In the spirit of High Notes as it was born two short weeks ago, I'd like to recognize Penn State's Blue Band for this week's high note. I last heard them bringin' it in the stands as the Nittany Lions played the Kent State Golden Flashes in Happy Valley. That said, in information I will go on to clarify, there will be all sorts of plot twists, turns, and honorable mentions this week.
I actually didn't watch a ton of college football this weekend. I caught Thursday night's game with Cincy at NC State, but the Power Sound of the South has never impressed me much. I caught the start of the noon contests (hence Penn State) before heading over to Clemmons, NC. West Forsyth High School Marching Band was having their friends and family day; two friends of mine are on staff over there. I really liked the format; Jim (the director) actually had qualified adjudicators there, who provided feedback on their performance for the band and the friends/family (mostly parents) assembled to hear. The band starts their competitive season next weekend, so this gave them something to work with before it counts. It also served to demystify the judging process for the audience. They sounded and looked pretty good, too, so in that instance, West Forsyth, while not a collegiate band, gets an honorable mention from me.
I stayed around Forsyth County for the rest of the day on into the night, attending Rock the Block in Winston-Salem, so I missed all but the latest games. I did catch the end of Texas at Texas Tech (The Goin' Band from Raiderland, Week 1's winner, continues to impress) and stayed up until Iowa-Arizona was over, quite late here on the east coast.
In the spirit of ESPN, I've decided to name yesterday in college football "Battle Saturday"; that's battle as in Battle of the Bands. There seemed to be quite a few visiting bands in various stadiums, particularly in the Big Ten's out-of-conference matchups. In an in-state dust-up with two excellent programs, Ohio University's Marching 110 visited Ohio State's TBDBITL. Kent State's band made the trip to State College as the Golden Flashes took on the Nittany Lions. And in what begame on of the more meaningful trips of the weekend, the UMass Minuteman Marching Band paid a visit to the Michigan Marching Band in Ann Arbor, a showdown between two Sudler Trophy winning bands.
* * *It is a shame that I've had to speak on quite a few losses in the band world in the past couple of weeks. But on that very trip to Ann Arbor, the Minuteman Marching Band lost their director of 33 years, George N. Parks, to a heart attack. Parks is a name I've come to be familiar with just through his involvement in the world of marching music; I am most familiar with the drum major academy that bears his name. What I did not know, until reading about him following his passing, was his ties to the mid-Atlantic and specifically Delaware. Parks was drum major at Christiana High School in Newark, and went on to march at West Chester University in PA.
Additional honorable mentions go to both the Michigan Marching Band and the Minuteman Marching Band. Michigan held a moment of silence on Parks' behalf before their show in the Big House this Saturday.