street 1 300MADISONVILLE, Ky. (1/18/13) – The Street Heat Band of Louisville, Ky. made their annual visit to Madisonville this morning to perform a show for every 4th, 5th, and 6th grader in the Hopkins County school district, including Dawson Springs Independent and Christ the King Catholic School. The Madisonville Community College Glema Mahr Center was packed from the top balcony down to the front of the stage from 8 a.m. Thursday morning to around 1 p.m. in the afternoon. Between 8 and 11, roughly 1000 students filed in and out of the center for two separate shows.
 
“Street Heat has been in existence for 21 years,” said band manager Lt. Col. Carl Yates of the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department. Col. Yates has been with the group for the past 7 years and said he knows the group is making a difference in the lives of youth because of the responses he hears from kids who have been watching Street Heat perform most of their lives even into their adulthood. “Research shows you must reach kids with these kinds of messages at an early age, before they’ve ever had their first experience with any kind of drinks or drugs. That’s why we target the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.”

SurfKY News posted an article on January 11, welcoming the band to Madisonville for this year’s show. Click here to view that post.

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Street Heat is a rock band out of the Jefferson County area, formed of police officers, correctional officers, emergency personnel, firefighters, and first responders. The band’s ambition is to provide messages of hope and inspiration targeting youth through popular main stream music. They sing songs of virtue that kids are familiar with and they occasionally modify some of the songs’ lyrics to suit their message. The students of Hopkins County were just as amped as the performers at today’s concert. The crowd jumped and danced around in the aisles of the Glema Mahr Center with joy and excitement in participation with the show.
 
Yates said it’s important for him that the kids not just hear and enjoy the music, but that they also hear the message in the song. At today’s show, the students often times knew the songs before the first lyrics were even sang. Col. Yates added that he knows the kids get the message because they’ve told him so without him even asking. “The reason we like to play popular songs that the kids know with a catchy beat is because those are the ones they’re actually paying attention to. They hear the lyrics when they like the beat.”
 
The band is comprised of some of Jefferson Counties’ most eligible talent. “We’re pretty picky with audition selections for the band,” said Col. Yates. “We note a person’s character as much as we do their musical or instrumental talent. They have to have stage presence and love kids and enjoy what they’re doing. They have to really believe in the messages. If they’re a little shy, that’s ok because the other band members usually bring them out of their shell.”

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Today’s shows began with Madisonville Police Department (MPD) Chief Wade Williams and Lt. Robert Carter playfully calling role of the different schools present, immediately getting the students involved and participating in the show, as the officers asked each school to yell out their presence in the auditorium. It was also notable that MPD officers were walking around in the audience in between shows talking, laughing, and joking with the kids as the kids laughed and joked back in response. It obviously put the children at ease in the authority of the police officers in the unintimidating setting to view the officers as people who are here to help and guide and not just figures of discipline and authority.
 
After the roll call, different officers and band members intermittently spoke between songs, each offering their own individual messages, lessons and other tidbits and anecdotes. The messages focused on topics such as peer pressure, anti-bullying and anti-violence, drug prevention, uniqueness, potential, and friends and decision making. Chaplain Tom Dylan introduced some core values to the students just before the singing began. He welcomed the crowd with tradition for American officers just before the band performed, by explaining the different colors and symbols in the American Flag and getting the crowd involved in singing the National Anthem. Values like honesty, loyalty, courage, and justice were some Chaplain Dylan mentioned.
 
Both shows concluded with a special guest appearance from the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley. Elvis entered the building under the alias, Don Goodfleisch. Goodfleish is a retired officer from Louisville Metro Police Department and the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department. In addition to his current part-time employment with West Bueschel Police Department, Goodfleish will be the 2013 official Elvis entertainer for the Louisville Hard Rock Café.

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Lt. Carter of MPD gave his abundant and everlasting appreciation for the Hopkins County Community for supporting the band and the show every year. Col. Yates did the same and said, “Madisonville is a special place for us. This is one community where we get the most support and appreciation. We always get a generous amount of monetary contribution from the citizens here and Madisonville is always welcoming to us. They’ve always been great at providing lodging and food and that’s really all we ask for.”
 
As reporters stood interviewing Col. Yates in between shows, a Hopkins County woman approached him and politely asked for a moment to share something with him. She said, “I just want you to know I’ve been watching Street Heat for the last 18 years because my oldest son is 20 years old and I just want you to know how much I appreciate you all. You are very, very appreciated.” Col. Yates showed his gratitude for the woman’s appreciation and said, “That’s why we do this.”
 
Street Heat will be back next year for their regular annual visit. Some of the students, if not most, will be able to enjoy the show and receive the messages of virtue for three years in a row and there’s no doubt they will be looking forward to the fun every year.

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Jessica Frodge
SurfKY News

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