‘Pride of Hanceville’ preparing for new season

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Jesse James, Hanceville High School band director, looks on as students march during band camp at Hanceville High School. (Hayden Hyatt for The Tribune)

HANCEVILLE – The Pride of Hanceville Marching Band kicked off its first full week of band camp this week, with students meeting to practice marching and music for this year’s half-time show.

Jesse James, who is in his first year as band director for Hanceville, said the students have been preparing for camp this summer.

“This (Monday) is the first day of what we call ‘full’ band camp. They've been going for about two weeks now prior to today,” said James. “First week we had guard, percussion and rookie camp, and we had the younger kids that are new and just starting. We got them going, working on fundamentals and stuff with guard and percussion, just getting them back in the swing of things.”

James continued, “Then last week we had our music camp, where we focused every day on learning choreography with our guard and majorettes and working on just our music, so that when we got into camp this week we already had a leg up on it.”

Hanceville has a big show planned for viewers during half-time at the varsity football games this year.

“Our show is called 'Viva' and it's an Elvis concert. We're doing 'Viva Las Vegas' as our opener. Then we're doing 'Hound Dog' and 'Jailhouse Rock,' going into 'Can't Help Falling in Love,’ but we’re doing a take on the original and we’re also throwing in the Pentatonix version. That way everybody has a connection to it.

“Then we’re closing with 'A Little Less Conversation', which is our drum feature and we've got some surprises in store for that. I don't want to leak too much,” James laughed.

Hanceville's band is smaller this year, but that is not a problem for James.

“We're a little smaller than we were last year, but this year we're really focusing on that quality, good quality,” said James. “My personal philosophy is, if you have that good quality the quantity is going to come. We're looking to grow in the future, but we're going to start from here.”

James said he has big things in store for the band this year.

“We are going to a few competitions this year; of course, we’re going to do the Cullman (Fair) Parade and the exhibition and all that,” said James. “But the biggest thing that I would like to promote is that we host a marching festival here. It's called the Mud Creek Marching Festival. It's a very well-run competition, we have great judges, the kids work super hard at it, we have great food and it's just going to be a fun time. We have bands from all over the state come. This is my first year doing it; I've never ran one before, but I'm super excited about it.”

Pride is not only a name for Hanceville's band.

“We do have a motto here: purple pride, no excuses, just results. It's one of those things that (the students) say to kinda hype them up, get them going and for them to realize that you can't make excuses to get results, you just have to do it,” explained James. “If you make a mistake, fix it and let's go. I hope that they can see the correlation with that in their life too. If you want something out of life you have to work hard to do it, you can't just sit back and make excuses for it. I think that's a very positive message.”

The new director intends to impress some of his own values on the students.

“I am huge on respect. I want to make sure that my kids not only respect me, but they respect each other, they respect their parents, teachers, everything,” James said. “I really try to make my kids be the most well-rounded people you can find. We have already got that seed going here. These kids are super respectful, super hard-working and you can't ask for much more than that.”

The end of band camp performance will be Friday, July 27 at 6 p.m.

For more on Mud Creek, visit www.mudcreekmarchingfest.weebly.com.

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