I spent all day yesterday in Hendersonville announcing at the Hendersonville Golden Invitational, an annual marching band tournament hosted by the Hendersonville Band of Gold. I've announced every year (except for 2004, the year my son was born a couple of weeks before the tournament) since 2002, when Chris Seger took over as band director.
I spent 11 years in a band program, and I was in marching band for eight of those, four in high school and four in college. It's one of the things I've missed about growing up and being a responsible adult. When Chris asked me to announce in 2002, while incredibly nervous, I was very excited. I hadn't been to a competition since the last one I was in my senior year of high school. It's still a little never wracking at first, but earlier in the day there aren't as many spectators, and really, they're not there to listen to me, so as long as I don't screw something up horribly, it's all good.
This year it was unbearably hot in the press box. I can only imagine how miserable it must have been for the kids in uniform. I know I butchered some of the staff and field commander names, and well as some of the performance selections, but I don't lose sleep about it anymore. I blame the individuals for having oddly spelled or pronounced names. As far as I know there were no major snafus or complications. A scheduling mix-up caused us to get a band on the field about 15 minutes late, but we caught up for the most part. This might have been the fewest number of bands that performed since I started announcing, and Cumberland University didn't perform an exhibition show for the students, so the event ended a little sooner than usual. I was home before 10 p.m., and there's been a year or two when it was after 11:00.
This is usually the first contest each year for a lot of bands, and as such, a lot of the performances weren't as polished or as clean as they might end up in a few weeks.
There were a few performances I thought were pretty generic, something you can almost count on seeing each year. There was a Pirates of the Carribean show, a Bon Jovi show, and, well, one I really can't categorize. Like every year, I printed out a generic script to read, but I ended up using the program instead. One of the bands didn't have their performance listed, so I had to wing it. One of their background props had a bat signal on it, so I announced that they were performing selections from Batman. So of course they opened with Superman before going into Batman. And what was after Batman? Why, Indiana Jones, of course. And they ended on a medley of armed forces marches. So I felt a bit of a fool, but they're the ones who didn't get me their show list, so I didn't feel like a fool for very long. One of the shows that seemed a bit out of place was called "Seattle Grunge" and included Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, Them Bones by Alice in Chains, Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, and Even Flow by Pearl Jam. I think it could have been good, but either wasn't arranged well for a small marching band or just wasn't played well.
As the bands got bigger and the day wore on, I enjoyed the performances more and more. As always, I was impressed with Gallatin's band. Since the Hendersonville Band of Gold, my alma mater, couldn't compete, I was rooting for Gallatin, my current place of residence.
Since it was such a big part of life growing up and helped make me the man I am today, I'm a big fan of band programs and will support local ones in any way that I can. I hope that my kids grow up to enjoy and appreciate music, and I hope they'll want to at least try an instrument if that option is available to them. If it does interest them when they're older, I'd love to take them to HGI so they can experience it. I look forward to it every year.
Oh, I'll also try and update this post tomorrow with pictures.