The Road to Grand Nationals-October 13, 2011
Filed under: — Dan Balash @ 10:45 am

This is a new feature based on survey requests for more Bands of America coverage.  What this will do is give a recap of each regional in a weekend, and a preview of the upcoming weekend’s regionals.  We hope you like it!

First, for those of you that may be wondering, what is Bands of America?  Bands of America (from here on out, BOA) hosts 7 weeks of regionals, and the Grand National Championships the second week in November.  Regional Championships are limited to 30 bands; 10 bands in finals, Super Regionals have 60 bands (12-14 in finals), and Grand Nationals is around 90 bands (30+ in semifinals, 12 make finals.)  We’ll have a better explanation of Grand Nationals in a couple of weeks.  Bands are separated into 4 classes, divided by school size, grades 10-12. (A: <600, AA 601-1250, AAA, 1251-1750, AAAA, >1751.)  Bands compete in class in preliminary competition for Music, Visual, and General Effect captions, and the top 10 scoring bands (regardless of class) are invited to perform in finals.  If a Class Champion does not make the top 10 scores, they are invited to perform in exhibition.

With all that said, let’s get to the recaps of the first 3 weeks of the BOA season.

September 24, 2011

Richmond, KY:

Illinois Bands in attendance: None.

Bands attending Grand Nationals: Adair County, KY (Class A), Bourbon County, KY (Class AA), Williamstown, KY (Class A), Beechwood, KY (Class A)

Every year of Bands of America events is entertaining, and this was a great start.  North Hardin, KY (“From the Water’s Edge”) won the Class AA title in prelims, and won their first Regional Championship since 2000, defeating very strong competition in the Class A Champion (Adair County (“Caged”), 2nd place in finals), and the Class AAA Champion, Lafayette, KY (3rd place in finals, “Shadows of Eternity”.)  Beechwood, KY (“Passage of the Warrior) placed 4th, and the surprise of the night was Bourbon County, KY (“Infinite: The Power of Rings” in 5th.  Bourbon County is a 3 time Class A National Champion, and no one expected them placing this low at the show, and they were the consensus pick to win.  Ooltewah, TN placed 6th, reprising their very popular 1996 “Dante’s Inferno” show, replete with trampolines on the field.  7th place went to Rockwood Summit, MO (“VOX”), 8th to Central Hardin, KY (“All in a Day”), 9th to George Rogers Clark (“The Trilogy” popularized by the Blue Stars in 2011 as well as Tarpon Springs in 2009), KY, and rounding out the top 10 was Williamstown, KY (“Upon a Winter’s Solstice).

Grand Nationals Outlook: Adair County has a very good shot to win their first Class A National Titles since 2007; however, Western, IN, Williamstown, Murphysboro and Beechwood will probably have something to say about that.  Bourbon County will more likely than not make semifinals, but a Class AA title doesn’t look very promising.


North Huntingdon, PA

Illinois Bands in Attendance: None.

Bands attending Grand Nationals: Norwin, PA

Only one band from this regional is attending Grand Nationals in 2011-Norwin, PA (Class AAA Champion, Grand Champion, “Salvation”.)  They are making their first trip to Grand Nationals since 1995, and will fight for a finals spot.  In 2nd place was Bridgewater-Raritan, NJ (AAAA Champion, “What’s Old is What’s New Again”.)  3rd place was won by James Madison, VA (“Fields of Gold.”)  4th went to Gateway, PA (AA Champion, “Simple Gifts.”)  5th was Clayton, NC (“Dark Angels).  6th went to Penn-Trafford, PA (“The Places You’ll Go), 7th, Trinity, PA (“Kaleidoscope), 8th, South Lakes, VA (“Genesis”), 9th, Brunswick, OH (“Home”), and 10th place went to the Class A Champion, Maplewood, PA (“Journal of a Soldier”).

Grand Nationals Outlook: Semi-high.  Norwin will finish high in semi-finals, fighting hard for a spot in finals, for the first time in 16 years.


October 1, 2011

Mason, OH

Illinois Bands in Attendance: Lincoln-Way East.

Bands Attending Grand Nationals: LWE, William Mason, OH, Centerville, OH, LaSalle, OH, Bellbrook, OH, Kings, OH, Bourbon County, KY, Dublin Coffman, OH, Sycamore, OH, Northmont, OH, Milford, OH.

Another good regional.  Centerville, OH (Class AAAA Champion, Grand Champion) won with a fan favorite show titled “Killer Queen.”  This show features 7 of the rock group Queen’s pieces, arranged well by Andrew Markworth.  2nd was Bourbon County (Class AA Champion), coming off of a lackluster performance with a much better one here.  3rd was Paul Laurence Dunbar (Class AAA Champion, “Shine”).  4th went to Lincoln-Way East (“unRavel”), 5th to William Mason (“A Winter’s Solstice”), 6th to Dublin Coffman (“Tug of War”), 7th to Northmont (“The Roaring Twenties”), 8th, Bellbrook (“Cornered”), 9th to Milford (“This is Us”), and 10th to Sycamore, OH (“Flight”)

Grand Nationals Outlook: Good. 5 semifinalists from last year attended this regional, and it could be 6 or higher this year.  Centerville, LWE, and William Mason all have a realistic shot at a finals spot.


