The Marching Bees will compete in the Sonic Boom! Marching Band Competition in Franklin, Tennessee, on Saturday, Oct. 6. During their time in Tennessee, the students will visit Nashville’s many music landmarks and the Plan Bee pep band will record in Jack White’s studio at Third Man Records. (Submitted photo)
The Baldwinsville Central School District’s marching band and pep band are headed to Music City this weekend. The Marching Bees will compete in the Sonic Boom! Marching Band Competition in Franklin, Tennessee, on Saturday, October 6. When they’re not performing, the Bees will visit Nashville to tour the Grand Ole Opry, the Johnny Cash Museum and Third Man Records, which is owned by Jack White of the White Stripes.
“It’s been on my to-do list for a long time,” Casey Vanderstouw, Baker High School music teacher and marching band director, said of the Sonic Boom competition.
Vanderstouw said the Marching Bees had planned on going to the Tennessee competition in 2014, but they canceled when they were invited to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Baldwinsville hosted its Marching Bee home show Sept. 22. The band’s show this year is called “Weapon X,” themed around the Marvel Comics character Wolverine. The show draws from the cartoon and movie soundtracks of “X-Men,” plus work from artists such as Stone Temple Pilots and Johnny Cash.
“I like to travel to a place when there’s something in our show that relates to it, so with the Johnny Cash song, it’s a good fit,” Vanderstouw said of the Nashville trip.
Vanderstouw said visiting Nashville will put some of the Bees’ work into context for the students.
“Whenever we cover music of any type, I’m really big on the kids listening to the source material before they play it,” he said. “It’s one thing to play the music, but to be where it came from is really awesome.”
A small group of upperclassmen in the Plan Bee pep band will get to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats. The band will record a single in the Blue Room, where artists such as Willie Nelson, Pearl Jam and Neil Young have performed and recorded.
“Each kid is going to get a 45 in the school colors, and it will be listed as an actual release of Third Man Records,” Vanderstouw said.
A 45 record holds about four minutes of music on each side, so Vanderstouw is hoping to record two songs on each side. Plan Bee has prepared four songs to record: the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast As You,” Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” and Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.”
Plan Bee is looking to an album celebrating the band’s 10th anniversary in January, Vanderstouw said.
“We’ve been working on a pep band record of our own for the last three years where we’ve been recording at different places,” he said. “We’re probably going to do a live release show.”
The anniversary record will be released on vinyl, and Vanderstouw is hoping to include a digital download card in each record.
“I run a vinyl record club here, and that format has made a huge comeback in the last five years,” Vanderstouw said. “Some kids only buy vinyl, and visiting Jack White, that’s his baby.”
About 110 students will embark Oct. 4 on the trip to Tennessee. After they return Oct. 7, they will continue rehearsals for the New York State Field Band Conference Championships, which will be held Oct. 28 at the Carrier Dome.
“It’s a lot to endeavor,” Vanderstouw said, “but what great memories for the kids.”
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.