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The sun was sliced off from view as the Blane Dunnam Band found themselves up against the brick wall of Fall Line Brewing Co. on Sept. 11.
Fall Line had begun to build a beer garden for outdoor customers, and the limited seating along with the open space proved to be the perfect setting for a four-piece band to play for an open crowd.
The crowd rolled in slowly as the band got going. Their gritty sound began reverberating against the wall and echoing through the streets of Macon.
People danced to the slow tunes and cheered to the harder-hitting tracks as the band worked their way through their 25-song setlist.
The show lasted long into the night despite the coming storm, and the crowd was left wanting more after each of the two intermissions.
Blane Dunnam is a singer-songwriter living in Macon, Ga., with his wife, Mercy Dunnam, his son, Nehemiah, and his daughter, River.
“I grew up in a musical family. We just always sang together in church or whatever else,” Dunnam said.
Dunnam attributed his start in music to his own ability to learn, as he began playing guitar at around age 12, and time spent in the choir at church. Dunnam and his wife are both practicing Christians. Not only do they frequent church, but they are also heavily involved.
“Right now, I’m the worship leader at my church while also playing shows around town,” Dunnam said.
Dunnam’s music and band
The Blane Dunnam band is a mixture of many different sounds stylized around Dunnam’s musical palette.
“I play a mixture of Americana, folk, with maybe a little bit of country,” Dunnham said.
Even with his individual style, Dunnam isn’t simply a solo artist.
“I have two kinds of shows. One is just me with an acoustic guitar, and the other is me and my band,” Dunnam said.
Dunnam’s show on Sept. 11 was one where he played with bandmates: drummer Justin Emerson, lead guitarist Ramsey Wynee and bass guitarist Clayton Goodwin.
The band isn’t a cover band per se, but their set list for their concert consisted of many well-known songs such as “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and “Come Together” by Gary Clark Jr.
They also played a Blane Dunnam original song called “For You My Love,” which Dunnam wrote for his wife in 2019.
Goodwin even considered “For You My Love” to be one of his favorite songs that they had ready for their setlist.
Dunnam also has one studio album with a 12-song track list that he recorded with his sister, Candice Emerson, back in 2018.
During the band’s performance, Wynee’s guitar solos and his play throughout the show were striking. Dunnam also impressed with his vocal range and the occasional crack in his voice, which added a nice charm to most, if not all, of the songs they performed.
Emerson not only kept the tempo of the setlist brilliantly, but he also made use of the brick backdrop to bolster the sound of his own play.
Goodwin’s bass playing added a certain twang to some songs that would have lacked severely without him while also being strong throughout the performance.
Performing during COVID-19
COVID-19 stood as a challenge to Dunnam, who had previously been playing many live shows.
“It was difficult to play shows at first,” Dunnam said. “I did a lot of shows over livestream or Facebook Live. People hosted some shows for me as well.”
One of the livestream events Dunnam participated in was the 478 Sings United live music tournament. The tournament consisted of artists local to Macon, and Dunnam made it all the way to the final round to take second place.
Despite COVID-19 forcing Dunnam to go virtual, he explained that it wasn’t the worst thing for him.
“The block of time where I couldn’t play shows actually worked out for me thanks to the birth of my daughter River. I was able to be with my family during that time,” Dunnam said.
Dunnam said that, despite COVID-19, he dreams of continuing his music career by playing live shows and hopes to keep going for a long time.
Dunnam’s music can be found on iTunes and Spotify as well as through his Facebook page, which also links to his website.
Despite rising COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia, the Georgia High School Association is allowing the fall football season to begin in September.
According to the GHSA website, high schools were allowed to begin play by Sept. 4 and were already allowed to practice in pads as of Aug. 1.
Despite these dates, many high schools have delayed their season until October, if not later.
“The football schedule is a ‘work in progress’ this season, and probably will remain so throughout the rest of the fall,” said Steve Figueroa, director of media relations with GHSA.
Figueroa said that the schedule listed on the GHSA website and the ones that individual schools plan on playing all differ and that schools and school systems are making decisions almost daily that affect the schedule in some way.
“We make the changes to the online schedule as soon as we learn of those decisions, but we are at the mercy of the schools who are changing their schedules as those decisions are made,” Figueroa said.
None of the six Bibb County high schools with official athletics programs under GHSA began playing official games until Sept. 18, according to the Bibb County Athletics website.
