2021 Band of the Week - Southeast High Marching Noles
BRADENTON - A "Fresh" take on the 1990s. This is a story all about how it happened:
Two long years. That’s how long the Marching Noles waited to compete and march again after paring down their season dramatically in 2020.
“We couldn’t march during our marching season even though we really wanted to bad," says drum major Jamaal Thomas.
The Noles made the best of it with a tradition of fun in the stands and fun on the field under band director Andrea Vella. Band captain Gabriel Defreitas has never had a bad year here.
“And you’re including COVID in that?" I asked him.
"I’m including COVID. Football games we could be losing 40 to 0 and we’re still having fun. There’s never a dull moment,” Gabriel says.
Since it’s been two years since they’ve marched, they had to scale things back a little bit for their show.
“Normally we have 24 sets in movement 1. This year we have 12, but we’re still making the same shapes that we would in the 24 sets,” Gabriel says.
With their return to a more normal marching show this year, the theme is energy, especially under their drum major Jamaal.
“He gives out a lot of good energy all the time. If he’s in a bad mood, you just never know. He’s always singing on his own anyway," says Gabriel.
Which is where their halftime’s story begins. Jamaal was singing the familiar jingle to the 90s sit-com, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in class in earshot of Vella.
“And she was like, 'You know that?' I was like, “'Yeah. I grew up watching that. It was a very nice TV show.' She was like, 'What? That’s crazy.' I think that’s how we came up with our show idea this year," Jamaal says.
The truth is Vella already picked the show a couple weeks prior to this, but the kids didn’t know yet. So when Jamaal then found out Fresh Prince was the halftime show, “I was like really? I was like, ‘Wow,'" laughs Jamaal.
While Jamaal is the Fresh Prince of the show, the rest of the band isn’t playing Jester. The entire band’s writing can be seen in the show, literally, because each section decorated one of the Fresh Prince props you see on the field.
Good vibes and comedy, Vella views this group of kids and leadership – affectionately – as kind of goofy. That's why she thought, with their personality and energy, they could make this show an entertaining spectacle. I mean, what other group is going to dance the Carlton on the field, hmm?
Speaking of which, I had to ask Jamaal if he could show me how to dance that. And so he did, as you'll see in the video.