Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What You Should Have Heard #74

2011 Hendersonville Golden Invitational – Sept. 17, 2011

Band, and as an extension marching band, was an integral part of my life growing up. Without it, I don’t know how I would have reacted or adjusted to life at a new school after moving in the middle of high school. I was lucky enough to be a part of two great families, and band helped pay for part of my college education. I’m a huge proponent of school band programs, and (even though I do get paid) I like to think of my announcing every year at HGI as my little way to give something back.


I’m going to just give a few observations without any performance critiques. I’m not a judge, so that’s not my job. I realize that every band works hard on their shows, and it’s not my job to tear them down. I’m a fan. These are just brief comments on what I liked or didn't like about a band's show, mostly focusing on the aesthetic quality and/or aspects of the show.


I’m also going to try and get a picture or two of each band, but I might get caught up in the shows and forget.


The only hiccup for the day was my lack of a walkie-talkie. I had to communicate to the gate attendant (Harley Tatarsky, a great guy, you should visit his shop) via hand signals. It worked. At the end of the night there was a tiny snafu with the award order, but that was cleared up once I remembered that I eventually DID get a walkie-talkie.


The first band of the day was the Kenwood High School Knights from Clarksville, TN, and they performed a Danny Elfman show, with the field commander dressed as Edward Scissorhands. Nice. Had I been thinking about it and not watching the show I would have gotten a picture of him.

Band #2 was the Dekalb County Fighting Tigers from Dekalb, TN. Their performance was called “España,” and while I didn’t recognize any of the pieces, I enjoyed it. I usually always prefer actual instrumental pieces rather than pop or rock songs. Those are fun, but I consider them to be more suited to pep band. The audience usually loves them, though, especially as halftime shows during high school football games.

And of course after that last comment, the Westmoreland High School Marching Eagles took the field and performed a “Best of the Jackson 5” show. They performed it well enough, but often the structure of a marching performance doesn’t lend to the energy that a good pop song can radiate.

Class D ended with the Trousdale County High School Marching Yellow Jackets from Hartsville, TN. Their show was titled “Tunes from TV Land,” a place very near and dear to my heart. The “A-Team”! Yay! Aww, “M.A.S.H.” I was a bit shocked when I learned the name of the theme song years ago. “Suicide is Painless” is not a very uplifting, sitcommy theme title.

The Hillwood High School Marching band from Nashville, TN started off Class C with a cryptically titled program called “Within.”

The White House High School Band of Pride from White House, TN has a giant throne sitting at the edge of their show. I’m disappointed that they don’t have a real giant to sit in it.

The Forrest Jr./Sr. High School Rocket Band of Blue performed selections from Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka.” I was slightly confused as the pit were setting up because two of the musicians (couldn’t tell if they were boys or girls) looked like Mortal Kombat characters while other looked like gladiators. That’s a fight I’d watch. The music was pretty good, too.

The Marshal County High School Marching Band closed out Class C competition by performing “Latin Sketches,” a show made up of Latin-influenced pop songs and instrumental selections. They had an electric bass and guitar in the pit. Although I’m not a fan of pop/rock songs in a marching competition, I’d prefer the guitar and bass parts be arranged for regular marching instruments. Sometimes electric instruments can make the woodwinds and brass seem inconsequential, and I’ve heard some great instrumental arrangements for “Conga.” Keep in mind that when I make a statement like that’s, it’s nothing but a personal preference. The music and performance were fine and well-played. I’d just rather hear more brass and woodwinds and less electric instruments. Also, I love “Spain.” I played that…in college?...in jazz band, and it was one of the pieces I had the most fun playing.

The Rossview High School Marching band from Clarksville, TN started off Class B competition with a show entitled “Pachelbel’s Rant.” It was interesting. It was an arrangement of Pachelbel pieces combined with classic rock songs, including “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Let It Be.”

The Spring Hill High School Marching Band won the award for most worrisome name for the announcer, with Anjali Sivaainkaran accepting the imaginary trophy. I think I did it justice, or at least got close…right?

It was at this point that I started to realize that I was falling behind in my picture taking. At least I got a shot of the Antioch High School Marching Band from Antioch, TN before they left the field. Granted, it was while they were marching off, but they hadn't left the field yet.