Arlington, TX:

Illinois Bands in Attendance: None.

Bands attending Grand Nationals: As of now, none.

This outcome was kind of a shocker.  James Bowie (Class AAAA Champion) defeats L.D. Bell by .05, with an emotional first competitive performance after the death of their director, Bruce Dinkins, over the summer.  This was the first time Bell has lost to a Texas band not named Marcus since Grand National Semifinals 2006 (The Woodlands.)  3rd went to Richland (“The Diary.”)  4th went to Flower Mound, 5th to Mansfield Legacy (Class AAA Champion), 6th to Berkner, 7th to Keller, 8th to James Martin, 9th to Winston Churchill, and 10th to Hebron.  The Class A title went to Palestine, TX, and the AA title to Wakeland, TX.

Grand Nationals outlook.  Nonexistent.


October 8, 2011

Jacksonville, AL

Illinois Bands in attendance: None.

Bands attending Grand Nationals: Ravenwood, TN, Franklin, TN, Saint James School, AL

Another shocker here.  Father Ryan, TN (Class AA Champion) wins their first regional championship, beating Carlton J. Kell (a BOA powerhouse) by almost 3.5 points.  3rd place went to Franklin, TN (Class AAA Champion.)  4th was awarded to Ooltewah, 5th to Brentwood, TN, 6th to Hillgrove, GA, 7th to Mill Creek, GA (Class AAAA Champion), 8th to McGavock, TN, 9th to Hardin Valley Academy, TN, and 10th to James F. Byrnes, SC, making their return to BOA competition after a few years.  Oak Grove, AL was the Class A champion.

Grand Nationals Outlook: Iffy, at best.  Franklin has an okay shot at semifinals, Saint James School will have a hard time making semis out of Class A, and Ravenwood might be done.


Conroe, TX

Bands attending Grand Nationals: Claudia Taylor Johnson, The Woodlands, Lafayette

Marcus (Class AAAA Champion) continues their domination of L.D. Bell at the regional level, winning yet another regional championship.  3rd went to The Woodlands, 4th to Cedar Park (Class AAA Champion), 5th to Stephen F. Austin, 6th to Claudia Taylor Johnson, 7th to Lafayette, LA, 8th to Brazoswood, 9th to Ronald Reagan, and 10th went to Winston Churchill.  8 out of the 10 bands here in finals have made Grand National Finals within the past 5 years.

Grand Nationals Outlook: Not bad.  All 3 should make semifinals, possibly CT Johnson and The Woodlands in finals.


Pontiac, MI

Illinois Bands in attendance: Lockport, Victor J. Andrew, Naperville North, Lincoln-Way North

Bands attending Grand Nationals: Northmont, Rockford, Reeths-Puffer, VJA, Lebanon, Jenison, Grant

Harrison, GA (Class AAA Champion) travels a long way and defeats Plymouth-Canton, MI (Class AAAA Champion) for the title.  Reeths-Puffer (Class AA Champion) places 3rd.  4th goes to Jenison, MI, 5th to Northmont, OH, 6th Lockport (making their first ever finals appearance).  7th place went to Rockford, MI, 8th to Victor J. Andrew, 9th to Bellevue East, NE, and 10th to Ferndale, MI.  Lincoln-Way North and Naperville North placed 11th and 12th, respectively.  The Class A Champion was Godwin Heights, MI.

Grand Nationals Outlook.  Not bad.  If Marian is not Class AA this year, Reeths-Puffer will likely be the AA National Champion.  They play John Mackey’s Harvest: Concerto for Trombone with a great arrangement.  Jenison, Rockford, Northmont and Victor J. Andrew all have a very good shot as well.


October 15th, 2011

St. Louis, MO

This is always one of my favorite regionals.  With Broken Arrow, Marian Catholic, Union, Lake Park and William Mason all meeting up, this is a great preview of how Grand Nationals could end up.  This is Broken Arrow’s first competition, after debuting their 2011 program “Destiny Leaves You No Choice” at their invitational last weekend.  Union is performing a program entitled “Juxtaposition”, with some eclectic musical choices (What is Hip, Music for 18 Musicians, among other things.)  Mason looks to get back on track after a rather rocky 5th place finish at the Mason regional.  The other 10 spots are kind of up for grabs.  Lincoln-Way North and Lake Park both look to do well here, and Irondale, Rosemount, Eden Prairie, and East View all look to make Minnesota proud.  There’s bound to be 1-2 surprises here, as there always are here.


Akron, Ohio

Norwin and Centerville battle for first and second here, in what could be a preview of what’s to come at Grand Nationals between these two bands.  Fort Mill could play spoiler here, but it likely will not happen.   McEachern and Fayette County both travel from Georgia and both are expected to make finals.  Lake Orion represents Michigan, and a large contigent of Ohio bands are here as well.  Lincoln-Way West could make finals here as well.



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