Post by boahistorybuff on Nov 3, 2019 9:48:19 GMT -6
...2000 SEASON REVIEW...
This season marked the 25th anniversary of BOA. From its start in 1975 and with the first Grand Nationals in 1976, the activity had come a long way in just a quarter century. This first season of the decade was certainly indicative of how things would continue to trend over the coming years. Use of props, tarps and amplified vocals gained momentum. Bands were really striving to make their shows unique and stand out. There was more symbolism, both in the visuals and in the music, that aided in selling the theme. Me being a little more old school and more of an analytical person, I would have to read reviews by Michael Boo or various forums to get a sense of the meaning in a lot of these shows.
There were 12 regionals held this season. There were actually quite a few surprises at many of the regionals this season. The season started Sep 23rd, a weak earlier than in years past. One of those regionals held this weekend was Louisville, KY. In a fairly competitive regional, the outcome was surprising as Northmont (OH) beat Lawrence Central (IN) for the title. Northmont came from behind as they had finished 4th in prelims. This was Northmont's first of two BOA regional wins. A few points down in 3rd was Alan C Pope (GA), with Carmel (IN) 4th and Center Grove (IN) 5th. The Toledo, OH regional was also on Sep 23rd. Multiple rounds of thunderstorms delayed prelims so much that finals had to be cancelled. Centerville (OH) again won the regional with Plymouth-Canton (MI) 2nd. Prospect (IL) was 3rd. After the earlier start to the season, we had to wait two weeks for the next regionals. Going into the Hemstead, NY regional, Norwin (PA) was the overwhelming favorite to win. Big surprise as King Phillip Regional (MA) beat them by over a point. Norwin would have to settle for 2nd. This was the first of four regional titles for King Phillip Regional. They remain the only Massachusetts band to win a BOA regional. The San Antonio, TX regional was again early in the season. LD Bell (TX) not only won this regional, they won it by over six points with all judges having them in first. This was LD Bell's first regional win. This was still a fairly competitive regional with Winston Churchill (TX) in 2nd followed closely by Ronald Reagan (TX) in 3rd. Not only was this the first BOA competition for Ronald Reagan, it was only the schools second year in existence. What was probably the biggest surprise at this regional was that Westfield (TX) finished 10th, their lowest finish at a BOA regional to date (they had previously been either first or second every year since 1984). The Johnson City, TN regional had yet another big surprise finish. North Hardin (KY) came off a 4th place finish in prelims and placed 1st in finals, their very first BOA regional win. They edged out 2nd place Fort Mill (SC) by a half point. Not too far down in 3rd and 4th was James F Byrnes (SC) and Lafayette (KY). The Morgantown, WV regional also had a few surprises [NOTE: the results on the Hornrank page links to the 2001 results instead of 2000, perhaps someone can fix that]. Norwin (PA) won the regional over 2nd place Kiski Area (PA). Norwin was over a point and a half ahead of Kiski, so no tie like 99. I think what was most surprising was that Centerville (OH), who were favored to win, came in 3rd.
After their huge win at Grand Nationals in 98, Lassiter did not participate in BOA in 99. They returned in 2000 and were considered a shoo in to win the Atlanta, GA regional. They certainly had the show to do it; awesome music performance. But in a shock, Tarpon Springs (FL) edged them out for the win. It was their visual scores that were enough to edge them over Lassiter. While this was Tarpon's third regional win at the time, it was their first win in Atlanta. The Tarpon band was also a third the size of Lassiter. The St Louis, MO regional was close at the top. It was won by the dominant Oklahoma band this season; and no that band was not Broken Arrow. Union (OK) won this region. This was their first regional win since 1986 and their third total win. So far it has been their last win. They edged out Lake Park (IL) by a half point. In a very close third was Owosso (OK) with Broken Arrow (OK) a couple points down in 4th. Yes Oklahoma bands made a statement at this regional. There was no big upset at the Las Vegas, NV regional as Etiwanda (CA) completely dominated, this being their fifth regional win. Diamond Bar (CA) came in 2nd, their highest finish at a BOA regional. Not too surprising after their win in Atlanta, the Orlando, FL regional was won by Tarpon Springs (FL). In a somewhat close and very respectable 2nd was Irmo (SC). Cypress Creek (FL) was a solid 3rd. Held the first weekend in November, the Houston, TX regional proved to be extremely competitive. LD Bell (TX) won comfortably, almost hitting 93 points, their second win of the season. Sring (TX) was 2nd, with Leander (TX) 3rd, The Woodlands (TX) 4th and Ronald Reagan (TX) 5th. All of these bands broke 87 points. This was certainly the season that LD Bell really hit their mark. They also won the Texas UIL championships this season. Not only did they play well (and at times loud) they had some insanely fast drill moves in this show. Finally, the Indianapolis, IN regional was jammed packed with strong bands. Seven of the finalists at the Indy regional would return one week later and become finalists at Grand Nationals. Marian Catholic (IL) won the regional, putting themselves into a great position with just one week to go to nationals. This was actually Marian's first regional title since 1989. It was their 5th and last regional win; yes Marian has more Grand National titles than regional titles. That is what happens when you peak right at nationals and attend competitive regionals. Lawrence Central (IN) was 2nd. This was not only the second time they were runner up to a regional this season, it was the second time this season that they won prelims only to get knocked out of first in finals. Carmel (IN) was third and showing that Louisville was no fluke, Northmont (OH) was 4th. A final point about this regional, Ben Davis (IN) attended and was a finalist. This was the first BOA competition for this long time Indiana power in sixteen years.
