Marching Comets revive Beatlemania


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com



Alena Aguayo stands at the head of the Amherst Marching Comets with flag in hand during drills Tuesday morning at Steele High School. The band is preparing its “Beatles Revolution” show for competition.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Percussionist Ethan Roy plays the marimba on Washington Avenue, where band camp was held.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Alex Torres and Isaac Austin are at the ready with snare drums.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Richard Olin gets our vote for one of the hardest-working Marching Comets on the practice field, hefting his tuba over his shoulder.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Allison Quickle is at attention. Flag corps members got a lot of exercise.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Molly McGlothlin practices steps in formation with the percussion section, backed by the tubas.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Practice is no sweat for Katie Harcula, playing her trumpet. The sun gave band members a break this year as temperatures stayed in the 70s and low 80s.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Trombonist Alexis Crisp rocks some knee-high rainbow-colored socks on the practice field.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Ethan Cooper shows off his sunglasses, necessary for weathering the sun’s glare during long hours learning steps.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Jeremy Linger readies his trumpet during blocking exercises.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Sax player Gabe Kirschner stays in formation.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Kaitlyn Schroyer works on timing with her flag.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Lily Draga listens for cues as the marching band drills.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

John, Paul, George, and Ringo are the most iconic names in rock and roll.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the groundbreaking 1967 Beatles album that brought us enduring classics such as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and “A Day in the Life.”

To celebrate, the Amherst Marching Comets will stage a show called “Beatles Revolution,” melding classical refrains with hits such as “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.”

“Yesterday” appeared on 1965’s “Help!” and “Eleanor Rigby” debuted the following year on “Yellow Submarine.” The show will also pay tribute to 1967’s “Magical Mystery Tour” with red, white, and blue outfits as an homage to the Union Jack, and the Comets’ green and gold happen to be prominently featured on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s.”

Band director Chris Barbaro said the competitive show, which will be previewed for football fans during halftimes, is meant to celebrate “the coming of the Beatles.”

Beatlemania seized the world in 1963 and continued for seven years, 12 studio albums, 22 singles, 217 total songs, and 17 chart-toppers.

The Amherst marching band’s youngest members weren’t born until 2002, about 32 years after Paul McCartney publicly announced the band’s break-up. But Barbaro said they were no strangers to the legendary music.

“They love it. You know, it’s pop,” he said. “When you’re doing something like last year, with (our show) ‘Enginuity,’ and nobody knows it because it was all original music, they buy into it because it’s a cool thing. But they buy into this because it’s something they know. And the parents on the sidelines are going crazy because it’s the Beatles — it’s something they know.”

This year’s marching band is 125 members strong. It graduated 35 seniors in the spring and welcomed 33 newcomers this summer to the ranks.

Much of band camp was dedicated to teaching first-year musicians basic steps, said Barbaro.

The week-long practices had 100 percent attendance.

“The kids have turned over a new leaf. They’re being very supportive of each other,” the director said. “We started a big brother-big sister program for kids who are struggling to have someone to watch over them,” which provided moral support and direction.

We found teens in good spirits, in no small part due to the weather. Temperatures stayed in the 70s and low 80s this year instead of peaking toward the 100 degree mark, which plagued 2016’s summer practices and made fainting from heat exhaustion a real worry.

The color guard will sport new uniforms this year, and the band will have new hats thanks to the work of parents Jeff Rakar and Scott Douglass. The hats cost about $10,000 total and complement the new plumes purchased last year.

They’ll look great at competitions early in the season at Lewisville, Ohio, Avon Lake, and in October at Copley.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Alena Aguayo stands at the head of the Amherst Marching Comets with flag in hand during drills Tuesday morning at Steele High School. The band is preparing its “Beatles Revolution” show for competition.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9451-1.jpgAlena Aguayo stands at the head of the Amherst Marching Comets with flag in hand during drills Tuesday morning at Steele High School. The band is preparing its “Beatles Revolution” show for competition.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Percussionist Ethan Roy plays the marimba on Washington Avenue, where band camp was held.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9486-1.jpgPercussionist Ethan Roy plays the marimba on Washington Avenue, where band camp was held.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Alex Torres and Isaac Austin are at the ready with snare drums.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9462-1.jpgAlex Torres and Isaac Austin are at the ready with snare drums.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Richard Olin gets our vote for one of the hardest-working Marching Comets on the practice field, hefting his tuba over his shoulder.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9483-1.jpgRichard Olin gets our vote for one of the hardest-working Marching Comets on the practice field, hefting his tuba over his shoulder.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Allison Quickle is at attention. Flag corps members got a lot of exercise.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9411-1.jpgAllison Quickle is at attention. Flag corps members got a lot of exercise.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Molly McGlothlin practices steps in formation with the percussion section, backed by the tubas.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9465-1.jpgMolly McGlothlin practices steps in formation with the percussion section, backed by the tubas.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Practice is no sweat for Katie Harcula, playing her trumpet. The sun gave band members a break this year as temperatures stayed in the 70s and low 80s.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9477-1.jpgPractice is no sweat for Katie Harcula, playing her trumpet. The sun gave band members a break this year as temperatures stayed in the 70s and low 80s.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Trombonist Alexis Crisp rocks some knee-high rainbow-colored socks on the practice field.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9413-1.jpgTrombonist Alexis Crisp rocks some knee-high rainbow-colored socks on the practice field.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Ethan Cooper shows off his sunglasses, necessary for weathering the sun’s glare during long hours learning steps.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9442-1.jpgEthan Cooper shows off his sunglasses, necessary for weathering the sun’s glare during long hours learning steps.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Jeremy Linger readies his trumpet during blocking exercises.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9478-1.jpgJeremy Linger readies his trumpet during blocking exercises.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Sax player Gabe Kirschner stays in formation.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9473-1.jpgSax player Gabe Kirschner stays in formation.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Kaitlyn Schroyer works on timing with her flag.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9533-1.jpgKaitlyn Schroyer works on timing with her flag.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

Lily Draga listens for cues as the marching band drills.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/08/web1_DSC_9439-1.jpgLily Draga listens for cues as the marching band drills.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com