Feel the thunder: High school bands make most of weather delay at Natchez High game

Published 12:13 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

Rain came pouring down, but no thunder could be heard.

Filling the Steckler Building with booms of their own Friday night, the marching bands from Natchez High School and Wilkinson County took it upon themselves to turn a dark situation bright.

Drums echoed and trumpets blared while band directors Matthew Thornton and Brandon Sanders led their respective squads in a battle of the bands, waiting for word on whether inclement weather would cancel Friday night’s football game.

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“We are pretty good friends just from work,” Thornton said. “It kind of played to our favor when the rain came down, so we just came inside.”

In his sixth year as band director for the Bulldogs, Thornton said Friday nights pop-up performance was easier than it might have seemed.

“We actually started a joint thing with our band, the Woodville band and a couple of other bands in the area,” he said. “We are trying to kick off a summer all-star band for these kids.”

Once everyone was inside, Sanders said the show was smooth sailing.

“We just did some songs they already knew from the summer,” he said. “I know the kids really enjoyed it. I loved it, too. This is what we live for.”

Friday night’s game was eventually canceled after an approximately hour-long delay, but fans were still smiling after they left for the night — lightning still flashing outside.

In the future, Thornton said the all-star band will be better prepared for next summer’s program. Last summer the group met twice a week in Natchez.

“The idea was to include all schools that run down (U.S.) 61, all the way from Vicksburg down. We are also going to include Vidalia and Ferriday,” he said. “The main reason we want to do this is because the kids in this area don’t really have that opportunity. The closest ones are in Baton Rouge or Jackson.”

Next year’s goal, Sanders said, is to continue the positivity.

“Some of these kids come from bad situations and this just gives them the time away from those negative things,” he said. “It keeps them out of the streets doing something productive.”

Thornton said the all-star band has an open-door policy and hopes to one day host a showcase event to raise money to split between schools.

As of Friday night, however, Sanders — in his fourth year at Wilkinson County — said it’s not so bad to make do with what is available.

“There’s always ways to creative excitement and fun with music and band,” he said. “We can do our thing anywhere, no matter what the weather is.“