Thundering Herd makes beautiful music

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

As long as there is the breath of life remaining in each of us, there will be music to help us feel better, provide an escape from life's rigors, open doors from the past, and give talented musicians a chance to share their gifts with the world.

On Saturday in Chapel Hill, the Forrest Rocket Band of Blue hosted the 5th Annual Middle Tennessee Small Band Championship (MTSBC) up on the "Rock" and the beautiful fall day's air was filled with binding riffs, sweet rhythms, and a kaleidoscope of colors serenading from the 17 invited high school marching bands, plus a rousing exhibition from the hosts.

In the end, the Station Camp Thundering Herd went way back in musical time, wowing the huge crowd with a compilation of Beethoven classics that was crisp, superb, and beautiful.

The panel of six judges agreed, awarding the Thundering Herd from Gallatin top honors for the second time in three years.

Station Camp Band Director James P. Waters said, "This is the best playing band we have ever had; they are not all that old, but they do very good work. I have been pleased with them all year, they are a great bunch of kids."

Waters added, " We really like coming over here to Chapel Hill, it's a very nice contest and so well run and so well organized. It's just a pleasure to bring a band into this environment."

Some of the other outstanding performances throughout the day included Trousdale County's Tunes from TV Land, Moore County's Rockin' Your Soul with a bumping rendition of Proud Mary, Giles County's United We Stand patriotic program, Cascade's ancient tale of Spartacus, and the Marshall County High School Tigerland Band's Latin Sketches.

To the delight of the crowd, MCHS senior guitar player Seth Brannon turned in an awesome last performance with the Tigerland Band, wailing on his electric weapon, while picking away with Latin soul on his acoustic instrument.

Brannon said after the performance, "My father always told me to go out and be a performer whenever I go to play and that is what is what I have been trying to put out every performance."

"It was a good day, an overall good day," said Brannon. "It was pretty much seamless. It feels like all the hard work we put in finally paid off."

MCHS Field Commanders Alexius Weems and Marilyn Mendoza earned top honors in Class AAA, guiding the troupe magnificently throughout the program and the Visual Ensemble/Color Guard was in step the entire way and their reward was the number one spot in the class.

Tigerland Band Director Alex Sears, in his second year at the helm decided that this would be MCHS's last performance of the year because he felt they were not quite ready for the Division II State Tournament.

Sears began the Latin program compilation at band camp in July and had a tough job this year with 12 eighth graders joining the band at key musical places, but was extremely pleased with the final performance and all the hard work put forth the entire season by his students.

Sears said, "They have worked really hard starting back in July, we had rehearsals two days a week during the school year, a couple of Saturday contests and this was our last one here in Chapel Hill and they really went out and had a great performance."

"The crowd really got in to it and I think we got in to it too," said Sears. "This was the best performance we have given all year in a contest and I am glad the kids went out on a high note."

Marshall ended up with an overall second place in Class AAA with Glencliff winning top honors.

Two of the individual songs that stood out amongst the rest were the knockout rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" by the Trenton Peabody Band and the Big Gold Machine from Lawrence County, who presented the listeners with a chance for some inner reflection as they performed Jim Croce's masterpiece, "Time in a Bottle."

Station Camp also won the Division III and Best of the Best in Percussion, Lawrence County won Division II and Best of Best Guard award, Peabody earned number one in Division I, and Trousdale County won the hardware for the top Field Commanders, Vincent Copley and Peyton Johns.

Forrest Band Director Billy Bateman said about the day's events, "This is absolutely wonderful. We have worked hard to produce a band here people would be proud of and now we have a contest they are also proud of. People love to come here and you can tell they have a good time and that is what it is all about."