By Shaun Szkolnik
For The Tribune
NEW ORLEANS — On New Year’s Day in New Orleans, the Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Texas Longhorns at the Sugar Bowl; and when they do, the Pinson Valley Marching Chiefs will be there.
“The Pinson Valley Marching Chiefs will be doing multiple performances in New Orleans,” said Pinson Valley High School Band Director Keith Brandenberg. “The band will leave on Saturday, Dec. 29, for New Orleans. On Sunday morning, the band will be competing in a marching competition with bands from Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama. Over the next couple of days, the bands will work together to bring together a collaborative effort for the Sugar Bowl. The show will be featuring music with a Latin flair. The performance will be the conclusion of halftime after the bands of the University of Georgia and the University of Texas. In addition to preparing for halftime of the Sugar Bowl, the band will perform a pep rally in Jackson Square, as well as the Sugar Bowl parade in downtown New Orleans.”
That effort will cap off an extraordinary year for the Chiefs.
“The band has had the unique opportunity to practice and perform more this year than any other,” Brandenberg said. “From our first football game at Hoover, which aired on ESPN, to a couple of weeks ago when we were able to play at Jordan-Hare stadium for our football team’s second state title. We have been performing at a high level all season and that preparation should culminate in New Orleans.”
Preparation for the trip, however, has not been limited to learning the music, learning the marches and perfecting the routine.
“The parents and students have been working hard to raise money for his trip,” Brandenberg said. “We’ve done fundraisers including Snap Raise, selling tumblers, selling fruit, multiple car washes, a pancake breakfast, and we were given a large amount by the community.”
That large amount from the community includes a $10,000 grant from Senator Shay Shelnutt. The grant will be used for travel expenses for the competition trip. Brandenberg was very grateful for this contribution, as well as all of the efforts that Pinson has made to make the trip possible.
“I’d also like to thank the City of Pinson, the City Council, Mayor Hoyt Sanders, who was instrumental in setting this up, and our city officials and representatives are always willing to help out on kids,” Brandenberg said.
Brandenberg is also extremely grateful for the many ways in which this experience will enrich his students’ lives and help shape their futures.
“For us, it is a way to show the kids that band is one of the best ways to achieve their goals,” Brandenberg said. “The bands we will see at the Sugar Bowl are filled with students who receive scholarships to play in the band. Most of those scholarship students are not music major, but rather are using their hard work to help pay for their education. Hopefully this experience will inspire them and future Marching Chiefs to do all the work and then experience the thrill of performance. For our community, we are going to do our best to represent the city of Pinson and Jefferson County schools with not only our performance, but with the high quality of students we have in the band.”