Cumberland Gap band is one to watch

Johnathan Elliott is changing the culture of band at Cumberland Gap High School and this is evident by a large number of students wanting to become part of The Pride of Cumberland Gap Marching Band.

What started three years ago as a dream is becoming a reality for Elliott as he has seen the rise of a band from the middle school level to a high school band with over fifty members.

“Three years ago we held our first band camp with just a few students, but now my plan of starting at the middle school level to get interest going is working. Last year we had a high school band consisting of around 30, and now we are up to 50-51 musicians. The ultimate goal is over 100 and as more students see what we are doing this season, more will want to be a part of the band,” Elliott said.

The strength of the band is the change in culture that is going on from year to year. The community is coming together and the middle schools are driving the numbers up. The band’s strength is the momentum around it.

When it comes to a weakness of the band Elliott said, “It has to be our youth. I would imagine that every time we go to compete we will be one of, if not the youngest band overall. We are talented but very, very young.”

The band is fighting through the hot days of camp, sunburns and even injuries due to the more physical demands of a new and exciting halftime performance. The theme of this year’s performance is Viva Las Vegas, and it will feature songs from the likes of Elvis and Frank Sinatra. The show is believed to feature many props and will be enjoyable to watch.

As far as community support, England’s, IGA of Harrogate, Walmart and many others are welcoming the hard work with donations as well as several parents.

“It’s just a lot of individuals coming together to help us out,” said Elliott.

When asked about what he would want to say to the community about his growing band Elliott said, “I just want them to understand we have a band that has been named superior at multiple competitions over the last few years, but this year’s band will be impressive. I really think that some will be blown away by our band this season. We are not out here to represent just the Cumberland Gap High School but the entire area. We strive to be the best we can be, and we will amaze a lot of people this season.”

Elliott wants the community to help not just his band but also CHS by going to their respective school board members and letting them know how much they appreciate the bands and ask them to keep supporting music classes in all schools.

Elliott added, “The two high schools are rivals and we want to be better than them and they want to be better than us. That will never change, but together we want the same thing — to keep growing the bands and music classes in our county.”

The Pride of Cumberland Gap Marching Band gave a sneak peek of their halftime performance, July 27, after a community cook out at CGHS. Elliott is assisted by Erin Esther Johnston. The color guard instructor is Lindsey Cook and the majorette coach is Grayce Shockley. The high brass instructor for the band is Hope Williams, and the low brass instructor is Casey Lamont.