The Forrest Rocket Band of Blue hosted the First Annual Middle Tennessee Small Band Championship on Saturday and by all indications the event was a huge success for band director Billy Bateman and Forrest High School.
The day-long event drew thousands of fans to Chapel Hill to witness mesmerizing performances from some of the best bands in Middle Tennessee.
“The event was absolutely awesome,” Bateman said after the award ceremonies. “The crowd was super and all the bands performances were outstanding. The atmosphere was second only to the Division I State Championship.”
The competition consisted of 20 bands from the mid-state that came together for the first-ever event for Middle Tennessee. In the past, competitions were held for west and east Tennessee, but not in the mid-state until Bateman organized the event for trial last year. The success of last year’s event created the surge for the continuance of the competition in Chapel Hill that will now be an annual championship.
The Milan Marching Bulldogs, second place finishers to Harpeth last year, claimed the overall title over Beech, Cascade, Goodpasture, and Hillwood to take home the monstrous trophy and the title of 2007 Middle Tennessee Small Band Champions.
Daylong performances full of regalia and excellence
The Class A bands took the field at noon with the Westmoreland Marching Eagles sending the crowd back to Abbey Road with the Beatles as the black and red clad squad played selections from the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
The Marching Yellow Jackets from Trousdale County were next and wowed the audience with some classic tunes from the Phantom of the Opera.
The Richland Raider Marching Band, under the direction of band director Jeff Garcia, performed a great rendition of songs from the Civil War era. Johnny Come Marching Home, Battle Cry of Freedom, and The Glory were all executed perfectly with the feel of the bygone era permeating throughout the stadium.
The Hickman County Scarlet Regiment confidently took the field and Tim Burton would have been proud of the series of songs from his movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” that was put forth for the enjoyment of the spectators.
The eventual Class A champions, Donelson Christian Academy were next and they went whimsical as well, performing some of the favorites from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
The Eagleville School Marching Band was the last of the Class A schools to perform and our neighbors to the east did a fantastic job with a program of South American tunes, titled a Brazil Fantasy.
Class AA turns up the heat
The competition between Class AA bands started around 2 p.m. and Livingston Academy took the honors as the Spirit of the Wildcat band treated the crowd to some rock n’ roll with their British invasion compilation entitled The Knights of British Rock. The Who’s “I Can See for Miles and Miles”, Jim Morrison and the “House of the Rising Sun”, The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin”, and “Too Much Time on My Hands” by Styx got the beat hopping with all the patrons of the event.
The Pride of the Wildcats band from Waynesboro took over and with the leadership of the beautiful Field Commander Caitlin Estes, the black and gold troupe’s rendition of Pirates of the Caribbean emitted visions of Jack Spade dancing on the deck of the Flying Dutchman.
The Collinwood Marching Trojans in their familiar green attire opened the big top with a great performance of Cirque du Soleil songs.
Marshall County High School, under the direction of first year director Elizabeth Gray did a great job of putting together Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” as the Class AA portion of the program came to a close.
Gray, a 2006 graduate of McGavock High School has only been with the MCHS program for a little over two months and said, “We are still about one month behind everyone else, but these kids pulled it together and got the job done. I think they performed very well today. I love it here at MCHS and these are a great group of kids.”
Class AAA Bands perform variety of great tunes
The Moore County Marching Band went to higher ground, performing some of Stevie Wonders greatest hits in their R&B routine as the Class AAA bands took to the arena.
Jazz was king as Somerville’s Viking Pride Marching Band from Fayette Academy performed four high-energy tunes.
The Hillwood High School Band, from West Meade in Nashville was strong again, belting out and synchronizing “Thresholds of the Imagination” for the packed house.
The last of the AAA squads to take the field was the Waverly Central Tiger Marching Pride Band who spiced the afternoon up with the “Sounds of Spain”.
Class 4-A performances
Adamsville led off the 4-A portion of the program and came out geared up in their ensemble called, “The Machines.”
The Beech High School Buccaneer Band was one of the favorites coming into the event and did not disappoint the crowd as they took to the high seas in a fresh performance entitled, “The Winds of Poseidon.”
The Champion Band from Cascade High School put on one of the best performances of the afternoon when the Wartrace group cascaded sounds of the neo-circus Cirque du Soleil into a fading lit sky.
“Fear” was struck into the hearts of many as the purple clad Milan Marching Band took center stage. Their compilation of four phobia tunes, along with the frightening face make-up worn by the members of the color guard was a perfect ending to the twilight October sky.
Band of Blue, Seigel Stars nail exhibition performances
As is protocol at band competitions, the host school is not allowed to compete, but they do perform an exhibition to honor the fans and their fellow band members for their dedication.
The Forrest Rocket Band of Blue, along with a surprise visit from the 179-member band Seigel Stars from Murfreesboro, would fill the exhibition card while the judges pondered and tabulated the results of the main competition.
When Megan Rhody, band director at Seigel High School heard the competition was being held in Chapel Hill, she called Bateman and asked if they could perform an exhibition. Seigel is in the big band section for competitions and could not participate for a title in Chapel Hill.
The Stars arrived in four school buses and a tractor trailer full of equipment and covered the playing field at “The Rock” as they serenaded the night with a flavorful mix called “The Persis Project.”
With the crowd still abuzz from the Stars magnificent performance, the hometown Rocket Band of Blue took the field in their usual gallant and focused style and treated the cheering crowd to the operatic sounds of “The Phantom of the Opera”.
With the last sounds of resounding percussion gone from the air, and the ear still fresh from the day’s serenade, the time for the final results had come and the bands lined up on the field to receive their awards.
One by one, the preliminary awards were handed out and when the final vote was tallied and announced to the crowd, Milan had won it.
Milan Band Director Keith Brown was as jubilant as his high school band members and somewhat surprised as he said, “It was a surprise, this is actually the first time this year that we have actually clicked. We have been on fall break and have not been sharp, but the band stepped up today.”
“I am especially proud of our guard. They have a new instructor, Cassie Venters, one of my old band members and they have really come together under her.”