MOUNT VERNON — Combining high steps, classic and modern tunes, expert coordination and funky choreography, the fourth annual Yellow Jacket Showcase of Bands displayed all of the best parts of local marching bands. The festival brought the marching bands into the limelight at the Yellow Jacket Stadium Energy Field Saturday evening.
Participating in the festival were local favorites, hosts Mount Vernon High School, Fredericktown High School, East Knox High School and Utica High School, as well as bands from outside of the county area with West Holmes High School and the culminating performance by the University of Dayton marching band.
This festival aims to bring together non-competition show bands, MVHS band director Megan Aubihl explained, in order to showcase the hard work and dedication of their students.
“Marching band is a lot of work,” Aubihl told the News. “The students not only play music, but they also march at the same time and memorize every song. It takes a lot of coordination and skill. This festival gives community members a look inside the classroom and shows what these students can do.”
Each band performed three or four songs, which is roughly the length of their football game half-time show, Aubihl said. However, the festival is less restrictive for time than the games, giving each band 15 minutes, an increase from 10 minutes allotted on Friday nights.
As the hosts of the festival, MVHS opened the festival with their pregame show, which included the National Anthem, with a presentation of colors by the Knox County Career Center JROTC, as well as the Alma Mater.
East Knox performed first, with a band that has roughly doubled in size, according to band director Elijah Henkel, which he credited to the dedication of the students in the program.
“It’s been about a doubling season, and every year I’ve been here it’s increased,” Henkel said. “Next year we have the option to double the double, so we have the possibility to get up to 80 kids. I can’t take all the credit, it’s the kids. They’re the ones that decide to stay and decide to grow this program. There was a time when I had 10 kids playing instruments and now we’re here.”
Henkel explained that the process for creating the half-time shows begins in March each year with music selection, with rehearsals starting in May and band camp in July. The band continues to practice through the season, he said, with every Thursday and Friday night the band is out there on the football field.
They performed their Beatles themed half-time show, with song selections of “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Day Tripper,” “Hey Jude” and “Can’t Buy me Love.”
“I try to do different music for the kids to get a taste of a little bit of everything,” he said. “I want to make sure they’re getting a diverse selection.”
Utica High School followed East Knox, beginning with a raucous rallying cry of “I love band,” from its students. That love for and dedication to the art of marching band is what prompted the band to join the festival, director Michael Dean explained.
“In this country, in this day and age, sports are the only thing it seems people pay attention to,” Dean said. “But we need to keep the arts alive, in any way we can.”
The music selections for UHS center on one theme each year, Dean explained, with past selections ranging from older, classic rock, like Paul Simon, to even Fall Out Boy. He said it’s important for him to educate the students on diverse music selections, while also making time to include some of the music they know.
UHS performed their modern pop/rock show with “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Something Just Like This,” by Chainsmokers and Coldplay and “Believer” by Imagine Dragons.
Fredericktown High School brought in some funky choreography to offset their performance, including a moment when the entire band went down into the splits, prompting loud cheers from fans. The choreography is mostly student led, director Katie Metz told the News.
“We have four dance commanders and I put them in charge,” Metz said. “We give them a recording of the drum break and say ‘here you go, come up with a dance.’ And they just come up with all of the dance moves, and we do four shows, so they come up with all of them.”
For their first marching band festival performance this season, Metz explained that they chose their favorite show to showcase. Although no longer a competition band, Fredericktown does participate in many marching band festivals, including next week’s New Albany festival.
They performed a wicked rock show, with selections including “Hammerhead” by the Offspring, “All American Nightmare” by Hinder and “Bully” by Shinedown.
The West Holmes Marching Knights additionally performed a selection of marching band favorites, which included “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, “Shout it Out” from the movie “Drumline” and Green Day’s “American Idiot.”
The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets performed as the final high school band with their classic 80s rock selections “Take on Me” by Aha!, “Jenny (9867-5309)” by Tommy Tutone, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Any Way You Want It” by Journey.
The final performance of the evening came from The University of Dayton ‘Pride of Dayton’ marching band. The band actually reached out the MVHS to participate in the festival, Aubihl said, as they were in the area for a performance.
“We always try to go on a trip each year,” explained assistant band director Jim Leslie. “And we played a football game in Granville last night and we were at the (Columbus) zoo today. We try to do a little recruiting, let people know about us as well.”
The University of Dayton brought the energy of the stadium up with their performance of some of Bruno Mars’s greatest hits, including “Finesse,” “24k Magic,” “Runaway Baby,” “Just The Way You Are” and “Marry You.”
The evening raised money for the Mount Vernon Music Boosters, Aubihl explained, with ticket sales, concessions and a 50/50 raffle going towards fund for trips, as well as the general fund, which funds instrument repairs and uniforms. The uniforms are in demand, Aubihl said, as the band is continuously growing and she now needs 15 new uniforms.
The Boosters funded participation plaques for each participating band, which were presented following The University of Dayton’s performance.