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Local bands ready to take part in governor’s inaugural
Members of the Martinsville High School Marching Band perform while marching along the road near the school Thursday at Martinsville High School. Martinsville and Patrick County’s bands will perform Saturday during the inaugural parade for Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe in Richmond. (Bulletin Photo by Mike Wray)
The Martinsville High School and Patrick County High School marching bands are ready to perform in the state spotlight at Saturday’s inaugural parade in Richmond for Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe.
Martinsville band director Kevin Lewis hopes to inspire some younger students with the performance Saturday.
“I think as a director of any kind of program, you’re looking for ways to motivate your kids,” Lewis said. “You do that with whatever tools you have. For us, being able to participate in this parade and inspire younger students is that motivation.”
The 90 MHS band students will board two buses and leave the city around 6 a.m. Saturday, according to Lewis. The inauguration will begin at noon and the parade will follow immediately, he said.
There are 33 units in the parade, and each will stop briefly in front of the parade stand where dignitaries will be seated. Lewis estimated the parade will take an hour to an hour and 20 minutes in all, and then the students will board the buses again to return to Martinsville on Saturday evening.
Lewis, in his 15th year at Martinsville High School, is leading his band to an inaugural parade for the second time in his career.
“We played for the inauguration of Tim Kaine in 2006, but that was a unique set of circumstances because the capitol was being renovated,” Lewis recalled. “They went back to the first capitol of Virginia, Williamsburg, and held all the ceremonies there.”
Saxophonist Armonti Rountree said he is excited to see other bands. “It’s a great honor to be up there” performing for the new governor, he added.
The band will perform a patriotic medley of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” along with a little rock ’n’ roll in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which was part of the band’s fall’s program, according to Lewis.
Rountree said he is looking forward to playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” because it “sounds the best on saxophone.” He hopes to learn from the experience, too.
“I’m always excited to see other bands because that helps us improve ourselves as a band,” he said.
Drum major Virginia Crabtree, whose older sister Sarah was part of the Kaine inaugural parade, said she is excited to be leading the band up to the capitol. She noted how rare an opportunity it is to play in the parade.
“Some college bands like James Madison University are also going to be marching up there, so we’re up with the big dogs,” she said.
Lewis said he will encourage his students to savor every moment. “Our performance of the national anthem at the speedway (last fall), our upcoming trip to D.C. for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade there, this inaugural parade, these are all once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that any director or student would be proud to be part of,” he said.
Patrick County director Frances Stover shares that view.
“I think everybody is pretty excited — from the students actually in the band to the staff of the school,” she said. “Every day somebody new comes up to me in the hall asking about the trip, telling me how excited they are, so I think the whole Patrick County community is excited to know that we’re going to Richmond.”
Stover, who is in her first year teaching at Patrick County High School, hopes the college bands participating in the parade motivate her students.
“Hopefully there is a college band near us in line so the kids know what the potential is,” she said. “If they work hard here at the high school level in class, they can go on to college and be in a college band, too.”
Stover’s students have taken a short practice schedule in stride. That schedule was reduced by exams, SOLs, Christmas break and then bad weather.
Drum major Madi Heath seemed immune to stage fright.
“I’m not worried,” Heath said. “We’ve got some classics that are always good. It was hard to get ready only finding out a month ago. It’s been a challenge, but we’re ready for it.”
Patrick County will perform “Stars and Stripes Forever” as well as “America, the Beautiful,” according to Stover.
She said she is proud of her students and the statewide recognition they will receive Saturday.
“The inaugural committee enjoyed what we did on the field this fall and they chose to extend that invitation (to take part in the parade),” she said. “Not only is it a confidence boost for me, but it lets me know that my students are prepared for such a high honor.”
Both local bands will be looking to make an impact that Southwest Virginia can be proud of. As Lewis put it, “for the inaugural parade, you want to represent your school and your community well.”