26th Annual Blue Devil Invitational
Oct. 1, 2011
Lebanon High School, Lebanon, TN
This is the second year I’ve announced the Blue Devil Invitational. I enjoy it because it’s different from HGI. This is a reverse division competition, where the bigger bands play first. The competition is done this way so the bigger bands have a chance to actually watch some of the smaller bands. In a “regular” competition, the bigger bands play later and therefore don’t get to see the smaller bands who perform before them. I think it’s a great concept.
One of the other differences between this contest and HGI is Band-O-Grams. These are little messages that family and friends write out for members of the band, and then for a dollar I get to read them over the P.A. system. It was weird last year since I had never done that at HGI, but by the end of the night I was kind of getting into it.
I’m planning on taking the same approach to this write-up that I took to my HGI write-up: show observations, but no performance judging. Sure, I’m the announcer, but I’m also a fan. I’m here to enjoy the 32 (!) competing bands and the Lebanon Marching Blue Devils, who will be performing in exhibition.
I’ve decided I’m not going to complain about electric instruments during this competition. It’s not my thing, but I understand that shows and performances evolve. If it fits, more power to you.
There were two problems that affected scheduling, one major, one just a headache. The headache concerned Hendersonville’s equipment truck. The buses and kids got to the contest alright, but their equipment truck decided to break down. One of the bands in Class 3A had to drop out, so Hendersonville was rescheduled to perform in their slot. Easy peasy Japanesey.
The more serious issue, though, concerned the Oakland, Tenn. High School Band. One of their busses was involved in a head-on collision with a Dodge Durango on the way to the contest. The driver of the Durango was killed, and the bus driver came away with both legs and ankles broken. A handful of kids were checked out at the hospital, but they were all released and sent home. Click the links for more detailed reporting.
First up was the Dickson County High School Marching Band from Dickson, Tenn. These guys were at HGI, and the beginning of their show seemed a tad different. Maybe I was announcing over it then, but I don’t remember the breathy, electronic moaning as the band marched onto the field. It set the mood pretty well.
After the impromptu break, the Smyrna High School Marching Band from Smyrna, Tenn. took the field. This was the first of today’s Elvis-inspired shows. The trumpet trio during Jailhouse Rock was great, and this was a fun show.
The Wilson Central High School Marching Band from Lebanon, Tenn. was next. They were the first band to throw me for a bit of a loop. The band stayed lined up along the back field while the guard pranced and played mid-field. It took me just a second to realize that since the field commander was set, the band must be too. It was a nice and different effect, though.
The Waverly Central High School Marching Band from Waverly, Tenn. performed a jungle-themed show. They had some elaborate props to set up that allowed me to get some Band-O-Grams announced. With the pyramid they had set up, I almost expected a ritual sacrifice to be performed. I liked the savage, spear-wielding guard. That was pretty clever. I think this is the first time I’ve heard Jungle Boogie performed as a marching song and not a pep-band number.
The Sycamore High School Marching Band from Pleasant View, Tenn. took the field next. So far, these guys have the most vocal supporters.
The Coffee County High School Red Raider Band from Manchester, Tenn. was next, and all I could think about was how cold the guard must have been. No sleeves, bare shoulders and upper-back and chest…it was a pretty chilly fall day. It probably helped, though, that they were constantly running around the field.
The Lawrence County High School Big Gold Machine from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., performed a show entitled “It’s About Time,” just chock full of pop and rock songs with time in the title. At one point the guard was carrying some giant pendulum-y clock things. They looked cumbersome. Good show, but it ended on a weird note.
The Giles County High School Band of Gold from Pulaski, Tenn. performed a show similar to the one Beech performed at HGI. There was a noticeable lack of field props, though, and I do enjoy an uncluttered field. I’ve got to commend the drumline here. They were pretty damn good.
The Rockwood High School Marching Band from Rockwood, Tenn. had baton twirlers. I don’t see this often in high school marching bands. They were basically wearing a one-piece bathing suit with tights and ballet slippers. As I said earlier, it was not a warm day. For a smaller band, these guys had a decent sized brass section.
