Campbell’s Ortiz performs for “Extreme Makeover”

March 18, 2009 | Leave a Comment

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Buies Creek, N.C.-Composed of part time musicians with day jobs, The Huckleberry Brothers is a local band that performs blue grass and folk music at Civil War reenactments and other community events throughout the year. Brought together by their passion for music and desire to preserve the traditional and popular music of the mid 19th century , the group never dreamed of national recognition until the popular ABC television program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" came calling in early March wanting the band to play for an upcoming broadcast. Campbell University Spanish Professor Ann Ortiz, a member of the group, said taping the show was a mind-boggling experience.

"It was really an exciting day," Ortiz said. The program has a veterans theme and is cast in a kind of quasi-Civil War setting, where the cameras pan back and forth from the house being demolished for later rebuilding. Replicas of Civil War-era cannons were also fired. The show's producers wanted us to play period music for the filming."

Each episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is self contained and features a race against time on a project that would ordinarily take at least four months to achieve. It involves a team of designers, contractors and construction workers who have just seven days to totally rebuild the entire house of a deserving family. The episode in which the Huckleberry Brothers perform takes place in Jamesville, N.C. at the home of Gulf War veteran Jeff Cooper and his family. The father suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and the son, saved by his father in a traffic accident, lost part of his arm to amputation.

"It is really a sad story, but it has a happy ending," Ortiz said. "The family comes back from vacation and sees their new house, a beautiful log cabin design."

The show featuring Ortiz and the Huckleberry Brothers is scheduled to air on May 3 at 8 p.m. on the ABC network.

"It was a blast and exciting to be a part of the show," Ortiz said. "We also felt privileged to be able to play a role in helping the Cooper family."

The Huckleberry Brothers formed in 2002 as a result of an interest in 19th century music. The group has grown to include nine members who play several instruments including five-string banjo, fiddle (violin), guitar, accordion, mandolin, tin whistle, harmonicas, bones and tambourine. Their goal is to research and perform the minstrel and old time styles of music in a way that is faithful to the original form. The group plays for events such as Civil War reenactments, living history presentations, period balls and various other functions.

An accomplished musician, Dr. Ann Ortiz, who performs on fiddle, banjo and vocals, is an associate professor of Spanish and Colonial Spanish American Literature at Campbell. She also serves as co-director of the College of Arts and Sciences Honors program. She graduated from the East Carolina School of Music with a bachelor's degree in piano and received a master's degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona at Tucson. Ortiz earned a Ph.D. in Spanish American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the Huckleberry Brothers in 2004.

Photo Copy: Dr. Ann Ortiz and the Huckleberry Brothers perform at the Fort Macon, N.C. Civil War reenactment. Pictured from left are Marsha Harris, Mike Parker, Ann Ortiz, Bryant Henderson, Ed Little and Curtis Cole.

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