It’s not uncommon for professional sports teams to have their own pep bands and drumlines. Since 2012, the Steeline, the official drumline of the Pittsburg Steelers, has been a mainstay on the North Shore and in Heinz Field. 25 percussionists express their love for the Steelers football team in a way that many fans can’t: through rhythm and drums!
Vince Wallace organized an unofficial group in the beginning to play outside the stadium in performances known as “busking.” The next year the Steelers officially made the street performers their guests for two games, and by the third year, they became the official drumline of the football team.
Most of the members are in their 20s and 30s and work regular day jobs. Some work in music and some work in other fields.
From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Charlie Houck, 29, who works at a tool and die shop and teaches high school drumlines, is the section leader for the quads (sets of pitched toms). “This is what I do,” he said, “to keep myself sane.”
Beckie Unitas, a 26-year-old bartender and drumline instructor, played in drumlines in high school and college.
“There were a few years I didn’t play, because it didn’t fit in with my schedule, and they were miserable,” she said.
Ms. Unitas, the proud grandniece of Pittsburgh native and longtime Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, had never attended a Steelers game until joining the Steeline this year. “I wish that every professional sports team had a drumline, because it’s really one of the best things that’s ever happened in my life,” she said.
“It’s like being a cheerleader, but with crashy things instead of pompoms,” said Erika Laing, 36, who learned the crash cymbals especially to join the Steeline. (“My cats didn’t like it,” she said.)
One of the great things about these drumlines (and similar groups) is that they bring the specific art of percussion and drumming to a wider audience than just drum corps or school-related performances. There are more than 20 of these groups associated with NFL teams.
And the teams love having these drumlines around. Rick Giugliano, the Steelers’ Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing, said this of bringing on the Steeline:
“Every game day is a special and unique moment for fans. We really wanted to ramp up our pageantry with game day itself. It’s pretty easy to enjoy what they’re doing. People can relate.”
John Wodarek, the team’s entertainment, Marketing and operations Manager said:
“The neat thing about drum lines is they can get out into the community. This…was just something that clicked right off the bat.”
Here at Marching Band Is Awesome we love and support drumlines and pep bands at every level, all the way from beginning music education all the way through drum corps and NFL groups!
Photos by: Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette | More info: www.pghsteeline.com