A total of 86 bands participated in the 2000 Bands of America Grand Nationals. At that point in time, that was the most ever to participate in Grand Nationals. For me, knowing how Marian Catholic could peak at Grand Nationals, I had them favored to win based on what they had already achieved this season. They not only won their class at the Illinois State Marching Championships, they won the whole thing. This was the first time they had done that since 1988. Also toss in the fact that they won the Indy regional, beating the Indiana power bands. Of course Plymouth-Canton was certainly in the mix given what they had done the previous year. Lawrence Central, Carmel and Tarpon Springs were potential dark horses. During the semi finals awards, Marian Catholic (IL) was crowned Class AAA Champion and took music performance and GE. In the years that Marian competed in Class 3A, this was the only year they won the Class AAA title at nationals. Plymouth-Canton (MI) was 2nd in 3A and Carmel (IN) was 3rd. Despite finishing 5th in Class 3A, Lawrence Central (IN) took the visual performance award. The Class AA was hardly a contest as Tarpon Springs (FL) won and swept all of the highest achievement awards. This was their first time winning the 2A title at nationals. Tarpon would also be the only 2A band in finals this year. Ooltewah (TN) was 2nd in 2A and King Phillip Regional (MA) was 3rd. In Class A, Belbrook not only won again and swept the highest achievement awards, they beat the next scoring 1A band by nearly 10 points; more on Bellbrook later. Bassett (VA) was 2nd in 1A with Jackson Academy (MS) 3rd. The early 2000s were a bit of a comeback for Jackson Academy after their early 90s success. So upon conclusion of semi finals, it was quite clear that Marian Catholic and Plymouth-Canton would be battling it out for the title in finals. While I do think the right 12 bands were selected for finals, the semi finals judges scores were a bit all over the place this year. One point about this season before I dive into the finalist bands, as of 2019, this marks the last season that not one single Texas band was in Grand National finals (this was a big UIL year). There were certainly several Texas bands that were worthy of finals had they attended.
At the time, winning seven Grand National titles seemed unreal. Marian Catholic (IL) pulled it off in finals and won by over a point. Their show was titled "The Tragic Medusa" and featured the music of Christopher Rouse; Gorgon, Flute Concerto and Phantasmata. The show told this ancient Greek mythological story. No props needed in this show. In each movement of this show, the music brilliantly conveyed the powerful emotions in this story. Much of this was anger and betrayal. Marian really attacked this music. As you would expect, there were times with mind boggling levels of difficulty in the music. They really handled the technical difficulty well which really left an impression with the audience. Also have to mention some of Marian's best percussions moments occurred in this show; I absolutely loved the Marian drum line this season. There were several sections in this show of what I would call stunned silence by the audience. As always with Marian, you had to listen very closely to all of the different layers and musical nuances. To complement the often angry music was some very angular geometric drill, executed extremely well. There was a lot of straight and diagonal line segments in this show. At the end of the show, after the final big push to the front by the band, most of the band walked off the field with heads down and arms around each other. Left on the field was a small ensemble and a few soloists along with the guard. They gave a slow and somber (I think meant to reflect on the tragedy that had just been told) ending to the show. They won the GE award as all three of the music and visual effect judges had them first. They were also only 0.05 points behind the winner of the visual performance award. A final point about not just this show but Marian in general is that I believe their director Greg Bimm is not only their principal music arranger, but writes most of their drill. That is not something very common among bands at this level. This was certainly a great way to open the decade for Marian. This seventh GN title would however be their last, but certainly not the last time they would bring incredible performances to Indy.
