If you’d told me a couple of years ago I’d be writing that Clovis EAST High School, not Clovis WEST, was the highest scoring local band at the Western Band Association Championships, I would have said your brain was dizzy from standing too close to the cymbals. But that’s what happened Sunday. Clovis East walked away with a third-place win in the overall smaller-bands category, while Clovis West — known for decades as a marching powerhouse — placed 13th in the larger-bands category.
Clovis East’s overall score was 88.85, while Clovis West received 82.35.
Congratulations are also in order for Visalia’s El Diamante High School, which scored 12th overall in the bigger-band category, also nudging out Clovis West.
In the smaller-band category, some Valley schools did quite well, including Madera High School at No. 7 with a score of 83.95 (also ahead of Clovis West), Madera South High School at No. 8 with a score of 80.10, and Los Banos High School at No. 9 with a score of 79.45.
I can’t claim to have my finger close to the pulse of the local band scene this season, so maybe Clovis East’s success wasn’t all that much of a shocker, but I for one am really surprised. What’s the word, band insiders? Was this a major upset?
I attended the bigger-band semi-finals on Saturday and didn’t get a chance to see Clovis East on the field, but I was impressed with many of the other schools I saw perform, including Clovis High School, whose plumed hats as part of their new uniforms are pretty nifty.
I’m always impressed with how much time and effort these thousands of band members put into competing in a big championship gathering such as this. I ended up chatting with Linda Shelton, a Clovis band booster, whose son, Ryan, was playing flute on the field.
Most schools start practicing in August with two weeks of band camp. During the school year, out-of-class rehearsals are intense, too: Three hours a couple of nights a week, plus all day Saturday. We watched the Clovis routine, which would be the last time the seniors would compete, and Shelton stood there, transfixed.
“That’s the best I’ve seen them do,” she said, a big smile breaking across her face.
The big winner for the weekend with the highest overall score was the nearly invincible James Logan High School from Union City, which scored a whopping 97.70. The show was done to a theme of “Where the Wild Things Are,” and from the first moment on the field — when the musicians settled with a pounce by sitting cross-legged in various crouches and poses — there was an amazingly distinctive, animalistic flow to every movement. The marching was as smooth as dance, and the music had a vivid, sophisticated quality that almost made me feel as if were listening to it inside. When various band members started taking running starts and actually tumbling on the field, gymnastics-style, I was in awe. The James Logan band managed to wow me once again.