Joel Tucker is genuinely a “local.” Having been born in Raleigh, he grew up in Wendell and attended East Wake High School. From childhood he wanted to be a surgeon when he grew up, and even pursued pre-med for two years in college. But the arts beckoned to him, bringing him back to his other passions, music and his trumpet. Mr. Tucker attended Appalachian State University and East Carolina University, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Music with a minor in Science, and a Master’s degree in Music with concentrations in Music Performance and Music Theory. He is married to Erin Tucker, and has three children, Timothy Joel (TJ), Jayme, and Emily. And as if that weren’t enough to keep him on his toes, Mr. Tucker also shares his home with three dogs (Leroy, Buddy, and Lilly) and a hedgehog named Hodgins.
Musically, Mr. Tucker has been shaped by many diverse experiences, including his time playing for Busch Entertainment at Busch Garden’s Williamsburg, performing in the NC Reveler’s Jazz Orchestra for six years, providing music at many weddings and church events for 15+ years, and being a part of the well-known band, Steve Owens and Summertime, for four years during which he played trumpet all over the southern East Coast.
Mr. Tucker cites two big influences on his life: his own father, and musician Maynard Ferguson. Although his father died in 2004, Mr. Tucker thinks about him every day, and says “Every decision I make, I always think, “what would my dad think about that?” Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader who Mr. Tucker would have liked to have had the opportunity to play with, and says “He was one of my biggest heroes in music growing up. Technically speaking, he was not a great trumpet player, but he had great passion for jazz, and incredible range on trumpet. Even when he was having a bad performance, it was exciting because of his passion.”
Mr. Tucker is especially passionate about Big Band Jazz, and enjoys listening to such greats as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Bill Chase, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong, as well as to more modern musicians such as Michael Bublé, Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, and Arturo Sandoval. Don’t let this fool you though, as there isn’t a type or genre of music that Mr. Tucker doesn’t like!
Ayden-Grifton High School in Pitt County, NC was the place where Mr. Tucker got his start in teaching. Before coming to WFHS, he taught at Fike High School for five years. He’s now been at our school for that same period of time, and continues to grow our program. His favorite band students are the ones who dedicate themselves to practicing diligently, like he’s seen with his own son, TJ. In the same vein, his biggest pet peeve is students who don’t apply themselves, and it’s especially disappointing when students are “not really trying at all.”
More tidbits about Mr. Tucker:
In your time outside of WFHS bands, what might you be seen doing? “I love to fish, but I’m so tired after work, you’d probably see me watching TV or sleeping.”
If a student were to bribe you, what would it be with, besides money? “A Monnette trumpet (very expensive – look them up!), or a really big ribeye steak for me to grill out.”
What is your top wish list item for the band program? “A storage space on campus for all of the equipment we do not use year round. Our band room design did not take storage or growth into account at all. It would be nice if architects would consult band directors before designing band rooms.”
What would you like to do in retirement? “I want to retire on the waterfront somewhere (lake, sound, beach, etc), and fish until I die. I would love to buy a houseboat and live on the water.”