The Greenbriar High School Marching Bobcats from Greenbrier, Tenn. performed a show full of imagination, with the pieces Imagine, With Imagination, Pure Imagination and Land of Make Believe. Muscially, that was an interesting spread. Oh! And look! Another baton twirler! And the show ended with the baton on fire! That was cool.
Class 4A was closed out by the Forrest High School Rocket Band of Blue from Chapel Hill, Tenn…and they were interrupted by a train. This was the Mortal Kombat vs. Spartacus show from HGI. I remember these guys putting on a good show at HGI, and they didn’t disappoint here.
The Marshall County High School Marching Band from Lewisburg, Tenn. opened up Class 3A with their Latin-themed show that I remember from HGI. I’m more okay with the electric guitar, and it helped that the kid playing it was pretty good. His solo at the beginning of Spain was pretty nice, and I don’t remember it from HGI.
The Portland High School Panther Band from Portland, Tenn. took the field next, and I really liked the formation they began their show with. From up in the press box it looked like a badge, and they opened with a really good arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” The guard’s little tutus were hideous, but when they ran around with the “flaming” flags, it was a really good image of fire. And I liked that these guys didn’t have any props on the field, but they did a great job of conveying their theme. Red, yellow and orange streamers on the bells in the pit. Flames painted on the drums. The previously mentioned guard tutus. And y’know, the arrangement of “Light My Fire” was pretty great. I loved the little woodwind ensemble.
The Lincoln County High School Marching Band from Fayetteville, Tenn. was next, and they had a similarly themed show about fire, but this was instrumental music instead of rock and roll selections. They had a baton twirler too, but no actual fire. I think they missed the boat on that one.
The Northeast High School Eagle Pride Marching Band from Clarksville, Tenn. played the exact same show as Smyrna. I’m assuming the marching show was different since the bands are different sizes. I liked the field commander’s Elvis-inspired outfit.
Because of previously mentioned equipment truck troubles, the Hendersonville High School Band of Gold from Hendersonville, Tenn. performed next. This was the third time I’d heard this show, and it was better each time. It did seem a little unfair to have the big band in the middle of 3A performances, but truck troubles, whattaya gonna do? I never knew that Michael Buble did a version of the Spider-Man theme song. I’m going to have to look for that. Since this was my alma mater, I was pulling for these guys. I don’t have to be impartial, do I?
The Mt. Pleasant High School Tiger Marching Band from Mt. Pleasant, Tenn. was next with an all-Journey show. I felt slightly bad for them, performing behind the larger Hendersonville Band, but they held their own. I wonder, is Journey more popular because of Glee, or is their popularity holding and I’m just noticing them more?
Closing out Class 3A competition (Yay! Dinner break!) was the Glencliff High School Marching Colts from Nashville, Tenn. I liked that this smaller band was staying somewhat compact on the field. They weren’t all spread out. I thought it kept their sound tight and focused.
The competition picked back up with Class 2A and the DeKalb County High School Fighting Tiger Band from Smithville, Tenn. This was yet another Spanish-themed show. Nothing at all wrong with it, but a lot of times when there are a bunch of similar shows, they tend to bleed together in the memory.
The Stewart County Marching Rebel Band from Dover, Tenn. was next with a “Cinematic Magic” show. They interrupted my announcing with the Fox theme, but that’s okay. It was a good way to open the show. They’ve got a screamer in the mix that was perfect. She’s got a future in horror movies, I think.
Next up was the Cheatham County Central High School Marching Band from Ashland City, Tenn. They put on a pretty good James Bond show, but they probably had the coldest-looking guard. C’mon, people. Your season will end in the fall. It’ll be chilly. Give your guard members sleeves and leggings.
