NABBA 2009

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I think I am recovered from the weekend now, so here is the run down. We left at 5:00 Thursday evening and stopped in Hickory for dinner and I got a free meal. It was good. Moving on, we had to hit a rest stop because a kid got tummy problems going through the gorge. Bus driver stops in the middle of the night to get gas, requiring everyone on the bus to wake up and get off the bus. Brilliant. Then he freaks out about not having his own room. I understand this completely, even though it was cleared by the bus company. I call the hotel and get him an extra room. We arrive at 4:30, an hour and a half late, mainly because it takes too long to go through the mountains on I-40. The rooms were not correct so it took some time to get that straightened out. No chaperones on the 10th floor where half of the band was. Brilliant. One room had a smoke smell, so we moved them into my room and I took a master suite. All is OK and at 6 AM I go to bed, only to be woken up at 8:30 by the front desk with a bus parking problem that should have been taken care of three hours earlier.

So then begins Friday. Band meets at 11 AM to go over the days activities. Visit exhibits, lunch, solo competition with some players from the band. All three soloists did a good job putting it out there and playing really good music. Congrats to them for a good show. As soon as that was done we hit the road to Lexington to rehearse at UK. Bus 2 gets a speeding ticket, delaying us. TYBE rehearses and TYBB gets dinner at Cici’s pizza, then we switch up and TYBB rehearses and TYBE eats dinner then buses back to Louisville for sleep. They get back and are in bed before we do at 11:00 PM. The rehearsals went fine, and some UK students I know, Beth and Julian had dinner with us which was fun. Best part of the night, I got Chinese take out from the Great Wall. Best Kung Po chicken on the planet. I lived on that stuff when I was at UK. Back at the hotel, Peter stopped by and we talked for a while. He was in TYBB when he was in HS and now plays with Fountain City Brass Band. Bed time, way too late.

Two days with not enough sleep doesn’t go well with me, and I nearly over sleep the TYBE performance. The tuba guys woke me up trying to play a prank on me, which of course did not work even though I was the walking dead. TYBE played really well, under some strange circumstances. The band had a rough time personnel wise, but we managed to work it out and make the experience work for them. Trey was a super hero covering the solo book by himself, as well as some Eb sop and Flugel parts. Exhibits and listening to bands was the next thing. I went to work the NABBA booth with Caldwell. There was nothing to do there except make some old lady mad that we did nothing but talk the whole time. No one gave us any direction about what to do. I can not say I believe in that system anyways. But I participated. Then lunch, then I heard Georgia Brass band and Massanutten Brass Band. I like these bands, and have some connections with them, and enjoyed their performances.

At this point, I left and went to the hotel to meet some friends. Helen and Sam were good friends of mine in college and they brought their kids over to hang out. The Nate and Teel came by so it was awesome to sees some of the most important people to me during my college years. They all live in KY and OH, so I never get to see them. It was plenty worth it to skip some bands to catch up. Off to dinner, then the concerts at night. We listened to a couple bands, then TYBB had to change and get ready to perform. Fountain City BB was outstanding. Man they just play so well. TYBB warms up then goes to the stage for the last performance of the day.

This is where it gets interesting. Doug Yeo suggested that we perform last, after the Championship Bands have performed, setting us up to play for the entire NABBA membership, and right after the best bands in the nation play. of course I was way into that. This is the sixth time we have been to NABBA and no one has ever heard us play. What happen next was a dream come true and is something you just don’t have happen to you every day. The band did not seem nervous at all, and we took the stage, noticing a near full house of brass band enthusiasts. After our test piece, the crowd went nuts with a standing ovation. After Tchaik 4, the crowd went totally nuts, standing ovation, cheers, and it seemed to go along forever. A suggestion was made to me to play an encore, which is not normal protocol at a competition, but I was up for it. Before the applaud died out after the Tchaikovsky, we blasted into Rolling Thunder. The crowd cheered and clapped along and went nuts when we finished. I assume we did a good job because the audience was over the top with their reaction. It was so good to hear. The kids have never experienced anything like that and will not soon forget it, nor will I. NABBA now knows who we are.

Sunday we got up early and drove back home. Bus stops for coffee 15 minutes into trip, and for gas at another place. Despite the delays, we got home right on schedule, surprisingly. I have been doing these tours for nine years and this was the roughest one yet. Usually there is nothing that goes wrong, this time, everything we did with the buses was eventful and should not have been. Saturday was a great day, and we didn’t use the buses that day. I was annoyed almost the entire time because of the silly things that went on that I worked hard to make smooth and efficient. Its over now, but I still wish it had gone smoother.

In retrospect, we accomplished what we needed to, and set out to do. I was hoping we would get a big reaction from the crowd, and we did. I now hope that NABBA members see what is possible with youth bands and can begin the process of starting one in their location. if this jump starts more youth bands, we did a great thing. I am always trying to provide great experiences for our kids, and I think this one was top of the list. It was by far the biggest gig we have had so far, and we did a great job pulling it off. Congrats!!!!

You can see videos of our performances at NABBA 09 on youtube.

Here is a taste of what we did at NABBA:

One thought on “NABBA 2009

    Drew Fennell said:
    April 9, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Congratulations to you and the musicians. Great playing! (I’m going to send links of your videos to my youth band kids. I hope they’ll see the potential. They play relatively well, but not with anything near this refinement.) Anyway, good job, and please convey my congratulations (for what it’s worth) to the musicians.

    I hope you’re right about this encouraging the formation of some bands. There’s no reason that drum corps, for example, couldn’t run programs like this on the off-season…And the NABBA-member adult bands are no-brainers for youth bands.

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