Every year Payson school band enthusiasts gather on the grass behind the middle school gym to spread blankets, eat a picnic dinner and enjoy music the week before school ends.
This year, the forest fires added drama to the performance by surrounding the town with plumes of smoke. As the sun set, it bathed the musicians in a striking red light.
Mike Buskirk directs and emcees the Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) beginning and advanced bands. He peppers his introductions with personal touches such as:
“I’m from California and California isn’t California without beaches and the beach isn’t the beach without the beach boys,” he said to introduce “Help Me, Rhonda.”
The RCMS advanced band belted out the song as the audience tapped their toes, jiggled their feet and sang along.
This concert represented the last show the outgoing eighth-graders would play with their fellow middle schoolers.
“I’m so sad this is the last time we’ll all be together,” said one seventh-grader as tears threatened to fall.
Those eighth grade students will move up to the high school band next year and work with Daria Mason. For the band jam she has the graduating seniors conduct their favorite pieces.
“Mr. Tim Wallace will conduct a piece from the popular Dragonslayer marching band program,” she said to introduce the first senior conductor.
The high school band masterfully played the complicated piece following Wallace perfectly.
The band jam finished with the multi-generational big band/jazz band. Students from middle school to high school play with teachers and community members.
As the big band/jazz band played a Beatles compilation, the RCMS band members in the audience waved their hands in the air pretending to hold lighters while laughing at their cleverness.
Adults bobbed their heads and sang the lyrics they knew. When the band got to “Hey, Jude!” Buskirk bellowed out the riff to the song.
The band jam showcases the talent Payson school children possess. Come on out next year!