Mr. James Palm became Director of Bands for the Walton-Verona school system at the beginning of my senior year in high school. Our previous director had served while I was in 9th-11th grades; he was a nice man but had issues maintaining order and discipline. Mr. Palm came in with a plan to energize the program, and clearly got buy-in from those who held the purse strings.
We got new uniforms, a vast improvement over our former wool ones!
We had professional individual/sibling photos taken (okay, that $ wasn’t coming from the school).
And maybe most importantly, we got to take a trip.
I don’t know that our band had ever done anything like that–certainly not since I’d moved up to our combined junior high/high building in 7th grade. It hadn’t even occurred to me as something to try to do. But there it was, a dream we could attain. I know we did some fundraising, but I don’t remember what we sold to help defray costs–maybe candles? Whatever we did, it was enough.
The first year’s destination wasn’t all that ambitious. Toward the end of spring break, we loaded up and headed for Nashville, maybe five hours away. While the stated purpose was to play before judges and get rated on our performance, the underlying reason was to incentivize band membership with travel opportunities (the following year, my sister got to go to DC). We played well enough for our size ensemble, I guess, though I doubt we got more than a satisfactory evaluation. But we definitely had fun. Sightseeing included The Hermitage and a day at Opryland.
A number of my closest friends were in the band; since it was only a couple of months before graduation, it was one of our last hurrahs together.
Mr. Palm stayed for several years before moving on to be an administrator at nearby school districts. I last saw him about a decade ago at an All-Years Band Reunion Concert at W-V.
I continued to play my (actually, it was Dad’s) trombone in the Wind Ensemble at Transy. Ben used it his first few years in band, but I really haven’t touched it since my last college concert.
Not surprisingly, I’ll end with a song from the spring of 82. Since Val is so prominently featured in a couple of the pix here, I could go with Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” as I remember him playing it often around then, but instead I’ll link to a song I actively associate with the Nashville adventure–it was getting what airplay it did at that moment. I feel like I must heard it sometime while on the trip.