Pittsburgh Steeline drummers to keep beat at Steelers games
The Steelers and a group of Pittsburgh-area percussionists have joined forces to make sure training camp practices and home games at Heinz Field will be a bit louder this year.
For the first time, the Pittsburgh Steeline — a drumline that has performed throughout the region and in parking lots outside Steelers games — will be officially affiliated with the Steelers.
“It's amazing,” Steeline co-owner and creative director Dustin Lowes said of the partnership with the team. “All of us love Pittsburgh. We grew up in Pittsburgh. We love drumming, and we love the Steelers. To be able to combine all of that at once is really like a lifelong dream.”
The group grew from humble beginnings to official affiliation with the Black and Gold by taking initiative and letting their instruments do the talking.
“A bunch of our friends do pro drumlines in other NFL cities around the country,” Lowes said of the impetus to start the group. “(Co-owner Vince Wallace) said, ‘Hey, we've got to be the ones to start this in Pittsburgh.' We started calling up all of our friends, got a bunch of guys together. We used social media like Facebook and Twitter and started borrowing drums from local high schools. We basically just started coming to games to tailgate, entertaining fans as patrons, really. Then someone from the Steelers was kind enough to bring us in to do some special events, and the rest has been history.”
A lifelong Latrobe resident has made a big contribution to the group's success. Matt Roble, the Steeline's cymbal section leader, was a member of the Greater Latrobe High School marching band and Penn State's Blue Band.
“Really, most of what I do with the cymbal section is just making sure we're having as much fun as possible and being as engaging to the crowd as possible,” Roble said. “We're able to do a lot more things visually than the people who are hauling drums are able to do. We're really trying to make sure we're doing things that are really entertaining to the crowd and really just trying to have a good time with what we're doing.”
Roble majored in music education and is a substitute music teacher in Derry and Latrobe in addition to assisting with the Yough High School marching band.
“I've noticed a lot that the kids really, really enjoy us,” Roble said. “A lot of us are music teachers in the group, and it's exciting for us because it's something that might inspire them to pick up an instrument when they're able to at school.”
The group treated fans to musical accompaniment at the team's first training camp practice, then again at Friday's night practice.
“The Steelers things we play are very interactive,” Roble said of the group's repertoire. “We have a ‘Let's Go Steelers' beat that we play, and it's really just trying to keep the crowd excited and ready for Steelers football.”
The drumline will also be performing at St. Vincent College for the Steelers Family Night practice Aug. 14, and at Heinz Field for every Steelers home game this season.
“I think everybody will really enjoy it,” Steelers marketing director Rick Giugliano said. “It's part of our kind of countdown to kickoff before the game starts.”
“The whole thing's been a blast,” Roble said of his time with the Steeline. “Playing for the Steelers last year and then this year when we're going to be in the stadium for every game ... it's just really neat to be able to be there in that element, not just being there as a fan of the Steelers — we're all fans of the Steelers, obviously — but being there and being able to play, being able to entertain the crowd, help enhance the fans' (experience) here in Latrobe, whether they live here or they're visiting here, help enhance their experience here at training camp has just really been a neat experience.”
And with at least eight home games still on the slate for this year, the Steeline experience is just beginning.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.