriting responsibilities.
The original group – Coffey, Fieser, Carithers and Brown – appeared as the House Band for the first time around 2007 when they performed during the annual UT Martin College of Humanities and Fine Arts picnic. Brown and Fieser are both professors of philosophy, and Brown plays the drums while Fieser contributes his talents on lead guitar to the band’s sound. The group specializes in a blend of Americana, blues and classic rock covers as well as a mixture of original songs.
“Micah and Ken joined us a few years ago and improved our sound thanks to their professional-grade musicianship,” said Carithers, who plays rhythm guitar and is an associate professor and chair of the UT Martin Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages. Barnes, who plays bass guitar, is a staff member in the UT Martin Department of Music, and Robinson is with the staff of WLJT-TV and plays keyboards.
“Micah and Ken have really strengthened our performance abilities and depth of sound and just bring a ton of experience. They can play anything – real troubadours. It’s a great bunch,” said Coffey.
The UT Martin House Band is something of a fixture on the main campus, and while some students love the idea of watching their professors rock out on stage, others just can’t get used to seeing teachers let their hair down. Either way, these six men leave their work lives behind when they pick up their instruments, and audiences through the years have given the results an A+.
PHOTO ID: The UT Martin House Band – made up of (standing, l-r) Drs. David Coffey, David Carithers and Jim Fieser, Micah Barnes, (background) Kenneth Robinson and Dr. Christopher Brown – performed Sept. 9 during the Tennessee Soybean Festival.