A band of bands: Sullivan County bands seek spot in Trump's inaugural parade

Rick Wagner • Nov 17, 2016 at 8:18 AM

KINGSPORT — You may have heard about the school facilities plan proposal to go from four Sullivan County high schools to two, but some band directors have gotten together on a plan that would form one county high school band and do it on a national stage to boot.

All four Sullivan County high school bands are banding together to put in an application to be the only Tennessee high school or college band to play in President-elect Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural parade.

Come Monday afternoon after school, 285 band members from Sullivan South, North, Central and East high schools are to gather at Sullivan Central for a video of them performing “Sousa Palooza,” a collection of marches the combined bands would play in Washington, D.C., if they are chosen for the Jan. 20 parade. The original idea was for Sullivan South High School’s 100-member or so band to submit an application, but the director there soon came up with a bigger plan.

“I think this is something unique, unifying these four bands,” said Sullivan South Band Director Kenneth Carrico, who is working with North Director Nick Routh, Central Director Chris Smithson and East Director Spencer Finch. “I don’t think South could get it by itself.”

The bands will converge at Central from 3-5 p.m. Monday.

Video footage of the two-hour merger, to be edited down to two minutes, will be shot by Tim Pinto of Pinto Photos. He and his wife, Vicky, are long-time band supporters. If the plan works, the band members will wear their respective uniforms with students from the four schools combined throughout the parade lineup, with percussion, brass, woodwinds and color guards having members from all four schools.

“Having a cooperative band form to perform is what will get the attention of the selection committee,” Vicky Pinto said. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies plans inaugural activities every four years, but it is standard practice for parade participants to be chosen by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, typically formed by the president-elect and his or her political party, following the election. 

Past bands representing Tennessee have included the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band, which had back-to-back parades, followed by Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Indians in the second inaugural parade of President Barack Obama in 2013.

The deadline for the application and video is Nov. 28, and Carrico said he hopes to hear something within one or two weeks so the bands can start making plans, including financial ones, for the trip to D.C.

Carrico took a North Carolina high school band where he was director to the inaugural parade for President George W. Bush in January 2005. Carrico also was in the D-B band as a student but long before D-B went to Washington in 2013. 


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