The Pocahontas County High School Marching Warriors return to the field of competition Saturday at the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Conference, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
This is only the second time the band has qualified for the competition.
“There’s going to be about twenty-two bands and these are bands that are not just from West Virginia,” band director Bob Mann said. “Tournament of Bands is a conference that is spread out as far north as Maine and goes as far south as West Virginia. We’re going to see a lot of bands from different states. We are going to be the lone band from West Virginia that’s in this division, in this class.
“I’m kind of giddy knowing that we qualified,” he continued.
For the show, the PCHS band has traveled back in time to the 1980s, playing songs from the rock musical “Rock of Ages.”
“We’re playing some Night Ranger, “Sister Christian,” David Lee Roth’s “Paradise,” Mann said. “Then it goes into Motley Crue’s “Nothing but a Good Time.” That’s all in our opener. The second tune is a mash up. We call it Jukebox Hero but towards the end of it, it has “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” by Joan Jett incorporated into it. It’s neat.
“We close with a slow tune because the concept behind the show is, a small town girl comes to the city, city boy meets the girl and they fall in love so the show ends with a little bit of romance,” Mann continued. “It opens with “More Than Words,” and we have a nice little woodwind quartet to feature that. Then the medley transitions into “Heaven Isn’t Too Far Away.” We get to feature two seniors, Danielle Cain and Miles Goodall, who is playing electric guitar on the sideline. He sets down the guitar and does a dance with Danielle.”
Mann said the show has really involved the parents, mainly because they lived when these songs were new and popular.
“These parents are like ‘we grew up to this music,’” he said. “All the kids know this stuff because their parents play it and they admire it.”
To make sure the show rocks in pure 80s style, Mann added a new element to the band – a pit.
“We have a sideline pit that consists of a small rock band,” he said. “We’ve got a piano synthesizer, electric guitar and electric bass. It adds a thickness to our smaller ensemble sound. It’s pretty awesome.”
Along with being a competition, the trip is also a reward for the students with a side trip to Hershey Park.
Mann attributes the success of the band partially to the seniors who have dedicated themselves to having a great season, and to his assistants who help him guide the band.
“I’ve got seven wonderful seniors,” he said. “They came to me and said they really wanted to stay after school to work on some things. There was one band practice where our color guard coordinator Jean Boix and Mark Baum, who works with the pit, they helped supervise an evening practice. The following day, I came in and we worked for two hours after school on an early dismissal day. These kids are so driven.”
Manns wife, Samara, also helped as the new unofficial assistant band director when Rick McLaughlin had to resign to focus on the music programs at Marlinton Elementary and Marlinton Middle schools.
“We would not have had nearly the success without those volunteers,” Mann said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
The band will leave for Hershey, Pennsylvania, Friday and return Saturday night.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org