17th Annual Band Showcase is Rousing Success



EL CENTRO – On a crisp fall evening at Central’s Cal Jones Field, high school bands from around Imperial Valley gathered for the 17th Annual High School Band Halftime Showcase. Students from Brawley, Calexico, Central, Imperial, Holtville and Southwest put on a show to remember, featuring a spectacular all-in-one group performance with all the bands.

The sponsors reiterated that the event was not a “competition” but a “showcase” of Imperial Valley’s bands halftime shows from the 2014 season. Rightfully so, since the schools would undoubtedly qualify in different categories ranging in size, style and type of performances if this were actually a competition.

Event hosts, The Great Spartan Band, both opened and closed the showcase. It began with a performance of the national anthem, directed by Drum Major Michael Garcia. At the conclusion of The Star Spangled Banner, all school bands methodically marched onto the field for an unprecedented performance. Over 700 musicians played the song Happy by Pharrell from the Despicable Me 2 movie soundtrack. It was a great concept with the power and volume filling the arena. Unfortunately, keeping that many musicians together is difficult to accomplish with only one practice.

The song did have three endings, but truthfully, it sounded as if it was meant to be that way. Hopefully this will not discourage the bands from trying this again in the future. The concept was awesome and with proper adjustments the all-in-one combo could improve each year, just like the showcase.

Under the direction of Thomas Obeso, the Holtville Vikings marching band began their show with music culled from James Bond movies. Dressed in green coats and black pants, this band is small in numbers with just over fifty members, but they were impressive with their sound and balance. Complimented by a fiery flags team, the group has kept the Vikings band’s reputation as one of the strongest programs created by Lendall Macon who was there for 33 years before retiring in 2009. Macon currently works with Holtville’s junior high band. It is a wonderful program for a smaller school with enrollment of just 529 students.

The Southwest Eagles were ready for the next performance when asked by Drum Major Ken Sandoval. Under the direction of first year leader Patrick Yanni, the Eagles marched onto the field to the drum line cadence and performed highlights of their 2014 marching season. Dressed in their purple capes with a black uniform, the Eagles performed “Sellout” and “Take On Me” by Aha. A dance routine incorporating the entire band followed to a drumbeat resembling a mob style dance. Then they played “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” which included more dance steps by the band including the famous chant of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” Their final song was “Brooklyn” by Youngblood that included a short trombone solo that was impressive.

Amy Jo Dailey’s Wildcat Marching band from Brawley Union High School was sure to keep us dancing in the aisles like no one was watching. That is exactly what they did with songs from The Jackson 5, The Black Eyed Peas, Sly & the Family Stone and Maroon 5. Drum Major Laura Figueroa led the group with Drum line Captain Robert De Dios, Brass Captain Gracie Favela, and Michelle Gutirrez, Woodwind Captain for 4 years of outstanding band leadership and dedication. The Wildcats were recently invited to the Fontana Marching Band Invitational where their Drum line won the Sweepstakes Award. The band also earned First Place and the People’s Choice awards as Favorite Band of the Day.

The Pride of Imperial followed with the Tigers Marching Band. They are under the direction of Brooke David Kofford with Drum Major Savannah McElvaney. A performance of “The Classics” left everyone in awe with their sound, high level of difficulty and choreography. The Classics began with a soft beginning of a clarinet solo cleverly being interrupted by a cell phone call answered by Noah Spence, who was then shot with an arrow by drum major Savannah for the rude disturbance.

This drama was followed with a fascinating array of music with an orchestra pit that matches no other band in the showcase. The orchestral sounds of the marching band were one of a kind as it continued the medley of classical songs. One song even incorporated a rap beat with a famous classical song that infused the two styles perfectly, then transitioned into a toy soldier riff and ended with a “2001 Space Odyssey” fanfare conclusion.

Calexico’s mighty Bulldog marching band followed with performances of 235 members strong. They began with the Calexico Fight Song and ended with a captivating show. Starting with the song “YMCA,” the group spelled “C-H-S” on the field while playing “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by The Scorpion to show off their flags and drill teams.

The band was downsized to show the band which previously performed at the 38th Annual Mt. Carmel Tournament, the 44th Annual Chino Invitational, and the 3rd Annual Otay Ranch Band Review and Chula Vista Field Tournament. Their show was entitled “Phantom of the Opera” with a repertoire of four songs. Senior Drum Major Kevin Kim conducted and was assisted by Valerie Ortiz and Humberto Perez. The Band director is Carlos Navarrete.

The drum line of the “Great” Spartan band cadence could be heard and felt as they represented the legendary show band of the Imperial Valley. Under the direction of Rene Baker, she has kept the pride and tradition of Central that the late Jimmy Cannon established and maintained for decades since the 70s.

Central’s show consisted of this season’s favorites with LeAnna Liddu and Adelana Terrazas twirling fire. Performing a Kanye West song, they then marched a drum line to a formation to introduce the tall flags team with the song, “All I Do is Win.” Continuing their drum line march, they also featured the Great Sparteens Drill Team with the summer song hit, “Fancy,” by Iggy Izalea. The 2003 hit by Beyonce’s, “Crazy In Love,” followed, and featured everyone on the field moving to the beat, including the drill team, flags, band and drum corps. Then the Great Spartan Band marched off into the east end zone to close another spectacular showcase of Imperial Valley’s high school bands.

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  1. Times have evolved and the Bands keep putting out better and better shows every year. So much work put in deserves this awesome get together.

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