By BETH ROWLAND
Special to The Herald-Mail
5:57 PM EDT, July 25, 2012
CLEAR SPRING ¿
It might seem like a long way from picking classic country music on a carnival stage to teaching kids in an elementary school classroom, but for W.T. Fleming of Clear Spring, it’s all part of one big, happy gig.
Fleming, 39, is founder and lead singer of W.T. Fleming and No Fences, a local country band that will play at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday, July 30, at the annual Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. Carnival on the carnival grounds on Big Springs Road. The carnival opens at 6 p.m.
Fleming’s interest in music predates his teaching career. He said he first learned to play the guitar while attending Shippensburg (Pa.) University, developing an interest in country music and beginning to play in bands at around age 20.
It was a summer job in 1994 at Nashville, Tenn.’s Ryman Auditorium, the so-called “Mother Church of Country Music,” that confirmed his growing interest in the history of country music and led to his life-long passion for the music of classic country.
“Meeting many of the great artists of the ’60s and ’70s made such an impression on me,” he said. “People like Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, John Michael Montgomery — (they) love and treasure their music. It’s precious to them. You have the feeling that it’s not about the money for them.”
Fleming defines classic country as the music of the true legends, like Merle Haggard and George Jones, unlike the more pop-oriented country of today.
Although he has a passion for music, Fleming loves teaching, too. For the past 11 years, during the school year, Fleming can be found at Clear Spring Elementary School, where he’s an enrichment teacher.
“I consider myself very lucky to have a career I love in teaching and to be able play music as well,” he said.
Fleming said there are similarities in the two professions.
“It’s a lot like being on stage when you’re in the classroom,” he said. “You have to know your audience in both teaching and playing onstage. You want the audience’s attention and you’d like to motivate them as well.”
Having played together for about seven years, W.T. Fleming and No Fences is made up of friends and family and takes a relaxed approach to its music.
“We don’t spend hours practicing, which might make it feel like a job,” Fleming said. “We see our music as a good reason to get together and play.”
Members of the band include his father, Dan Fleming, on saxophone, and his sister, Erin, on bass guitar and vocals. Other members of the band are lead guitarist Denny Harnish, who hails from Green-castle, Pa.; steel guitar player George Park Jr., who lives in Romney, W.Va.; keyboard player Steve Michael of Hagerstown; and drummer Mitch Funk from Mercersburg, Pa.
The Fleming family teaching network extends to twin brother, Dan, who teaches at Clear Spring Middle School, which they attended as kids.
“We joke that I get them ready in elementary school to send over to Dan at the middle school,” Fleming said.
When W.T. Fleming and No Fences plays for the carnival on Monday, it will be a repeat performance — and an experience that Fleming never gets tired of.
“It’s great to have the chance to play for the hometown crowd,” he said. “To stand on that stage and look out over the familiar faces of friends and neighbors is a wonderful feeling.”
He especially likes seeing the young faces of kids he’s taught and thinks they get a message watching him play on stage just as they do in the classroom.
“It sets an example for them, I think, that they too can do anything they put their mind to,” he said. “So much of the time their heroes are sports figures. This is another way (they can follow their dreams.)”
If you go ...
WHAT: W.T. Fleming and No Fences performing at Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. Carnival
WHEN: 7 and 10 p.m. Monday, July 30
WHERE: Carnival grounds, off Big Spring Road, Clear Spring.
COST: Entertainment is free.
CONTACT: Call 301-842-2300.
MORE: Carnival opens at 6 p.m. For carnival rides, advanced tickets cost $13 to ride all night; at the gate, $20.
Monday, July 30 — W.T. Fleming and No Fences
Tuesday, July 31 — The Avalons
Wednesday, Aug. 1 — The Back Creek Valley Boys
Thursday, Aug. 2 — Hicktown
Friday, Aug. 3 — Marie (Reba tribute artist)
Saturday, Aug. 4 — The Reagan Years
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail