Marching back in: OMHS band poised to start new season

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – After coping with limitations related to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the students in Oak Mountain High School’s marching band were ready for a more normal band camp this summer.

The members of the OMHS “Spirit of Cahaba” Marching Band and Visual Ensemble are finishing the third and final week of camp in preparation for a season during which they will perform at all of the Eagles’ varsity football games and in several competitions and exhibitions.

“We are not looking at the same limitations that were imposed on us last year,” OMHS Associate Director of Bands Dr. Travis Bender said. “This year, we’re back to one band on one field. We do breakouts occasionally, but by and large, we’re all together, which is wonderful.”

At the band’s practices last year, students were divided into groups based on instrument type to rehearse separately on four different fields to satisfy social distancing requirements.

“We worked really hard last year to design a show where students maintained 6-foot spacing,” Bender said. “You had to come into work with a smile on your face and be flexible.”

In addition to lighter restrictions, band participation has surpassed pre-pandemic numbers, Bender said.

This year’s group is comprised of about 247 students.

“We had a really large incoming ninth grade class, and our senior class is still our largest group,” he said. “They have stuck with band since the sixth grade, which is awesome.”

With a “Wild, Wild West” theme, the band’s 2021 halftime show will feature well-known western songs, including the theme from “The Magnificent Seven,” a ballad titled “Shenandoah” and another piece titled “Silverado.”

“It’s certainly recognizable,” Bender said. “The second they hear us playing the music, they’ll know it. (They are) some of the most famous western themes over the last 50 years or so.”

Bender and his students are also looking forward to participating in the Shelby County Showcase of Bands in September and several competitions in October after taking part in only one socially distanced exhibition at the Hoover Met last year.

The band will debut its new show on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. on the OMHS band practice field. The public is invited to attend.

The band will also perform on Saturday, Aug. 14 at Eagle Day, an athletics fundraiser for OMHS and Oak Mountain Middle School. The ticketed event will be held at Heardmont Park, and the band is set to perform at 8 p.m.

The band’s first halftime performance will take place at the Eagles’ first football game on Friday, Aug. 20 at Chelsea.