Sunday, September 14, 2008

2008 Hendersonville Golden Invitational

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.


Kate said...

I tried to tell Jeff about the Batman thing, and explain the grunge show. He didn't find it funny like I did. Then again, he is not a band kid like us.

Rob Rosenblatt said...

I have so much fun announcing at this thing.

Being in marching band was so much different than being on a sports team. My comparison may be a little off, though, because my high-school sports experience is with cross country and track, two largely individual sports, albeit with an overall team score. It's a overused cliche that "there is no I in team," but there kinda is in sports, or if not an I, a very select us or we. Depending on the sport, one person or a handful of people can carry a team. Not so with marching band. A marching band needs to be one cohesive unit in order to function well and properly. While ideal in sports, it's not always necessary. I think this brings a marching band closer as individuals, and why it seems so insular to "outsiders." Marching band members will always have a connection, even with those who were in different bands. It's like this weird hive mind kind of thing. Sometimes it's freaky, and sometimes (a lot of times) it gets made fun of, but I'll never exchange those 8 years of marching (well, maybe the 4 in college).

Chris said...

Another great job this year Rob. I could have done without the heat, but once again I had a great time sitting in the box and making sophomoric remarks about the bands with you. I'm looking forward to it again in 2009.

BTW (I'm so internet savvy with my abbreviations), I just saw V for Vendetta and I think you should put that on your movie review list. I found it fascinating.

Rob Rosenblatt said...

V for Vendetta sounds like a good idea. I've seen it, but I could stand to watch it again. I likes me some Natalie Portman...even a shaved-head Natalie Portman. It might be a good theme leading up to the release of Watchmen next year. These two, From Hell, and League of Extraordinary Gentlement were all comic books written by Alan Moore. Funny thing, though, he refuses to have anything to do with the films or be associated with them in any way.

Grand High Pubah said...

You know Robert, this whole post and comments just make me happy inside. And, laugh a little too, on the outside. I wouldn't knock you for being in a marching band unless it was decorated with rainbows and you were playing the Wizard of Oz theme, and the fact that it is just too easy for me to do; but please don't compare band to sports. Each are respectable in their own rights, but not comparable. Now, did you say you played the rusty trombone, or the skin flute?

Rob Rosenblatt said...

Y'know, I let this post slide. It's typical of someone who's never marched. It's a lot of physical and mental work to perform in a marching band. And in a lot of schools, you can actually letter in marching band. I know a guy who played football and was in the marching band in high school. I'll see if I can get him over here to back either one of us up.