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Williamstown Band of Spirit looks to defend title

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By Bryan Marshall

The Williamstown Band of Spirit is hard at work this summer preparing to defend their back-to-back Class A state titles.

Two weeks of full band camp followed a week of instruction for rookies.

The band, directed by Bob Gregg, won their fourth state championship in five years last year.

Williamstown previously won state in 2004, 2005 and 2007, all with Gregg as band director.

Summer camp is vital to the band’s success, he said.

“We can concentrate the work into a short period of time so we don’t tie up everything all summer,” Gregg said. “We try to get as much done as we possibly can. It’s when we learn our show. We try to put the music with it and the flag work with it.”

This year’s group has 87 members, including 19 seniors who Gregg called “terrific leaders.”

“They’re almost like young band directors,” he said. “They know what makes it successful.”

Before the band travels to Bourbon County for a pre-show the weekend before Labor Day, they have to learn their new program.

At times, battling the blazing sun and humidity, the band has worked tirelessly on “Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often.”

The new show mixes a religious-themed tune with Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2 and music from the movie “Cinema Paradiso.”

One of the visual formations is in a heart shape.

Tim Hart, curriculum coordinator for Urbana (Ohio) Schools, is serving as visual coordinator for the show.

Hart is a former Grant County Middle School teacher.

“It should be really entertaining,” Gregg said. “I think it has a good theme to it. How much better can you get than ‘Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often?’”

When camp is complete, the band will continue practicing three hours a day.

“With music, if you don’t continue to build on it and continue to perfect it, it gets rusty over the weekend,” Gregg said. “There’s so many nanoseconds of precision, until we can work on every detail of it, it’s not going to be sparkling whether it’s music or marching. It just takes a lot of repetition because it’s so complex. But, the kids our amazing.”

One recent change in the band’s schedule will be a performance Oct. 3 at Grant County High School.

Dave Owens, a long-time friend of Gregg’s, is taking over the GCHS band this year.

“I think he’s awesome,” Gregg said of the Owens’ hire. “I graduated from Grant County so I’m hoping, praying and looking forward to them doing great. We’re going to support them as much as we possibly can. We’re in two different classes so we’re not competing with each other. Wouldn’t it be awesome in our county to have two state champions? I’m telling you that they are going to get that good with Dave Owens. He’s just the best.”