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Marching bands to converge on Statesboro High for battle

Schools to participate in festival, championships

Marching bands to converge on Statesboro High for battle

Marching bands to converge on Statesboro High for battle

The Statesboro High School Blue Devil...

Thirteen bands will travel to Statesboro from as far as Perry and Kingsland and as near as Brooklet to compete Saturday in the 37th East Georgia Marching Band Festival and Championships.
Statesboro High School’s Marching Blue Devils Band, which hosts the event, will cap it with an exhibition performance. The festival is a working opportunity for the 98-member Marching Blue Devils, plus parents and other supporters in the SHS Band Boosters.
“We couldn’t do it without all of our students and all of our band boosters helping out,” SHS Band Director Lee Collins said. “Our students work at everything from stamping hands at the gate to meeting the band directors and being their liaisons to show them around the school.”
Student liaisons make sure directors know where their bands are supposed to be, and when to be there, for warm up and show time. They also try to get them anything they need. The logistics are complex for a battle of the bands, which opens at 1:30 p.m., concludes at 9:30 p.m. and involves around 1,000 high school students and their fans.
Other SHS band students serve as liaisons for the eight judges. These comprise five band judges plus one judge scoring each band’s color guard, another judge for majorettes and dance, and one who rates the drum major.
The event is both a festival and a competition. In the festival portion, a band receives judges’ comments and ratings of good, excellent or superior. In the competition, bands are ranked according to numeric scores. A band can opt to participate in just the festival and not compete. But this year, all bands, including those performing in the opening festival, have chosen to compete in the championship round.
Bands who have signed up range from Class A to Class AAAA. In this Georgia Music Educators Association-approved event, bands are not grouped by their schools’ athletic classifications, but by the number of brass and woodwind players. Statesboro High itself plays quad-A football, but has a triple-A band because 68 of the 98 marchers are winds players. Quad-A bands field 80-100 horns.
Regiment & Swarm
One of the biggest bands coming this year is the 144-member, quad-A Panther Regiment from Perry High School. This will be the regiment’s first time back since taking the East Georgia Marching Band Festival grand champion’s trophy home in 2010. Perry High Band Director Andy Hursey said he likes to skip a competition the year after winning it, and the school’s schedule kept the band away last year.
This year, the Panther Regiment is performing a show called “Madness” made up of big finales from symphonic works, including the 1812 Overture, the Hallelujah Chorus and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Perry’s marchers placed second in their classification Oct. 5 at the Superbowl of Sound in Carrollton, competing against tough bands from the Atlanta area.
So Hursey says his band is doing great with some difficult music and marching. But he still hopes to polish the performance before Saturday’s trip to Statesboro.
“We’ve really enjoyed this contest,” Hursey said. “The facilities are great and it’s run really well; no complaints at all. We look forward to going back to see if we’ll be able to repeat.”
The only other quad-A competitor on the schedule is the Camden County High School Band from Kingsland. Trophies will be awarded in each classification. But smaller bands sometimes win the overall grand championship.
In fact, the Southeast Bulloch High School Marching Band, also known as the Swarm, won the East Georgia Championships top trophy in 2011, judged against bands twice its size. Still classed AA and with a total marching force of about 80 students, the Swarm will motor the eight miles from Brooklet to Statesboro still psyched from an Oct. 5 best-in-show win at the Bulldog Brigade Invitational Marching Competition hosted by Thomson High School.
Southeast Bulloch’s show theme, “Off the Deep End,” seems similar to Perry’s “Madness.” But the SEB Swarm’s show is a nutty mix of mostly more recent music. Several of the tunes have “crazy” in their titles: “Crazy Train,” “Crazy on You.” The 1892 pop song “Bicycle Built for Two” – which would include the line “I’m half crazy” if the lyrics were sung – segues into Queen’s 1978 “Bicycle Race.”
Members of the dance line and the pit ensemble wear costumes suggesting a split personality.
“It’s kind of hard to describe, but the show is more or less all about whether or not we’re insane or we’re just different,” said Swarm Director Matt Olsen.
Southeast Bulloch band students look forward to competing once again in what is “almost a home show” hosted by their sister school, Olsen said.
Other nearby schools who will compete include Claxton High and Screven County High. The 2012 grand champion, five-A South Effingham High School, will not attend this year.
Blue Devils Show
Spectators will need to be at Womack Field around 9 p.m. to see and hear the Statesboro High Band’s exhibition performance.
It’s “Southern Suite,” the show performed in its entirety for first time at the Oct. 4 football game. The Marching Blue Devils keep step to the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man,” Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and a Lynyrd Skynyrd medley that includes “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.” The state song, “Georgia on My Mind,” popularized by Ray Charles, caps the suite.
The Skynyrd medley packs surprises, including a spinning sequence Collins describes as “tricky” and the “Free Bird” guitar solo hammered out on xylophone and marimba by junior Amy Presley and sophomore Simone Kirkland.
The SHS band, led by seniors Carina Kartchner, now in her second year as drum major, and Ben Lloyd, band captain, competed Saturday in the Coastal Empire Classic hosted by Effingham County High School. They will compete again Nov. 2 at South Effingham’s Marching Mustang Invitational. Also on the Blue Devils’ marching schedule is the Macy’s Holiday Parade, Dec. 20, at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando.
Saturday’s festival serves as major fundraiser for the band. Admission costs $7.

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