Shelby County bands unite at annual showcase

Members of the Oak Mountain Spirit of Cahaba Marching Band perform during the Shelby County Showcase of Bands. The showcase featured all bands from the Shelby County School System performing at Shelby County High School in Columbiana. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

Members of the Oak Mountain Spirit of Cahaba Marching Band perform during the Shelby County Showcase of Bands. The showcase featured all bands from the Shelby County School System performing at Shelby County High School in Columbiana. (Reporter photo/Keith McCoy)

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Bands from all corners of Shelby County united at Shelby County High School on Tuesday night, Sept. 13, for the annual Showcase of Bands event that travels to different high schools around the area every year.

This year it was the center of the county in Columbiana that hosted the event, which brings all Shelby County School System bands together to showcase their talents and preview the show each one will perform at contests throughout the 2016 school year.

Montevallo, Vincent, Calera, Shelby County, Chelsea, Helena and Oak Mountain each took the field in that order to entertain a packed-out Wildcats Stadium.

“I thought it was a great night, we don’t always get to see other bands at football games on Friday nights, so it’s great that we can bring them all together and see the different shows,” said Shelby County Band Director Tom Grigsby. “The band directors are buddies and a lot of the students are friends with each other, so we enjoy getting to see each other perform.”

Grigsby has been the band director for the past 20 years at Shelby County High School and was thrilled to see the event come to Columbiana for the first time since 2007.

“It was great to be able to host this year because as I’ve said before, Columbiana is the best-kept secret in Shelby County,” he said. “I hope that our parents, students and hosts showed everyone the courtesy we preach and were hospitable to guests.”

Each band showcased shows they perform during halftime of football games on Friday nights with a few new additions like Calera adding neon lights to their drums and a pink panther to their performance.

The following summarizes each bands show:

  • Montevallo performed Music of Chicago.
  • Vincent performed Back in Black.
  • Calera performed Eagles on a Mission: License to Thrill, which featured popular James Bond songs.
  • Shelby County performed Motivations, the Agony and the Ecstasy, featuring Metallica, Foo Fighters and Leonard Cohen.
  • Chelsea performed The Great Gatsby.
  • Helena performed Dance the Night Away, featuring popular dance songs like Footloose.
  • Oak Mountain performed Red Sky at Night: Sailors Delight, which featured Pirates of the Caribbean songs.

“The sound really resonated throughout the stadium,” Grigsby said. “A band contest is just so much different from a Friday night halftime show because fans are quiet and simply listening and enjoying the music we are performing.”

He also said the showcase is an important tool because it’s like a practice contest that shows what each band needs to improve on.

“We had judges last night to give us comments, there were no scores or ratings, just comments,” Grigsby said. “We’ll listen to what the judges had to say and try to improve on what they saw and heard as we approach the contest season.”

Each band took their turn delighting the crowd with their music and the show was capped off by Oak Mountain’s performance of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” Theme song, in which they formed a pirate ship and held a pirate flag at the top of the formation to make it look like they were flying the Jolly Roger.

“That was one of my personal favorite spots in the show,” said Oak Mountain Assistant Band Director Travis Bender. “It got a great crowd response to end the show.”

As soon as they concluded to a standing ovation, the Oak Mountain drum line played as each band was welcomed back on the field to play one last set together.

“Everybody really enjoys this event, they don’t normally get to march in front of thousands of fellow students,” Grigsby said. “Shelby County is very blessed to have the bands in this county that we have. The directors we have really care and work hard, which in turn makes the bands some of the best in the state.”

Grigsby said it was a show of unity and he was very pleased to see the support the bands received.

“I just want to thank all of the bands that came and performed their show, they did a wonderful job and are great ambassadors for music in Shelby County,” Grigsby said.