Liberty marching band wins battle of the bands

March 6, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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The Liberty High School Marching Band has won this year’s KZOK Battle of the Bands competition. The Patriots marching band topped 43 other high school bands in Western Washington to claim the grand prize of $10,000.

A captured screen shot from the Liberty High School marching band’s winning video from the KZOK Battle of the Bands. Contributed

A captured screen shot from the Liberty High School marching band’s winning video from the KZOK Battle of the Bands. Contributed

“I felt the students did a great job of performing the piece and I thought our video went the extra mile to really entertain the viewers,” said Phil Donley, Liberty band director. “Once we got past the text-voting stage of the contest, I thought we had a very good chance of winning, but you never know what other people are going to think.” 

Donley said the band is forming a student committee that will be used to help sift through the ideas that have been coming in regarding how to spend the money. 

“Personally, I would like to do something for the Liberty band students, but also give back to the music education world. Whatever we decide on, I assure it will go far beyond buying stuff for the band,” Donley said. 

Last year, the band played “Black Betty,” but when hackers spoiled the online voting, KZOK made the decision to stop voting and just select from the 40 participants.  Unfortunately, Liberty was not among the top 10.

This year’s selection was “Rebel Yell.” The marching band played “Rebel Yell” at nearly every football game this season, but it was not the original choice for the KZOK contest, Donley said.

“We originally selected the Styx hit, ‘Mr. Roboto,’ at the beginning of the school year. And then one morning while listening to the ‘Bob Rivers Show,’ I heard South Kitsap performing the exact same arrangement of ‘Mr. Roboto’ that we had been rehearsing,” he said. “We decided to select a different song from our repertoire since they played it on the air first, and it actually worked to our advantage.

“Nobody else used ‘Rebel Yell,’ so that helped us stand out amongst the other groups,” he added. “It really seemed like a lot of schools performed the same songs. Man can only take so much ‘Carry on Your Wayward Son,’ by Kansas. It’s a great song, but I think six schools out of 44 did the same arrangement.”

Rogers High School came in second and the band from South Kitsap took third. The contest received about 625,000 text votes.

The celebrity judges were Alan White, of Yes, who lives in Newcastle; University of Washington Band Director Brad McDavid; Donn Bennett, of Donn Bennett Drum Studios; and Blake Lewis, a former “American Idol” contestant.

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