News Column

Thriller show Growing Carbondale Area band gets zombie-fied for fall show

September 7, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 07--While its fall field show might focus on the undead, the Carbondale Area Junior-Senior High School band is alive, well and growing.

The last four years have seen the band change from just a handful of students to a force of more than 50 ready to deliver a fall field show laden with creative flourishes that draws on popular culture.

Senior Jesse Mower, one of the band's drum majors, said the changes the band has gone through recently "have been great." He praised band director Steve Dixon, who had just six students when he took over the job four years ago. This year, the band will field 39 instrumentalists and 16 drill team members.

"Mr. Dixon is a phenomenal teacher, and it's because of him," Jesse said. "He's doubled the size of the band every year he's worked."

The school district now is "really starting to see a return on investment" it put into the students when they were younger and just learning how to play their instruments, Mr. Dixon explained.

"We've steadily been growing, and it's been exponential every year," he said.

When Mr. Dixon started as band director, Jesse explained, "we weren't really doing a whole lot." But that's not the case anymore.

"We're doing more than ever, more than the school's probably ever done before with the band," Jesse said. "It's really great. I love it."

That extra effort shows in the concept for this year's field show, "The Marching Dead." Mr. Dixon came up with the idea thanks in part to the zombie television show "The Walking Dead" and the Wayne Highlands School District football field, which tends to become foggy during games.

"I was just thinking like, 'What would we do if we saw a zombie?'" Mr. Dixon recalled. "It just sort of snowballed from there."

Soon, the idea seemed more feasible than crazy, and thus the show was born. It draws on the zombie theme from multiple angles, like the spooky tunes -- music from the film "Sleepy Hollow," a "Fright Night" medley and the classic "Thriller" -- and costumes. The band has taken old, disused uniforms and turned them into what Mr. Dixon described as dirty and bloody "zombie uniforms."

"We're going to be changing into the costumes," Jesse said. "It's really kind of exciting, and it's something we haven't ever done before."

The other students thought the show "was a pretty great idea" that would be memorable and would get people talking, said freshman Brett Gillott, the band's other drum major.

"They were very interested," he said.

The group has been doing really well so far, Mr. Dixon said.

"This is a really young band," he said. "They're all being very focused and dedicated far beyond their age level."

Contact the writer: cheaney@timesshamrock.com, @cheaneyTT on TwitterCarbondale Area Junior-Senior High School marching band

Number of members: 55

Drum majors: Senior Jesse Mower and freshman Brett Gillott

Director: Steve Dixon

Show: "The Marching Dead," featuring music from the film "Sleepy Hollow," a "Fright Night" medley and the classic song "Thriller."

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(c)2013 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)

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