Music takes Richey around the country
Franklin County has seen its fair share of talent come through the area and Russellville High School senior Alex Richey has been establishing himself as a standout musician in national venues in recent weeks.
Richey, who has a resume many seasoned musicians would be envious of, was recently selected as one of only 125 high school musicians in the entire country to be part of the U.S. Army All-American Band – a group that was featured at the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“I first found out about the U.S. Army All-American Band through YouTube that directed me to a website that told me how to audition,” Richey said. “I had to submit three different videos: one of just myself playing the drums with music they had selected, one of me playing music with other people, and one of me telling them why I wanted to be an All-American.”
Richey said he got his three videos submitted this past April and didn’t find out until Aug. 15 that he had been selected for the honor.
“I actually found out the first day back to school this past year that I’d made it,” Richey said. “I was in band and [Director of Bands] Mr. [Gary] McNutt called everyone into the band room and I thought he was going to say something about me being in the Music City Drum Corps this past summer but instead he made the announcement that I had made All-American.
“They had sent him and me both an e-mail to let me know but he saw his first and it was definitely better to find out that way than to just read the e-mail myself. Everyone was congratulating me and it was a great feeling.”
In October, officials with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl made a press stop in Russellville to officially bestow Richey with the honor.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that where the attention was all on me for something I had done on my own,” he said.
On Jan. 2, Richey prepared to fly out of Huntsville to Atlanta and eventually to San Antonio, Texas, where he would meet up with the other 124 high school musicians who had also made the cut.
But getting to Texas proved to be easier said than done as his flight was delayed twice, cancelled twice and rerouted before he finally made it to his destination.
“I never thought it would be that hard to get out there,” Richey said. “And even after I got there eight hours past when I was supposed to, my luggage ended up in Minnesota. I had to practice the next day in green, blue and white socks and my Sperrys that I had worn on the plane the day before. It was crazy.”
Richey’s luggage finally made its way back from Minnesota and he was able to get down to business.
“We had a couple of full days of practice and a few half days of practice to prepare for the half-time show,” he said. “We also did some other things in the evenings like going to the Riverwalk and the Alamo.”
Richey was also part of the U.S. Army Welcome BBQ that took place inside the Alamodome on Jan. 5 where Phil Campbell band director Bobby Patrick was named the 2012 National Band Director of the Year.
“That was pretty neat to see someone from my county win that award,” Richey said. “I actually helped Phil Campbell’s band with their band camp this past summer and I was happy for Mr. Patrick.”
Richey said the actual half-time performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was something he would never forget. McNutt as well as Richey’s parents, Ben and Missy Richey, and his sister, Liza, all came to watch him in his once-in-a-lifetime performance.
“Performing at that game was really surreal,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cliché, but it really was life-changing.
“For once, I wasn’t really representing another organization like when you perform at competitions or when I performed with Music City. I really felt like I was representing the whole nation since I had been selected as one of the best in the country. Knowing that when I took the field made it one of the coolest performing moments I’ve ever had.”
Besides the performance, Richey also made friends with people from across the country and made memories he said he’ll never forget.
“Being chosen for the U.S. Army All-American Band was such a great accomplishment and an honor and I’m glad to have been a part of it,” he said.
As if that experience wasn’t enough to send any 18-year-old over the top, one week later, Richey was back in Texas – this time in Dallas – auditioning for something that has been a dream of his for quite some time: a chance to be a member of the Madison Scouts, which is a prestigious drum corps organization based in Madison, Wisc.
“I had a great time this past summer performing with Music City and they are a real stand-up program that gave me some good experience, but I thought I would branch out and try something different this year,” Richey said.
“I’ve always known about the Madison Scouts because they’re just a real class act. Everyone I know has nothing but great things to say about them and my drum mentor, Scott Stephenson, marched with the Scouts so I know what a great program it is and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
The audition this past weekend in Dallas was actually the third set of auditions Richey had to go through before finally being told the news he wanted to hear – that he was offered a contract to march with the Madison Scouts for the 2012 season.
“The first two auditions were in Indiana and they just kept narrowing it down,” he said. “By the time they were ready to tell us who made the cut this past weekend, I was so nervous. It was such a relief when Mr. Lee Beddis told us five bass drummers we had made it.”
Touring with the Madison is a near three-month commitment that will start with move-in on May 24 and last through the final tour performance on Aug. 11.
During the four weeks from May 24 through the start of the tour on June 22, Richey will live in Wisconsin practicing the Scouts’ tour show in order to prepare for the seven-week long tour across the U.S. that will bring him as close as Atlanta on July 28 as the group performs in the DCI Atlanta Southeastern Championship.
“I owe a lot to the people that have supported me like my family, Mr. McNutt, Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Willis and Will McAlister,” Richey said. “All these people know how important all this is to me and they’ve been supportive every step of the way.
“The past few weeks have been some of the greatest I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to get started on this new experience this summer,” Richey said.