Bibb County Athletics states, however, that their own schedule is subject to change and they already cancelled what would have been the first and second week of football.
Even though the GHSA has their own game day operations, Bibb County has created their own set of rules.
These rules include articles such as, “Both teams will present proof that a symptom and temperature check was done on each student and coach prior to arriving at game site,” and many more.
With these rules in place, eight teams played Sept. 18 to begin high school football in Bibb County on the public school level.
Private schools such as First Presbyterian Day School and Academy for Classical Education had already begun play.
First Presbyterian defeated Ace 37-14 during a game Sept. 4, and both schools have other games this weekend.
The Westside Seminoles lost to the Central Charges 12 to 7. The game ended on a pass attempt by Seminoles quarterback Ja'lon Miller which was broken up in the endzone.
The Rutland Hurricanes lost to the Luella Lions 21-6. The Lions only allowed the Hurricanes to score in the second quarter while they scored a touch-down each quarter until the fourth.
The Therrell Panthers lost to the Northeast Raiders 34-20. The game looked like a blowout toward the end, but the Panthers actually led 13-12 going into the fourth quarter before giving up 22 points and only scoring seven.
The Howard Huskies lost to the Northside Eagles 28-7. The Eagles scored twice through the air and twice on the ground in order to rout the Huskies who only managed to score in the second quarter.
High School football will continue in Bibb County with preventative measures in place to try and keep players, staff and coaches safe.
The NHL Playoffs have already completed the first round of play as well as the qualifying round, and as of Sept. 2, only four teams from each conference remain for the second round.
The second round of play is a best-of-seven series with the teams reseeding upon the end of the round.
The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning are two of the four Eastern Conference teams trying to make it to the finals. The Lightning has already won that series behind Ondrej Palat’s five goals and three assists and Brayden Point’s two goals and seven assists. They will play the winner of the Islanders and Flyers series.
The other two Eastern Conference teams are the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders won that series 4-3. Both Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have three goals while the combination of Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, and Mathew Barzal all have four assists.
The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche are two of the four Western Conference teams trying to make it to the conference finals. Dallas has won that series 4-3 behind the play of Jamie Benn, who has racked up three goals and six assists during the seven-game series.
The other two Western Conference teams are the Vancouver Canucks and the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights have won that series 4-3 behind Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch’s four goals and Shea Theodore’s seven assists.
The Knights will play the Stars and the Lightning will play the Islanders in each conference’s respective finals.
Excitement for the return of the National Basketball Association season, which has been suspended since the season stopped on March 11, was renewed when the NBA announced their “bubble” plan.
The NBA is using the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, to host the 22 playoff eligible teams for an eight-game regular season. This bubble strategy means teams will stay in one place for the duration of the regular season and playoffs, according to CBS Sports.
The bubble has proven to be a working model, as no player has tested positive since the start of the bubble. Even players who leave for personal reasons are quarantined before they can take the floor.
With the addition of the bubble, teams that might not have been able to make the playoffs under normal circumstances will have a chance in the form of an eighth seed play-in game. The play-in game will take place between the eighth and ninth seed of each conference, assuming the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed.
With its rules in place, the NBA bubble has successfully avoided any COVID-19 related issues while putting on a series of games for fans to watch. Because the bubble is taking place during what is almost a new season, team and player performances have been different and therefore demand awards for the eight games each team has played.
Bubble Team Awards: East
The Toronto Raptors have only lost one game in the NBA bubble and have shown the world that they deserve to be in the championship conversation.
The Raps have held a commanding 4.5 game lead over the Celtics from their position in the second seed, despite the disrespect to their status as defending champions.
They have also shown themselves to be capable of taking down the Lakers, the Heat and the Bucks while in the Bubble, despite losing to the Celtics.
The Milwaukee Bucks have more or less run away with the Eastern Conference this season, being five games ahead of the Toronto Raptors through the combined efforts of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo has averaged about 27.5 points per page with 12.75 rebounds since the start of the bubble while Middleton has averaged 21.5 points per game on 42.9 percent from three point range, according to ESPN.
The Bucks, however, only won three of their eight bubble games, but they might not have given it their best since they’re locked up the first seed. They were missing Antetokounmpo for the final game of the bubble season due to his suspension.
