Riff Runners Rock Angelina College’s Hudgins Hall ‘Newly Imagined’ Band Makes Debut

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Gary Stallard
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.

Band leader Dixon Shanks gave the crowd fair warning: Hudgins Hall was about to start jumping.

            Shanks and his band, the Riff Runners, certainly followed through on his promise.

            The “newly imagined, reorganized and updated” community big band made its Angelina College debut on Tuesday, performing a variety of tunes from various genres. Opening with “Some Skunk Funk” and wailing their way through other classics such as Gershwin’s “Foggy Day,” the Average White Band’s “Pick up the Pieces,” Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” among others, the performance kept the large crowd clapping and stomping throughout the night.

            The band closed the evening with a jazzed-up version of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” with Marshall Hance handling the vocals.

            The Riff Runners consist of musicians from Angelina and surrounding counties. The band states as its mission to offer high-level entertainment “to our community, promoting Angelina College with concerts, high school jazz band contests and encouraging local band students to participate.”

            The band consists of the following members:

            Saxophone Section: Jimmy Simmons (lead alto), Michael Parrish (2nd alto), Scott Floyd (1st tenor), David McArthur (2nd tenor) and John Cavanaugh (baritone).

            Trombones: Steve Cox (lead trombone), Ken Barnes (2nd trombone), Robert Shanks (3rd trombone) and Jimmy Battle (4th trombone).

            Trumpets: Max Mucino (lead trumpet), Steven Brown (2nd trumpet), Dwayne Forsythe (2nd trumpet), Ricky Gay (3rd trumpet) and Wyatt Gay (4th trumpet).

            Rhythm Section: Eric Chinn (keyboards), Gino Morgan (bass), Marshall Hance (guitar), and Mark Saldana (drums).

            Backup vocals: Debi Shanks and Sue Campbell.

            Sound/Lights: Sid Shanks.

            The band’s next performance at AC is scheduled for March 3, 2022.  

            For further information regarding Angelina College events, contact Krista Brown at kbrown@angelina.edu.

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