‘Back in the saddle’

New Holly Pond Bronco Marching Band Director Steven Porter excited for 2021 season

Holly Pond Band Director Steven Porter poses outside the school’s band room (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – As the Holly Pond Bronco Marching Band performed last Friday, they did so under the direction of their new leader. Steven Porter recently took over the Holly Pond Band program and he is excited about returning to Cullman County. Porter had previously served as the director of bands at Hanceville.  

Porter had been looking to return to directing after establishing a choir program at Monrovia Middle School in Madison County when an unexpected opportunity was presented. “It was a whirlwind because it was so fast,” Porter said. After searching for an open position over the summer, Porter got a call the week before band camp was scheduled to begin for the Bronco band.  

After working out an agreement with Monrovia, Porter arrived in Holly Pond and the short time to prepare has been challenging, but he was certainly up for it. He said, “Coming in like that, it’s not a good idea to start a new show. They had already spent time on it, so we just went with what we got.” Their 2021 show is titled “Respect” and features songs by Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift. “The songs used, everyone can have their own interpretation, but I think it’s more about respecting a person for their individuality because everybody’s different,” Porter explained.  

The Holly Pond Band has 28 members ranging from grades 7-12. Porter has hopes of growing the program and believes that being able to teach music at Welti two times a week, as well as teaching the 6th and 7th grades bands each day, will help facilitate that growth. With 10 sixth-grade band students this year, he is already encouraged.  

Porter said, “The idea is to just keep it going, give a hook and give them something they’ll latch onto. Let them know that they can do more than one thing.”  

One perception Porter hopes to eliminate is that students must choose between sports and band. Speaking of his days in high school band, he said, “We had a lot of guys who played sports in high school while they were in band. There is no reason why they can’t. So many times, they want to make it band vs sports. It’s not that. It’s not that at all.”  

He continued, “While in high school, I think if we can work it out, let them experience different things. Band, music or anything you do with that; you are always able to play. The greatest thing about it in high school is there is no bench. In marching band, everybody does it. You don’t have people on the sideline waiting to sub in if someone twists an ankle on the field. In a band, everybody performs.”  

On Friday nights, Porter hopes to have “anybody and everybody out there.” He added, “There are some cheerleaders now that don’t even change uniforms. They just get out there and march. I would like to promote that. I think it’s cool–take your shoulder pads off, get out there, march and play or just march in your cheerleading uniform.”  

Another aspect of the band that Porter loves is its inclusivity. He said, “The greatest thing about this is that everybody has a part in the win. Everybody has a part in the participation. Everybody has a part in the performance, and they can claim that.”  

For marching bands, October is contest time, though last year, few contests were able to take place. Porter said of this year’s contest outlook, “They are in pencil!” He is hoping to take his band to perform at Hanceville’s Mud Creek Marching Festival.  

One thing Porter has been known for throughout his career is his choice of footwear at football games and contests. How is he coming along with the green and gold? He smiled, “Not yet. The first thing my wife Sharon got me was a green and gold tie. I’m still working on the shoes.”  

Bronco fans can look forward to hearing some new stand tunes at this year’s games. “We are bringing in some stadium rock and some classic rock stuff. We are trying to get some Rage Against the Machine and Offspring back in there; just some foot stomping stuff. Our generation are the ones in the bleachers now so we gotta be diggin’ that stuff.”  

When we sat down with Porter, he was preparing the band for Friday’s away game versus Cold Springs High School. He was looking forward to their performance and also seeing the Cold Springs Band perform. More than anything, he said, “I am excited to be back in Cullman County.” 

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Christy Perry