There are few things the Baltimore Ravens have over the Steelers in the teams' AFC North rivalry. One area where the dirty birds do have an edge, though, is their team marching band — one of only two in the NFL. But if Vince Wallace has his way, the Steelers will someday at least have an official drum line.
Wallace, a graduate of Gateway and IUP who teaches music in the Propel charter schools, came up with the idea for a Steelers drum line last year, and with help from friend Dustin Lowes and a few others, he brought Steeline to life this past summer. The group — with the same general set-up you'd expect in a high school or college drum line — played an official Steelers gig at the last preseason home game.
"We have a lot of friends who do this in other cities; there's a group in Philadelphia, for example," Wallace explains. "We thought, ‘Why can't we do it in Pittsburgh?'"
So far, the group isn't officially affiliated with the team, so Wallace is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so that Steeline can buy its own drums. (The players, who number about 20, currently rent or borrow drums and cymbals for performances.)
Members of Steeline also act as in-house composers, working out original pieces and all-drum versions of popular pump-up tunes ("Get Ready for This," "Black and Yellow"). The group is currently working out a percussive "Steelers Polka." This is no student group; the players are almost all over 21, trained percussionists who play in other bands or work in music education.
The hope is that if Steeline proves itself to be a crowd favorite — one that's in it for the long haul — it will become an official Steelers fixture. In the meantime, the group plays tailgates and bars on home game days, roving about to entertain Pittsburgh pigskin supporters with percussion ... and having a little fun, too.
"Right now, we're all-volunteer," Wallace says. "We do this because we enjoy it."
The Steeline Kickstarter campaign can be found at www.tinyurl.com/steelinekick.