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Canyon ISD music educators, staff lend talents to July 4 celebration

Director+of+school+nutrition+Ken+Robinson+sings+%22Two+Pump+Texaco%22+during+a+rehearsal.
Director of school nutrition Ken Robinson sings

Director of school nutrition Ken Robinson sings "Two Pump Texaco" during a rehearsal.

Erin Sheffield

Erin Sheffield

Director of school nutrition Ken Robinson sings "Two Pump Texaco" during a rehearsal.

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The cluster of middle-aged men gathered onstage reflect a manic energy as they sing and bounce with their instruments before a red, white and blue clad audience. A group of young children run in circles with the beat, giggling and cartwheeling. Some of the audience claps along. It is a scene of pulsating energy, the freedom from stress and rules and work, the buildup before the epic boom of the fireworks, all provided by a few familiar faces.

The CFRs, a country cover band featuring several Canyon ISD employees, opened for Amarillo group Noah Jenda before the fireworks show in Conner Park July 4. The group included head choir director Brandon Farren, head band director Mike Sheffield and director of school nutrition Ken Robinson. Certified public accountant John Crozier, who does not work for CISD, completed the group.

“The Fourth of July is a great celebration of the community of Canyon who’s been so supportive of the fine arts as a whole,” bassist Farren said. “Being the choir director at Canyon High School, the community always shows up to everything we do: concerts, Desserts on Broadway, musical. It’s fun to give back to them for the Fourth of July.”

Before the show, Robinson, a guitarist and vocalist for the band, said he expected a crowd.

“Amarillo’s having all their celebrations on the weekend, so that’s going to give Amarillo something to do, to come to Canyon,” Robinson said. “Typically in previous fireworks shows, we’ve gotten about 7,000 to 8,000 people. This year, we could get as many as 8,000 to 10,000.”

Sheffield, the band’s drummer, said he got so busy teaching and playing concert percussion, he had a beautiful drumset he could not play.

“Drumset was the reason I started percussion,” Sheffield said. “It led me to making that my major, and it led to a lot of job success, but I got away from it. I’m forced to go back into it, and I’m having a ball.”

Farren said his favorite song the band played in their 14-song set is “Brown-Eyed Girl.”

I am so excited for my students to get to see this side of me.”

— Mike Sheffield, drummer

“It showcases each one of us individually and us as an ensemble,” Farren said. “It’s probably the most fun we have onstage, and this is all about having fun. It’s kind of a vacation from classical music.”

The band was formed by guitarist and vocalist John Crozier and Robinson in 2015 to play for the Lions Club Queen’s Banquet.

“The Lions Club has a banquet to honor the job that the queen does every year before she graduates, and they asked us to play because they just loved to hear us play,” Robinson said. “The year Farren’s daughter was the queen, we got this really neat idea. We circumvented her, and we brought her dad in, rehearsed a couple tunes and surprised her the night of the banquet. Her dad entertained, and they loved it.

Following their performance with Farren, the Canyon Chamber of Commerce invited the group to open for local band “Noah Jenda,” at which point Sheffield was invited.

“They wanted local hometown guys,” Robinson said. “They can bring bands in from all over, but ‘Noah Jenda’’s Amarillo and WT professors, and then they said, ‘Oh, we’ve got to have you open for this group on Fourth of July.'”

Sheffield said he was looking forward to playing in front of his students.

“I always see them perform, and they always see me as a director,” Sheffield said. “They’ve never seen me behind a drumset. I am so excited for my students to get to see this side of me.”

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Canyon ISD music educators, staff lend talents to July 4 celebration