Marching season was a whirlwind of events for the Pocahontas County High School Warrior Marching Band, but the group took it all in stride because, as band director Bob Mann puts it, “we are a force of nature.”
The band performed in four Tournament of Bands competitions this year, beginning and ending in Keyser, with stops at Preston County High School and the Mountain State Forest Festival thrown in the mix.
Along with competitions, the band also found time to perform at all the home football games as well as at the RoadKill Cook-off in Marlinton.
“That was the first time we ever did it,” Mann said. “It just worked out that we could go make an appearance at RoadKill Cook-off. We performed for the community which is something I’ve been wanting to do a lot more of.”
The Warriors went up against more than just other bands this season – weather was the biggest adversary it faced.
At the Forest Festival, the band was in line, waiting for its turn in the parade, when the sky opened up and the rain poured down.
“We stood in the lineup, and we waited and waited and then all of a sudden, we were getting ready to step out on the parade route, and we could see the rain coming at us,” Mann said. “I thought, ‘do we have time to run back to the bus?’ and then it hit us. Our kids are incredibly tough and resilient. I told them, ‘guys, we’re just as much a force of nature as that rain – let’s do this.’ So they were wet, but made it through the parade. It was pretty cool. We saw [superintendent] Terrence Beam in the parade route, so he was cheering for us real loud.”
Raindrops weren’t all the students were dodging, though.
“I almost ran over a few kids who were running out to get candy,” Kaitlyn Lester said of the parade.
Later that day, the band took the muddy field for the field show competition, but this time, they had their rain gear.
The rest of the marching season went off without a hitch and ended Friday as the band spread Christmas cheer at the annual Christmas parade in Marlinton.
Tournament of Bands encourages school bands to have a themed show and, this year, the Warriors did not disappoint. With a theme of love gone wrong, the band tapped into the emotions of falling in love, being done wrong and moving on after a break-up.
“Our show was called ‘Tones of the Heart,’” Mann said. “The opener was ‘Don’t go Breaking My Heart,’ the Elton John and Kiki Williams tune from the 80s. We went into Bon Jovi’s, ‘You Give Love A Bad Name,’ followed by a little interlude featuring our drum line performing ‘Piece of My Heart,’ a Janis Joplin tune. I made a quick arrangement of that this past summer. And then we closed with CeeLo Green’s ‘Forget You.”‘
Along with the story told by the songs, the color guard acted out the drama. The guard has two boys and five girls. A boy and girl start the show in love, then a second girl steals the boy away, and by the end of the show, the first girl realizes she is better off without the boy.
“It was meant to be a fun show and a very crowd-pleasing show,” Mann said.
The band placed second at three of the competitions, while the drum line took first place at one competition and the color guard won first place at another. The final competition at Keyser was the Tournament of Bands Championship, where the band was named Region 13, Division 2A Champions.
The band members enjoyed marching season and had fun competing and watching other bands perform.
“It was really cool to watch other bands,” Faith Johnson said.
“It’s kind of cool to watch them and see what ideas you can do next year,” Kevin Thompson agreed.
This year, the band set a goal and by the end of the season, the goal was exceeded.
“Our goal was to break eighty and so in our last show, we finally did it,” JoDee Friel said.
“TOB has a scoring system that is based on difficulty of show, difficulty of music and difficulty of drill,” Mann explained. “I wrote a difficult drill and I also had difficult music to match it. The kids did a really good job of executing the show. In TOB, if you break an eighty, you’re doing pretty good.
“The average score for a marching band is about seventy-five,” Mann continued. “We stayed around that realm and then we had plenty of time to prepare for our championship and we actually exceeded the goal and got an eighty-one.”
With marching season over, the band is now focusing on concert season, beginning with the Christmas show on Sunday, December 11, at 2 p.m. at the PCHS auditorium. The concert band, jazz band and choir will perform Christmas tunes.
“We’ll open with jazz band, the choir will perform, and then we’ll close with the concert band,” Mann said. “Concert band has over forty players. It’s been pretty cool. My first year here we had eighteen, so I’m thankful that band is popular and getting more interest year after year.”