JCJC hosts Mississippi Lions All-State Band

Written By: Cassidi Bush, JCJC Intern
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-06-27 15:29:23

ELLISVILLE - The Mississippi Lions All-State Band is on the campus of Jones County Junior College working on their final preparations before their trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. The camp began last Friday, June 22, and will continue until the plane departs on Saturday, June 30. But before they leave, the public will have the opportunity to hear the culmination of their work at a free concert on Friday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the JCJC Fine Arts Auditorium.
The International Lions Parade of Nations competition will be held in Korea this year, but because of political unrest, the Mississippi band, along with all 13 participating bands from the United States opted out. To Director and Manager Jeff Cannon’s knowledge, this is the first time in Lions Band history none of the U.S. bands will compete. 
“Even though they are not competing, it is still important for them to practice as if they were,” said Cannon.
The 145 band members are happy that their hard work will pay off in Hawaii because they will experience things like hiking in the lush rainforest, snorkeling in the sparkling clear waters, enjoying a luau and marching in a parade. South Jones High School Senior, Keely Parker is excited about one event in particular. 
“I’m looking forward to our concert at Pearl Harbor on July 4,” said Parker. “It is going to be very emotional for me because of the history and patriotism associated with the site.”
Opportunities such as these are only afforded to a select group of musicians. Earning a spot in the state’s premier band is very competitive. Cannon said there are usually about 1,000 students who audition each year. The pressure doesn’t end there. These musicians realize the desire or need to continue the prestigious record of success. The Mississippi Lions Band has won the International competition nine times over the last 11 years and 28 times in its 61-year history. 
“These students have a great work ethic, and they have creative and talented instructors and great support from their parents,” said Cannon. “That all translates to success.”
Because the high school musicians are expected to have their music memorized when they arrive on campus, they spend their time at JCJC syncing together their playing and marching styles. To students who came from schools with a large music program, this may come more naturally, but it was quite an adjustment for students like Chayne Thrash, a recent graduate of Taylorsville High School, who came from a 35-member band.
“Its way different; I feel like I’m a mile away from the director,” said Thrash.
Another Mississippi Lions Band member who was in for a change was recent Nettleton High School graduate, Zachary Fowler.
“I play the bass clarinet,” said Fowler, “and my high school director told me that wasn’t a marching instrument. The first day of camp was the first time I had ever marched in my life.”
The drum major of this year’s group is Adam Weatherford, a recent graduate of Columbia High School. This is his first year to be a part of Lions Band. After earning the position over four others who had auditioned, he has realized that it is challenging to quickly learn a lot of material, but feels he has risen to the occasion.
“It is surprising to see people coming out of their homes and businesses while we’re marching on Court Street,” said Weatherford. “It seems to be a tradition for them.”
Besides being in a relatively central location, JCJC has been the unofficial home for Lions Band for many reasons. With successful band programs both at JCJC and South Jones High School, the community is used to hearing the sound of the marching band, and doesn’t mind sharing the streets with them.
“None of us got here by ourselves,” said Parker. “We couldn’t have done it without the outpouring of support from our families, communities and Lions Club members. We are all here working toward a common goal - representing our state.”
For more information about Lions Band, click on the website: www.misslionsband.org.


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