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Band at Soybean Festival has strong UTM ties

By Dr. Robert Nanney
On September 4, 2012

 When Nashville-based rock band Fools For Rowan hits the stage at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, for UTM Night at the Soybean Festival, it will mark the homecoming of two band members with strong UTM ties.

FFR's bassist, Andrew "Gibby" Williams, is a 2007 alumnus of UTM, and rhythm guitarist and background vocalist Ryan Nanney was born in Martin and reared in Dresden. He's the son of Communications Department Chairman Robert Nanney.

"I remember going to the Soybean Festival back in my days before graduating from UTM and seeing some cool bands. I didn't imagine that I'd get to be one of those bands on the main stage at some point - and yet, here I am, doing just that. It's a good feeling," Williams said. "It'll also be great to see some friends and professors from my UTM days at this show!"

 Williams, a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., went to work at WENK radio in Union City after graduating with a Communications degree at UTM. He worked there as a DJ until joining FFR in 2011, when its original bassist left the band to get married.

Nanney is excited to return to the city where he was born and lived until he moved to nearby Dresden at age 9.

"It's a dream come true to be playing where I grew up," said Nanney, who has been touring with the band full time since it formed in late 2009 and he moved to the Nashville area. He is a 2006 graduate of Dresden High School.

"I have so many friends and family in this area, and it's great that FFR can play for them and all of our fans at UTM and this area," Nanney said.

FFR is in the midst of its third nationwide tour and is returning from gigs last week in Indiana, North Carolina and Maryland.

Lead singer Erin Mullins, most recently from South Dakota, has one of the most powerful and sultry voices in the business. She put together the original members of FFR in late 2009 and the band released its first album, "Twisted. Tied Up. Tangled."

The band started out playing wherever it could get booked, sometimes performing in front of very small crowds. 

"Whether 10 or 10,000 people show up, we're going to give everyone the same show with all our energy and leave it all out there on the stage," Mullins said.

Over time, FFR built a fan base and was fortunate enough to open a huge show at Summerfest in Milwaukee for Halestorm, Sick Puppies and Adelitas Way on July 4, 2010.  From there, the band has performed with big-name artists like Evanescence, Skillet, Gin Blossoms, Trapt, Candlebox, Neon Trees and many more, touring from coast to coast.

One of FFR's career highlights was opening a sold-out show with Evanescence in August 2011 in Nashville. Soon after, it was named to Music Connection magazine's "Hot 100 Live Unsigned" bands list and just recently released its second album, "Who Killed Amanda Day?" featuring the single and video to "Killed A Man Today."

Music from this new release will soon be featured in many American TV shows, including MTV's "The Real World" and "Teen Wolf," the E! Network's three Kardashian spinoffs, including the original "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," and used in broadcasts on Fox Sports, which could include college and NFL football, the World Series and the Super Bowl.

Fools For Rowan has toured from coast to coast, wowing fans in Seattle, New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Nashville, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Portland, Atlanta, Austin and everywhere in between. It has a heavy college-following across the nation.

FFR's first single, "Burnt Around The Edges," received a great deal of airplay at college radio stations, along with support at many mainstream rock stations across the U.S. But its song "Dead" has had the most impact. The "Dead" video was recently featured on Fuse TV and Havoc TV and has been viewed more than 378,000 times on YouTube.

Joining Mullins, Nanney and Williams in the band are lead guitarist Rachel Brandsness from Oregon and drummer Jordan Cullen from Kentucky.

Thursday night's show is appropriate for all ages, which is another mark of FFR with its family-friendly appeal.

For more information about FFR, check out its web site,, or its Facebook page.

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