Cardinal red, golden yellow and hot pink flashed across the football field as the Mayfield High School Marching Band played its 2022 show.
Panels showing different phases of the sky — whether that’s night or day, cloudy or clear, deep magenta or pale blue — were placed in a semicircle behind the band to emphasize the theme of “sunshine.”
The show meditated on the months after the December 2021 tornado, the “sunshine” after the storm, and how the Mayfield community recovered afterwards.
The band placed third in the Class A division out of six bands with this show in the Kentucky State Marching Band Championships finals on Saturday, Oct. 29. The colorful presentation did not go unnoticed—during the semifinal competition earlier that day, the band placed first and received awards for Best Visual Performance and Best Musical Score.
Darrin Abren, band director, collaborated with Jim Daughters, the director of bands at Southeast Missouri State University to write the show. Daughters, who describes himself as a “Kentucky boy at heart,” spent 20 years teaching band in Kentucky before moving to Missouri.
Abren designed the show, selecting the source music, what order to put them in and what themes to capture, but Daughters put the notes on the page, or the show flow, together. The show flow can be described as assembling soloists and ensembles in order to showcase the students’ abilities.
The show opens with an audio of a clap of thunder, rain and whistling wind. A flute soloist plays the melody of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff, as a sole Color Guard member dances on the field.
“I kept with something sunny,” Abren said. “ ‘I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.’ …We’re gonna talk about the tornado but not the tornado. We can talk about after the tornado. We have seen the storm, we’ve had the storm and now we have to recover.”
“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra and “Fix You” by Coldplay followed the opener.
“Even after the initial shock of things, most people are happily helping…and then you’re left, you know, to really recover once all the help is gone,” Abren said.
A mixture between “Ode to Joy” and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers closed the show.
Senior Maddox Gore, whose home was damaged during the tornado, performed a tenor saxophone solo of the melody in “Fix You,” and he also plays tuba in the marching band.
“We definitely, as a group, we’re trying to be the best we can be,” Gore said. “And for not only ourselves, but for the community…so it’s just showing off what we are and who we are and what we can get done.”
Ella Bacon, a senior who is the drum major, said the band tried new approaches with visuals this year.
“Visuals is something that we…are doing a lot of this year,” Bacon said. “Last year, we had visuals, but I feel like this year specifically, we’re just focused a lot more on that.”
Colors and movement were notable: the Color Guard twirled in their dresses, which were a gradient of yellow, pink and purple, while waving multi-colored flags. During Gore’s solo, the band split up into two tight-knit circles, gradually breaking away to end up staggering themselves with the guard.
“It was representing a community that has been through a lot in the aftermath of the tornado,” Daughters said. “The show honors their spirit. That’s no small task for anyone. I just hope we did the community justice.”
The show is special to Bacon because, to her, it’s a testimony to the disaster and recovery in the area.
“It’s just to me…proof that after something so devastating, you know, people of our school can still come together and be great, even though we’ve lost so much,” Bacon said.
As the players hit their final notes, the guard stands with their flags at their sides, and the band gathers in a corner nearest the stands, leaning toward the audience. No instruments can be heard lingering after the release—a clean cut off.
It’s an honor to Abren when his students perform well.
“It never gets old because each group is different,” Abren said. “Each group is special.”