Plymouth-Canton (MI) certainly gave Marian a run for their money. They would, however, have to settle for 2nd place. Their show was titled "Reflections on Obsessions". This was a type of show that became very popular this decade and is one where the band takes a concept and explores the different ways that concept can be used. In this case, PCEP illustrated things like obsession with money, technology and beauty. There was a lot of visual frills in this show. For example mirror props with guard in blond wigs for the beauty section. There was also a large screen that displayed words and at one point stocks were scrolling across it. That prop seemed so high tech at the time. However, looking at what Tarpon did in 2018, that prop looks almost primitive by todays standards. Aside from all of the visual nuances and great drill design, the show packed a ton of musical elements into it. This may be one of the most difficult shows from a musical perspective that Plymouth ever undertook. Amidst all of the brilliant music were sections of amplified vocalization and a ton of electronic effects. The musical arrangement was simply genius. Their performance of it also earned them the music performance award in finals.
When Tarpon Springs (FL) burst onto the scene in the late 90s, I admittedly was uncertain of their longevity. After all, this was an era when many Class AA bands were getting smaller and finding it more difficult to compete with the ever growing number of large school bands. Tarpon was after all Class AA and they barely had 100 members in their entire band. This season made me realize that Tarpon Springs may be an exception to this (and this was still years before their school became a performing arts magnate). They finished 3rd in finals. Outside of their GN title in 2014, this has been their highest finish at nationals (granted this last decade has been much more competitive than in 2000, so that has to be taken with a grain of salt). Their show was titled something to the effect of The American Century, giving a look back at the more notable historic occurrences in the 20th Century. Plenty of props helped tell the story. I am not sure if they had already been calling themselves an outdoor performance ensemble, but it certainly seemed to fit. What really stood out is how well they played and how well they handled the difficult and intricate drill maneuvers. They showed in finals that their beating Lassiter in Atlanta was no fluke. They also earned the visual performance award in finals. I believe that Tarpon Springs 2000 (with perhaps 100 members at best) is the smallest band to ever finish in the top three in Grand National finals (Lake Park 1988 had I believe closer to 110 members).
In 4th place was Lawrence Central (IN). Although they just missed out on winning two BOA regionals this season, they did win the Indiana Class A state title. This was their third title in 4 years. While I often think of this band as notable for its high quality marching, the Spirit of Central had some pretty powerful musical performances in its glory years. This year was a great example of their musical prowess. I honestly thought they may come away with the music performance award (they ended up 2nd). Just wonderful sound and very good soloists.
After perhaps being overshadowed by Center Grove in 1999, this year Carmel (IN) may have been a bit overshadowed by Lawrence Central. Carmel again had a strong all around performance; finishing 5th in finals this season. Their show; I think something like 'The Art of Life' was full of strong design elements and great music. I was also becoming of fan of their percussion.
After perhaps an off moment in finals in 99, I think Centerville (OH) redeemed themselves this year. They gave a strong finals performance to finish 6th after coming in ninth in semi finals. Their show was titled "Adventures in Jazz". A theme that they could almost have used any given season back in those days. It was the Centerville we all loved, awesome and well played jazz.
This was yet another year where Center Grove (IN) used tarps. These were the largest they had used up to that time. They had mirrors at the edges which created an interesting effect. This was Thomas Dirks last year with the band before retirement and it turned out to be an especially rough season for them. They had lost a lot of seniors the previous year and had a big influx of new member this season. I read a third of their band was new and that Mr Dirks requested the designer go a little easier on the drill, which I guess did not happen. It proved very challenging for this young band to deliver a quality music performance with such demanding drill. Adding to the difficulty this season was the death of one of their band members due to a car accident. Although they were not at the level of the previous five seasons, the band still delivered a strong show a nationals despite these challenges and finished 7th in finals.
Just sliding into finals in twelfth place in semi finals (it would have been such a shame if they missed finals this year) and then rebounding to 8th in finals was Northmont HS, from Clayton, OH (just outside Dayton). This was Northmont's first and only appearance in Grand National finals. Northmont began participating in BOA in the 1980s and from 1988 onward became a perennial regional finalist and Grand National participant. They were a strong band and did well at nationals (finishing in the top 25 several times). Prior to this season, they just could not manage to rise to the next level. That all changed this season as their success at regionals this year spilled over to nationals. I believe their show was Carmen Burana. I would probably say that the 2000 finals performance of this show was the best performance Northmont ever put on the field. This was certainly the ultimate Cinderella moment for this band. Although this was their last finals appearance, they remained quite good through the rest of the decade which included several more appearances in Grand National semi finals. While Northmont remains very active in BOA, they have slipped a bit this decade. Their school has also seen a drop in enrollment (they are now a Class AA band instead of 3A like they were in the 2000s).
