The Dirty Birds are Back!


Drumroll please…The Dirty Birds are back! The Dirty Birds have been an essential part of Academic Magnet school spirit for about 20 years. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Dirty Birds have not been able to perform in a lot of their usual activities. Yet, this year with returning members and captains Oliver Ball, Noah Johnson, and Sophia Leclerc, the Dirty Birds are looking forward to being more involved in school spirit. So to get some insider information, I will be interviewing the founder and current leader of the Dirty Birds, Mr. Grimshaw, on what to look forward to and expect from the Dirty Birds this year!

For all the freshmen who do not know what Dirty Birds is, it is basically the school band, except everyone plays the drums, specifically the djembe. Mr. Grimshaw founded the Dirty Birds 20 years ago after his study hall was complaining about how horrible the football team was (some things really never change). Mr. Grimshaw told his focus class that they can’t complain about the football team unless they get out and play, so that’s exactly what they did. Instead of playing on the football team they got drums and brought them to the football games to make lots of noise to encourage the football players but also bring more school spirit to the games. The mentality seemed to be that if we lose every football game we must win in something: school spirit. And then, the tradition of the Dirty Birds formed. It started as an only senior group but soon expanded to juniors after they begged to join, and that developed over time as now the club is available for sophomores, juniors, and seniors (sorry freshman maybe next year). The club voted on their name to be Dirty Birds as “our mascot is the raptors and our beats are dirty.” The motto is Rhythm, Passion, Drums, and Mr. Grimshaw states that the Dirty Birds were formed as an “inclusive group that offers an outlet for kids to connect through rhythms.”

With COVID-19 there were only two returning members last year and all new members so everything was new to pretty much everyone which added more pressure and stress on Mr. Grimshaw, who had only two seniors to help teach a dozen teens how to play the drums and also all the rhythms. Yet this year with returning members Mr. Grimshaw said that everything is “much easier” as members are able to build upon what they learned last year to learn newer and more complicated rhythms. Mr. Grimshaw believes that the first practice went really well and he is very confident and excited about the group. When asking Mr. Grimshaw about what he is most excited about this year’s Dirty Birds, he responded that he is most looking forward to “building back since COVID” such as exploring some new ground (hinting that some new rhythms were being made) meeting back with returning members, and developing newer members. 

This year also offers more opportunities for the Dirty Birds. They will be playing at more home football games compared to last year, pep rallies, and the talent show. Another event that the Dirty Birds have not been able to participate in since COVID-19 is Fam Jam. Fam Jam is a family festival in downtown Charleston at the Children’s Museum that includes live music and other family oriented entertainment. Another activity that Mr. Grimshaw is excited to start again is an outreach program that goes to elementary schools to perform for the kids to get them excited about music. The Dirty Birds also work closely with the cheerleaders to work on some iconic Magnet cheers for the football game. When asking Mr. Grimshaw what his favorite rhythm or cheer is he said that they are “all like his children and he will never say which one.” Mr. Grimshaw did state that Freaky Deaky is the Dirty Birds most iconic and long lasting cheer and member Oliver Ball supported this statement by saying his favorite rhythm to play is Freaky Deaky. 

If any of these activities sound fun to you, don’t be scared to join Dirty Birds! If you don’t have any musical experience or don’t know how to play the drums and are hesitant to join, Mr. Grimshaw says that the “Dirty Birds accepts people from all skill levels” and that it’s more about the energy you bring rather than your skill level. At the end of the day you can always learn how to play the drums so don’t let that hold you back from joining. If you are interested go talk to Mr. Grimshaw and practices are Monday and Thursday after school.

This year the Dirty Birds are excited to be more involved in school spirit with more performances, returning members, and rhythms. So look forward to seeing the Dirty Birds this year!