Bands show off during preview at Carson High School
By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE - Last Friday, bands all over the county faced off against one another, playing pep music in support of their football teams and presenting halftime shows.
On Saturday, they all took the field together.
An appreciative crowd attended the annual Rowan County Marching Band Preview Show at Jesse C. Carson's football stadium. It was a chance for all the county's marching bands to strut their stuff, and showcase the competition shows they've worked so hard on since the long, hot days of summer.
"These are your athletes, this is your game day," the announcer intoned at the beginning of the comfortably warm evening.
Here are some highlights of the event:
With a new director and a new attitude, the Salisbury High School Marching Band started the show under the direction of Sir Davis. Their field show, "Legends," began with "Hornet Fanfare" and ended with "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Their high-stepping and snazzy red, black and gold uniforms set a fun tone for the evening.
The East Rowan High School Marching Band presented a program of familiar hits under the title, "East Rowan Bandstand." Starting with the beloved melody from "American Bandstand," the band played chart-toppers from Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Michael Jackson. The band is led by Emily Davis.
Being a smaller band means that personnel have multiple responsibilities. Drum majors Melissa Greene and Sarah West not only took turns directing the band, but played instruments as well between leading songs, West on saxophone and Greene on tuba. It was impressive.
South Rowan High School students departed from the traditional marching band look, wearing Army fatigues for its show, "Liberty and Justice for All." Band members crept onto the field, unnoticed behind red and white panels that ultimately formed the American flag. Their show of patriotic music was dramatic and theatrical, complete with flirty USO girls and a choreographed battle scene in which the clever students used instruments as "weapons." Todd Whittington is band director.
"We've seen other bands do a military theme and we wanted to do it right," said sophomore Aaron Rousey, woodwind captain. "People at halftime actually listen to the shows. We've gotten great feedback. It's fun to do. It's a great show."
The West Rowan High School Marching Band chose "Rhythm and Blue" as its field show theme, playing a variety of rhythm and blues songs from multiple decades - everything from "Rhapsody in Blue" to "Boogie Wonderland."
While band directors agree that being in a marching band requires creativity, communication, critical assessment and commitment, West's director Daniel Trivette pushes his students toward independence. He has a student staff of 12 that takes care of everything but directing the band, he said.
In his seventh year at West, Trivette said he appreciated the opportunity for his band to appear at the preview show. "It's the only platform that exists solely for the bands," he said. "So much of what we do is about service to the community. This is the one event that the audience is here just to see us."
Trivette said his band had logged 100 hours of practice by the time school started in August.
"Marching band has pretty much made me who I am today," said West senior Caroline Wood.
The evening had turned to night by the time North Rowan High School Marching Band presented its show, "Conspiracy Theory." A half moon shone as band played mysterious and enigmatic music, under the direction of Andrew Howe and Keith Howe.
Finally, heat lightning coupled with camera flashes as the host band, Carson, capped the evening performances. The night sky added even more special effects to the band's ambitious field show, "Tribal Affect," which featured a huge sideline crew, brightly painted drums and even dancing and singing by students.
When the show was all over, Jeff Street, Carson's band director, was as drenched with sweat as the band students.
But he was satisfied with the evening's outcome.
"This was the best by far I've seen these bands at this point in the season," he said after the mass performance of "America the Beautiful." "I thought the energy here was awesome."
Street gave a shout-out to community members and countless parents for all the support to the county's bands.
"It was a good night for the kids," he said. "I am very happy."