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Ellwood City Lincoln High’s Blue Band's brass section perform’s during last year’s Lawrence County Marching Band Festival. This year’s festival will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at Taggart Stadium. — File photo by Erica Mihok/NEWS

Back in school means back in step if you’re in band.

For everyone else, it can mean tapping toes in the bleachers during halftime shows of peppy music.

The Lawrence County Marching Band Festival is a chance to see what each area high school perfected during summer band camp.

New Castle High School is hosting the event at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at Taggart Stadium.

Here is a glance at what you can expect to see and hear.

NEW CASTLE

In his first year as Ne-Ca-Hi band director, Michael A. Palladino Jr. said he’s been so busy preparing music that he hasn’t had time to think about stepping into shoes filled by Dr. Thomas Zumpella, revered retired director. Palladino has been middle school band director for 15 years.

This summer, Palladino and his students created three halftime shows, one of which they’ll pick to present for the band festival.

The Swing Era show has hits like Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”; the jazz/disco show features “Play That Funky Music”; and the ’50s rock theme show includes “Johnny B. Goode” and “Proud Mary.”

About 120 students comprise the band — Candy Canes dance line, flag line and two featured twirlers. Together, they put in nearly 60 hours of rehearsal during three weeks of band camp, Palladino said.

A fourth show of Hollywood show tunes featuring Henry Mancini music will be used later.

SHENANGO

Band director at Shenango High School, Robert Babick said staging a halftime production is a high point to a busy band year. This is his third year at Shenango.

His halftime show is a classic blast from the past.

“We’re doing music from the ’60s and ’70s,” said Babick, who led an energetic band camp at the end of July. He added that the songs include an energetic “Bend Me, Shape Me,” “Atomic Dog,” “and a great tune by Carlos Santana, ‘Everybody is Everything.’ ”

MOHAWK

Jason Bonnar, band director at Mohawk High School, turned to the musical stage for halftime inspiration.

“We’ve based our version on the Broadway musical ‘Wicked,’ ” Bonnar said.

It is about the witches in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Mohawk’s concert band enjoyed the music so much when it performed it that Bonnar set about locating arrangements he could design a halftime show around.

The 70-member student spectacle includes about 55 musicians, a 14-member dance line and two majorettes.

NESHANNOCK

Neshannock’s Lancers get daring with their “Mask of Zorro” production complete with a costumed hero, his love interest, a villain and a sword fight.

Lew Kroner’s 65 students started rehearsing mid-July and have worked up a spectacle rivaling Hollywood.

The story is told through “Plaza Execution,” “Spend My Lifetime Loving You” and “The Ride.”

Kroner crafted the show mindful of judging standards set by the Pennsylvania Instrumental Marching Band Association — marching skill, overall performance and effect on the audience.

Of the 45 seconds or so of special dramatics, Kroner said, “It’s a first for us.” He believes the group has pulled out all the stops.

WILMINGTON

The Wilmington Greyhound Marching Band is comprised of 83 musicians and the 18-member band front of dancers and majorettes. There are also two drum majors.

In his 27th year as band director, Gary Taylor said the challenge of putting together a stellar halftime show is to squeeze the potential out of the kids so they perform at their best.

“We are working their potential and working hard,” he assured.

Taylor said he has no specific halftime theme this year, just a rousing selection of classic music, stepping off with Styx’s “Mr. Roboto,” the Latin-style, “Conga,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band,” Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and the Kansas megahit, “Carry On My Wayward Son.”

LINCOLN

Lincoln High School is in step with the community’s preference for rock ’n’ roll, according to band director Lee Caldwell.

“This is a classic rock community,” Caldwell said, who has three things in mind when putting together a solid halftime show.

“I look for songs I’m going to like, the kids will like and the audience will like,” Caldwell said.

Therefore, classic rock.

The teacher admits, though, you’re never going to please everybody.

During band camp, Aug. 14-25, the 75-member band rehearsed: “Carry On My Wayward Son,” “Centerfold” by the Jay Giles Band, Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol.

Besides the musicians, there’s a nine-member band front performing a pregame show with flags and choreography with hoops or pompoms.

UNION

Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are the inspiration for what John Westcott’s students at Union High School have cookin’.

Expect dark shades on some of the cool cats as they dazzle the crowd with “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” which, according to Westcott, is the Blues Brothers theme.

Other gems include “Hold On I’m Coming,” “Give Me Some Loving,” before closing with “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”

Union’s two-week band camp for the 70 students included the majorettes and drill team, who have their own special moves for shakin’ the blues.

Westcott, in his third year at Union, called this year’s camp the easiest one yet.

“The students’ attitudes were great. We worked hard and had a good time.”

LAUREL

The Laurel Spartan Marching Band spent July 31 to Aug. 11 in band camp working up a traditional halftime show that has something for all kinds of listeners — a classic march and then some popular tunes before marching off in patriotic glory.

The 55-members include the Spartanettes, majorettes and front guard.

Band director is Nate Daubenspeck, who said the halftime show begins with “El Gato,” a piece written for marching units, and then steps into more familiar territory with — “Lock You Up” and Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie.”

The final tune is the patriotic “American Fantasy.”

Daubenspeck, in his fifth year at Laurel, said the band is smaller than in past years, which means that everybody is important.

“Because of our size, each student has to pull their own weight. And they are doing that very well.”

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