Two Bearden teachers relish chance to educate students by day, be rock stars by night

Lydia Battey, Staff Writer

Vinyl Tap is a local band that formed in 2014. The band currently has five members, two of whom are current Bearden teachers – social studies teacher Mr. Matt McWhirter on guitar and vocals and art teacher Mrs. Victoria May on vocals and auxiliary percussion.

The band formed when Mr. McWhirter realized “that if I wanted to be in one more band before I became totally senile, I’d better get busy making it happen.”

Mr. McWhirter first contacted Mitch Moore, a drummer and former bandmate, before learning about the musical background of Mrs. May.

Mrs. May has been surrounded by music all her life. Her father played in a band when she was a child and introduced all types of music to her. She grew up listening to music during the late 70s and early 80s, similar to the music Vinyl Tap plays.

“[Mrs. May] turned out to have that rare combination of dedication and a killer voice,” Mr. McWhirter said.

Since the band has gotten together they have played at different locations all around Knoxville. They’ve played at Scruffy City Hall, Hard Rock Cafe, Wild Wings, and other local venues.

Through the years, students have gone to countless Vinyl Tap shows. Mr. McWhirter and Mrs. May enjoy having students come see them, but they admit that it can be daunting.

I’ll be honest and say it’s weird,” Mrs. May said. “While I appreciate the support, it’s strange to sing in front my students because I’m their teacher.”

Though there is some apprehension toward students watching them perform, the original version of Vinyl Tap featured two Bearden alum who had recently graduated. Brothers Ben and Nick Sisco played guitar, bass, and drums.

At the time, Vinyl Tap was playing mixes of different genres and eras, but now they tend to play songs from the 70s and 80s. Along with the music, the members were going through changes as well.

Some of the younger members of Vinyl Tap were going through notable life changes that restricted their time toward the band.

To keep a version of the band going, we eventually found some good musicians who were closer to our age,” Mr. McWhirter said.

However, these changes have allowed for Vinyl Tap to take on more difficult undertakings such as covers of Queen and Rush.

“It’s never easy to find the right chemistry among band members – like many marriages, it takes work keeping it together, and even then sometimes it doesn’t work out,” Mr. McWhirter said.

In this case, it’s working – both for Bearden’s two faculty rock stars and for all their fans.