N.C. Central University’s Marching Sound Machine will be one of three special performers at the Bull City Marching Band Classic on Saturday, Sept. 30, in the O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in Durham. NCCU Marching Sound Machine Contributed
N.C. Central University’s Marching Sound Machine will be one of three special performers at the Bull City Marching Band Classic on Saturday, Sept. 30, in the O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in Durham. NCCU Marching Sound Machine Contributed

Durham County

Battle of the Bands throwdown at NCCU is ‘going to be just as big as a football game’

By Tammy Grubb

tgrubb@heraldsun.com

September 29, 2017 12:12 PM

DURHAM

If pounding bass and the bravado of the brass makes you sway, the Bull City Marching Band Classic could be your ticket Saturday.

The annual event will bring out 17 of the best high school bands from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to compete for awards and a grand champion prize of $1,000.

“It’s good that we get to promote the arts and show people this side of band,” said Thurman Hollins, N.C. Central University’s director of bands. “It’s going to be just as big as a football game.”

The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. at N.C. Central University’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium and also features special performances by the NCCU Marching Sound Machine, Elizabeth City State University Marching Sound of Class and the Virginia Union University Ambassadors of Sound.

Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. Get more information at bit.ly/2fEhJPB.

Hollins noted the competition is a great recruitment opportunity for students, who get to play for the college bands and their directors. It also will be the first time that the Sound Machine gets to play host and raise money from the event, which could attract about 1,500 high school students and their families, he said.

Each band gets to perform for 10 to 12 minutes, about double the time they get at a football game, he said.

“We’ll definitely have a great show that’s tailored for our football audience – old and new. We’re going to be playing some old-school music, as well as some music that’s currently on the radio,” Hollins said. “Mixing that with the pageantry of the flags and some dance choreography. We’re putting a good show together for the high school students.”

HBCU Band of the Week

The NCCU Sound Machine’s style got a special shoutout earlier this week from HBCU Gameday, he said.

The media outlet, which reports on sports culture at historically black colleges and universities, named the 150-member NCCU band it’s Band of the Week. The Sound Machine has “provided the soundtrack for NCCU Football to pull off 16 straight MEAC Football wins,” HBCU Gameday posted on Facebook, along with a video recap of the band’s “Rift Reloaded” performance.

“They were definitely very excited to be featured, and it was really good timing for our event, as well as the upcoming Honda Battle of the Bands voting process about to begin Monday,” Hollins said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

How to help the NCCU Sound Machine

The NCCU Marching Sound Machine needs fans to vote for it next week as the 16-year-old Honda Battle of the Bands gets underway, said Thurman Hollins, N.C. Central University’s director of bands.

It’s like “the Superbowl for HBCU band programs,” he said.

Voters can cast votes for their favorite band once a day for two weeks. The four bands with the most votes automatically advance to the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on Jan. 27, 2018, in Atlanta. They will be joined by two bands that have not participated in the showcase more than twice and two chosen by Honda and Urban Sports.

The Invitational Showcase winner gets a $20,000 grand prize to support the band’s program, Hollins said.