The Brooklyn Nets have five wins in the bubble despite missing Kevin Druant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Taurean Prince and Kyrie Irving.
Caris LeVert and Joe Harris have more than carried the load with each averaging 20 points and Harris making 55% of his three-point shots.
They could possibly have made some serious noise in the playoffs if they weren’t all but doomed to play the Raptors in the first round.
Playoff Dark Horse:
It seems wrong to call the defending champions the dark horse, but the Toronto Raptors have not been given the respect they command since the departure of Kawai Leanord.
They have a chance to not only make the finals for the second year in a row, but actually win the gold.
Bubble Team Awards: West
No one in their right mind would have picked the Phoenix Suns to be the best team of the bubble, but the Suns have eight straight wins and have essentially come back from the dead inside the bubble.
Devin Booker has silenced all who doubted him or his ability to lead a team, while averaging 31 points per game on 49.7% shooting with six assists to boot since the bubble began.
Booker has had the ultimate sidekick in Deandre Ayton who has averaged 15.6 points per game with 9.6 rebounds, according to ESPN.
Unfortunately, despite the perfect record, wins from the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers during Thursday's seeding games have kept the Suns from making it to the play-in game.
The Memphis Grizzlies were the eighth seed at the start of the bubble and had one job: win half their games, and they would be guaranteed a spot in the eighth seed and the play-in game.
Eight games later, and the Grizzlies have barely scraped together enough wins to keep them in the play-in game. With the two wins they do have, the Grizzlies have done enough to clinch a spot in the play-in despite their poor play.
It’s worth noting that the losses of Jarren Jackson Jr. to a torn meniscus in his left knee and Justice Winslow to a hip injury have left the team scrambling to find help for Ja Morant and probably doing worse than they normally would have.
Despite missing two key pieces, Morant has averaged 20 points per game with 9.9 assists while doing his best to keep the Grizzlies afloat.
Unfortunately, Morant’s play wasn’t enough to allow the Grizzlies to defeat the Trail Blazers in Saturday’s play-in game.
The Phoenix Suns get two awards here. Not only are they just the overall best team in the Western Conference based on the last eight games, but they had no business being close to the playoff conversation until the bubble started.
Playoff Dark Horse:
While whoever wins the eighth seed might be able to make some noise, there’s a scarier team lurking in the middle of the Western Conference playoff bracket.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are the fourth seed and quietly have won four of seven games in the bubble. While that record might not be all that amazing, the Thunder are guaranteed a first round matchup with the Houston Rockets and a revenge game for their star point guard Chris Paul.
The Thunder are a team that wins by committee, with seven players averaging 12 or more points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander topping all Thunder scorers with 17 points per game, and they’ll look to lock down James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.
Last season, the Mercer men’s basketball team had 19 wins and 15 losses. This was an improvement over the previous year with 15 wins and 17 losses. The Bears look to further expand their success into this coming season.
The annual Orange and White game will be the first test of their preparedness for the season.
Head Coach Bob Hoffman said he has high expectations for not just the returning players but also the new Bears joining the team this season.
“It’s the first time they’re going to have uniforms on before the beginning of the season; we’ve got a bunch of new guys. So, the opportunity to hear the band and the referees, popcorn popping, all that good stuff. It’s completely different from a scrimmage,” he said.
None of the seven players returning this season were top five in points per game last season.
Junior Ross Cummings will be stepping into a bigger role after leading Mercer in scoring on several occasions, including in points per game toward the end of the season. He also led the team in three-pointers made for last season.
Mercer has had plenty of closed scrimmages beforehand, but none compare to the power of the Orange and White Scrimmage.
“Being out on the floor with uniforms on is a little different,” Hoffman said, “Mainly being on the floor, getting the ball in your hands, and experiencing live action with this crowd in this building will be huge for us.”
The Bears are looking to return to the NCAA tournament in March, having last been there in 2014 where they pulled off a stunning win over Duke 78-71. Mercer couldn’t edge past Tennessee in the third round that year, but they are looking to push past that barrier.
“Always, the expectation is win a conference championship and get to the NCAA tournament,” Hoffman said, “We just need to try and stay healthy and get better every game and come out on the floor and practice.”
With a great student turnout and some hard work, the Bears will be poised to make that run.
“We’d love to have a great student turnout. You know, we’ve been blessed over the years,” Hoffman said. ”