The Kenwood High School Marching Band from Clarksville, Tenn. performed their Danny Elfman show next, complete with Edward Scissorhands as the field commander. That was probably the most intricate field commander outfit I’ve seen. There were straps that have to be dealt with, what I’m hoping is a wig, and a full-face make-up job. I was impressed at HGI, and I was still impressed here. My only complaint about this show had to do with when the kids were setting the lines before the show started. There was a lot of time spent by the three guard girls getting their flags in the right spots. Could you have maybe set the lines then? That would have saved a bit of time.
The Hillsboro High School Marching from Nashville, Tenn. was next. This was another Danny Elfman show. At least in the beginning the music is different, which was good. I’m glad this wasn’t like the two identical Elvis shows.
The Fairview High School “Sound O’ Gold” Marching Band from Fairview, Tenn. was next with a Superman show. I will always be partial to Superman, Batman or any comic book themed show. These guys, for such a small band, did a great job with the classic themes. I was also very impressed with the little guard girl playing bass guitar on the sidelines.
The White House Heritage High School Band of Patriots from White House, Tenn. took the field next with a patriotic show. They used a voiceover. I’ll concede to the electric instruments, but I still don’t like the voiceovers, especially when they’re over the instruments. Other than that it wasn’t a bad show. I was very impressed that the entire band put down their instruments and played piccolos.
Opening the Class 1A bands was the Upperman High School Regiment of Black from Baxter, Tenn. Wow, trumpets. Wow. THAT was some hip playin’.
The Westmoreland High School Marching Eagles from Westmoreland, Tenn. took the field next with their “Best of the Jackson 5” show. There was a jack-of-all-trades girl who marched clarinet, did a bit in the pit, and even used a flag. Kudos!
The Trousdale County High School Marching Yellow Jackets: First Division from Hartsville, Tenn. took the field with a tribute to TV. I loved it as soon as I heard the name of the show…and they opened with the Simpsons? That was great! And I’m pretty sure it was a new addition. I didn’t remember hearing that at HGI, but I did remember enjoying the A-Team theme. Also, I thought that when they played the Incredible Hulk Theme, they should have just marched off the field. That would have been a great ending.
The Donelson Christian Academy Wildcat Marching Band from Nashville, Tenn. was next with a “Spy Show.” Themes from James Bond, Mission Impossible and the Pink Panther were well performed. Ah, and apparently “Soul Bossa Nova” is the Austin Powers theme. Nice. And I was mesmerized by the field commander’s sparkly gloves.
The Watertown High School Purple Tiger Band from Watertown, Tenn. performed a show celebrating 100 years of Watertown High. It was at this point that I got backed up with Band-O-Grams and was having a more difficult time actually paying attention to the bands. I was making sure I wasn’t going to get tripped up by any misspellings (it was amazing how many words were absolutely butchered) or hidden innuendos.
The Northwest High School Viking Marching Band from Clarksville, Tenn. closed out Class 1A competition with the music of Louis Armstrong. I was a little mad at the field commander, who had sort of a cocky, non-salute to me. C’mon dude, show some respect. ;)
The Marching Blue Devils of Lebanon High School from Lebanon, Tenn. closed out the evening with an exhibition performance. It was incredible, and I’m glad I got to hear it. The kids did such a great job during the day working whatever jobs they were assigned in order to keep the competition running smoothly, and then they spent 10 minutes performing their hearts out in from of all the kids who competed throughout the day, plus various friends and family from all over Tennessee.
One other thing of note. At this competition, a special trophy called the Spirit Trophy is presented. Each performing school has a jar at the Spirit Table. The school that puts the most money in their jar by the end of the night wins the trophy, and all of the money is donated to the American Heart Association in honor of a student who died of a heart attack at the competition a few years ago. This year, all of the bands ended up diverting all of their donations into the Oakland jar, allowing them to win the trophy even though they weren’t in attendance because of the wreck. And what’s equally as awesome, they ended up raising around $2,500 dollars, almost equal to the total amount raised the previous four years. Sometimes I have doubts about teenagers…then they do something like this. It just makes you proud.
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!