The Gallatin High School Pride of the Green Wave was next, and I must confess a bit of favoritism since they’re now my hometown band and Hendersonville (my alma mater) couldn't compete since they were hosting. Hopefully my kids will be marching in Gallatin's band when they start high school. I wish I would have thought to take some video of their performance. Personally, I loved it. I didn’t recognize any of the pieces, but it was great.

The Beech High School Buccaneer Brigade from Hendersonville, TN closed out Class B competition. Since I went to Hendersonville High School, they were always the rival band, but they performed admirably. I thought the recorded voice over was pandering a bit to the crowd, but it worked extremely well with the theme of the show. Again, I think something like this works better during the half-time show of a football game, not during a competition.

The Dickson County High School Marching Band kicked off Class A competition, and I think they missed an opportunity during the march onto the field. You had the little dude on the 50 yard line in his Civil War garb just marking time with a drum slung over his shoulder while two percussionists from back field played. Why not have the front-and-center guy do that? Also, and this is just me, but I really don’t think the keyboard adds anything. It just sounded like noise to me. Other than those two little things, though, I really enjoyed the performance. It may sound weird, but the thing I liked the most was the effect from the pit when the girl was scraping the end of a drum stick around a suspended cymbal. That was creepy and pretty awesome and much more effective than a keyboard.

The Oakland High School Marching Band from Murfreesboro, TN took the field next, and they opened with a keyboard solo. Do I need to keep repeating my objections to electronic instruments in marching band competitions? The marimbas that came in next followed by the full band, well, that was just spectacular. And I’ve always been a little odd, a little fond of atonal music (ask HHS band director Jeff Phillips about George Washington Bridge sometime), and I really enjoyed the opening piece. Good job, guys.

Okay, the Mt. Juliet High School Band of Gold from Mt. Juliet, TN threw me for a bit of a loop. No field commander. Kinda had to play that announcement by ear. Their show seemed more like a performance piece instead of a straight-up marching show. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m extremely impressed at the cohesion of the band without a field commander. I wonder what the thinking behind that was. Was it to prove that their band was so good that a field commander wasn’t necessary? I guess it worked. Truthfully, I hated the vocal stuff (it was disconcerting and WAY too loud), but I thought the inclusion of the violin was unique and a nice change of pace.

The Riverdale High School Marching Band from Murfreesboro, TN took the field next, and they performed Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” I marched to this my sophomore year of high school, and I’ve loved it ever since. They did an amazing job with it.

The final band to take the field for competition was the Grissom High School Tiger Band fromn Grissom, AL. The biggest was saved for last, and they put on a great show.

The hosts for the day, the Hendersonville Band of Gold, played at the end of the evening in exhibition, as did the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands.

One of the things I enjoy about announcing at this contest is the relaxed attitude at my end of the press box. Assistant director Chris Seger is an old friend of mine, and we spent a good deal of time catching up and cracking wise (yeah, I said it like that 'cause I'm OOOOLLLLLDDDDD). I also get to meet a couple of band seniors, usually the field commanders (only one this year), and I always leave feeling a little older than I actually am. But I do get to meet a couple of great kids, and then I have to worry about messing up their names if I'm announcing them before the exhibition. I almost did it this year (on purpose, 'cause I've done it before), but I figured that the field commander having her name pronounced correctly in front of a few hundred people should be a perk of her position.

The performances ended with the TSU Aristocrat of Band. Oh...wow. That was an amazing performance. I was worried about announcing them onto the field because all I had in front of me were the names of the directors, but that ended up being taken care of. When you watch this video, keep in mind that that is NOT my voice. Actually, that announcer was awesome, but I'm okay with you thinking it's me.

I'll be at the Blue Devil Marching Invitational (I hope that's the correct name. I couldn't find anything official online, although the band's webpage can be found here.) on Saturday, October 1. I was thrilled to add this second competition to my schedule, and I'm looking forward to see some more bands this year.

Probably for the rest of the month I’m going to whore myself out with an impassioned plea: click on the ads. PLEASE click on the ads. I don’t care if you exit it out of it immediately or actually look around. This isn’t some professional blog where I believe in the products I’m shilling. These are automatic ads placed by Google. But my experiment this weekend proved to me that I actually AM making a spot of cash whenever the ads are clicked. So I’m going to put this little disclaimer on the bottom of all my posts for the next month or so, and I hope you’ll take an extra 10 seconds after reading my blog to click on an ad. Thanks so much!

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