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Pride of Pocahontas hits the road

The Pocahontas County High School Pride of Pocahontas marching band practices its Wild and Wonderful Western field show in preparation for the Mountain State Forest Festival competition coming up Saturday, October 7, in Elkins. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

They may be Warriors most of the time, but this year, the Pocahontas County High School Pride of Pocahontas marching band is channeling their inner cowboys and cowgirls for this year’s field show.

The band – which is 42 strong – has worked tirelessly to create an entertaining take on Hollywood westerns.

With renditions of “Magnificent Seven,” “Black Saddle,” “Rawhide” and “How the West Was Won,” the band puts the West in West Virginia as they take the field to perform.

So far, the band has competed in Keyser and are now setting their sights on the Mountain State Forest Festival Saturday.

“The competition is going to be a pretty big deal,” band director Bob Mann said. “There are nineteen bands performing and my alma mater – Marshall [University], the Marching Thunder – will be there in the parade also as the guest university band.”

Mann selected the theme of the show last year and the students have had the music since the end of the school year. They practiced on their own over the summer and spent a week at band camp to learn the field show.

“It’s just a celebration of westerns,” Mann said. “Westerns always have a good guy. You have a bad guy. You have themes of heroic deeds and dastardly deeds, and that’s what we are trying to convey musically on the field.”

The students are excited about the show and have a lot of fun on the field, while maintaining a strict focus on giving the best performance possible.

“In ‘Rawhide,’ we have one of the guard girls, she’s stealing a satchel from our tenor player, and then we have someone come in and snatch her up to jail,” senior Tiler Mortensen-Smith said. “Then throughout the rest of the song, it has the guard and drumline going head-to-head with each other. So, it’s like an action packed western.”

The students put a lot of work and time into band and really come alive on the field, especially when they have an audience. For them, it’s so much more than just a class, it’s a family and a way of life.

“[We do it] for the enjoyment of it,” senior Kayla Lester said. “It’s something that we like. For the music. We band together as one big family.”

“Plus the feeling of performing for a crowd of people who have never seen this before,” Mortensen-Smith added. “It’s a rush of excitement.”

The students band together – no pun intended – to create a cohesive show and the only time they ever argue is when asked to identify the best part of the band.

“Drumline is the best,” Max Krieps asserts.

“I think guard’s the best,” Mortensen-Smith said.

“No, it’s not,” Lester argued.

“Drumline has the most fun,” Krieps maintained. “More than we should.”

No matter what the students say, it’s obvious when they set foot on the field that the best part of band is all of it – the music, the students and the performance. Put them together and you’ve got an amazing show.

That’s why they encourage everyone to come see them perform.

“We’ve put in so much hard work and effort going down to the field every single day and running, re-running and running again the show,” Mortensen-Smith said.

Mann, who was a member of the Pride of Pocahontas when he was in high school agreed – the students have gone above and beyond to create a great show.

“One of the coolest moments was when I called a rehearsal on Labor Day,” Mann said. “I had a majority of the band make it up here and make it happen. It was really cool. We got a lot accomplished that day – both musically and rehashing the drill we learned at band camp.”

The band will perform in the Mountain State Forest Festival parade and field competition this Saturday in Elkins. For a schedule of events, visit www.forestfestival.com

The band will finish its season with the final home football game Friday, October 20, which is also senior night, and at the Region 13 Championship at Fairmont University Saturday, October 21.

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