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Getting the band back together

DEMOPOLIS — Phil Bonds loves music.

His career, which spans over 26 years, has been spent sharing the gift and passing it on to younger aspiring musicians.

This week has not been any different than the rest of his career as a high school band director.

On Monday, the members of the 2008 edition of the Demopolis High School River City Blue marching ended their summer early, only to begin that dreaded week known as band camp.

At 8 a.m. each day, the group has convened in the DHS band room to run through show music, then hit the practice field as early as possible in an attempt to avoid the extreme mid-day heat.

“We’ve had the best band camp ever this year,” Bonds said, and a lot of the success of this year’s camp can be attributed to the absence of middle school students in the varsity band.

“This has had a maturing effect on the band both in sound and marching and allows the Demopolis City Schools to more reflect an ideal band model allowing the instrumental music curriculum to be expanded,” Bonds said.

But while the cut of middle school students did improve the sound and marching quality, it cut the quantity of this year’s band.

“The band dropped from about 80 last years to only 70 this year,” said Bonds.

The first halftime program the group will perform this year is “Music Through the Decades” and features hits such as “Aquarius,” “Time is on My Side,” and “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction.”

Bonds, who announced to students on Monday his intent to retire at the end of the year, said he looks forward to retirement and moving back home to north Alabama to be closer to his family.

“I’ve got a lot of fishing and reading planned for the next few years,” said Bonds. “I’ve been putting it off for too long.”

On top of this marching season, the DHS band is preparing for their second Bands on the River Marching Festival, scheduled to take place on September 20. Look for more information on this event to follow in The Times.