In 9th place was Lake Park (IL). They took a big risk this season with their show ""April 19th, 1995, To Bind The Nation's Wound". This show was about the Oklahoma City bombing which at that time was still relatively recent. The opener seemed to have some underlying suspense in it. The show then seemed joyful until a big tarp was brought over the band representing the bombing. Much of the remainder of the show was slow and somber. There was a lot of emotion in this show and it was a pretty heavy theme for a high school marching band to take on. It had not been since Westerville South's 94 show that such a tragic event was portrayed in GN finals.
This decade saw a lot of strides made in electronics on the field. However, there were times when the electronics did not always work. One of the biggest fears that these bands would have is that there would be an electronics failure at nationals, or worse, in GN finals. That is what happened to Union (OK), who had a near total failure of their electronics in finals. It is not that they needed them to be good, but I think it threw them off a bit. Probably why they finished 10th in finals, dropping from seventh in semi finals. This was a great year for Union, not only winning a BOA regional but also winning the Oklahoma State title. I finally got to see the semi finals version of this show on line (with all of the electronics). The show was titled "Distorted Reality" and featured original music. I think in many respects this show was ahead of its time. Wes Cartwright was still with the program this season and it showed in their visual design and color guard; very cool. The music was just awesome and had a lot of loud and 'out there' moments. They really played up the whole distortion thing, both in the music and in the visuals with some wild guard costumes. This was just a fun show to watch and had some crowd pleasing percussion features. The electronics added a ton of interesting sounds to this show; it is a shame that they did not work in finals. I think this show had the potential to finish in the top six had they not lost the electronics. After this season, we would have to wait ten more years for Union to return to finals.
Since the 91 rule change where bands were no longer advanced to finals on class, there have only been two instances of a Class A band making GN finals. The first was Jackson Academy in 93 and the second came this season. Belbrook, HS from Bellbrook (OH) outside of Dayton (three Dayton area bands in finals this season), made their first and only appearance in finals, where they finished 11th. You could tell from their absolute joy in finals that this was unexpected. They were soaking it all in. By 2000, Belbrook had numerous regional and national Class A titles under their belt and had been frequent regional finalists and national semi finalists. They had a slow but steady rise during the early 90s, winning their first GN Class A title in 1994. They had a cool show concept this year "Tyranny of the Clock", featuring sound effects, props and a large clock tarp on the front of the field. Over the last 10 to 15 years, most small school bands had been decreasing in numbers (it was no longer very common to see a Class A band with over 120 members). Belbrook, however, looked to have had at least 130 members on the field, fairly large for a Class A band. They were actually bigger than Tarpon Springs. Bellbrook would remain a small school power house through most of the decade; they actually moved up to Class AA in 2002. In 2013, they dropped back down to Class A and picked up yet another GN Class title.
The 12th place band in finals was Broken Arrow (OK). They took props to a whole new level this season. They must have had two dozen large and really tall white column props. It was a bit jaw dropping seeing them being brought onto the field. In the prop filled shows of today, this would not seem too big a deal. Back then, however, it was unusual to see so many huge props like this. They also moved them around the field during the show, which actually added a unique look to the visual design.
Finishing in the unlucky number 13th spot was Ooltewah (TN). Actually, all of the judges had them in finals except the two music performance judges who scored them so low it kept them out of finals. This would be the closest Ooltewah would ever get to finals. They were a band that often reached their peak right at Grand Nationals. We would see them in semi finals on several more occasions this decade. In fact, I think they were the most successful Tennessee band at Grand Nationals this decade, even though they never made finals. Prospect (IL) was 14th with King Phillip Regional (MA) in 15th. To my knowledge, King Phillip Regional is the only Massachusetts band to ever participate in Grand Nationals. Alan C Pope (GA) was 16th with Cypress Creek (FL) in 17th. Ben Davis (IN) wound up 18th in their first trip to Grand Nationals since their fourth place finish in 1984. This is despite being an Indiana power through the 80s and 90s. Another Indiana stalwart, Northrop (IN) was 19th while James F Byrnes (SC) was 20th.
I will include the link to Marian's finals performance and Plymouth-Canton's semi finals performance. To my knowledge, the only other finalist bands whose performances are on line (either finals or semi finals) is Lake Park, Union, Belbrook and Broken Arrow.