Welp…The first weekend of the 2019-2020 HBCU band season got off to the typical smoking hot start. From the seven cities of Hampton Roads Virginia to NRG Stadium in Houston Texas, the anticipation to get this season off on the right foot was real. Your friendly neighborhood HBCU bandhead got a good deal of show watching in during this long holiday weekend. Needless to say, there’s a lot of fireworks and creasing to talk about. Let’s get started!

1) The National Battle Of The Bands was A Success:
There was a good deal of speculation on just how the former ‘Queen City Battle Of The Bands’ would fare with a change of scenery and some re-branding. I think this year’s turnout in Houston for the lineup that was put together will go far to alleviate concerns about a potential drop in attendance for the event. Having a lineup of heavy-hitting programs for Houston’s maiden voyage hosting the event didn’t hurt either. Tennessee State, Southern, Jackson State, Texas Southern, and Prairie View A&M all have HUGE sounds this year. Miles College and Talladega College aren’t slumming it this year, either. That being said, The “Marching 100” of Florida A&M re-emerging on the national stage this year was probably the most raised eyebrow-worthy thing on my radar for the event. A healthy FAMU is just plain better for the craft in general. That stand face-off with the Human Jukebox of SU is the stuff rivalries and the culture is made of.

2) HBCU Band Media Teams are stepping their collective games up:
There are certain programs that seem to always be able to put their best foot forward when it comes to crafting their own narrative in the jungle that’s today’s online media platforms. This year’s a bit different; It’s like EVERY program we see has some sort of media team putting a level of shine on their respective product, which bodes EXTREMELY well for the future of the craft. Programs are learning, and the playing field is leveling up as a result. The BGMM of North Carolina A&T has become one of those programs that have become experts at using this platform to craft their own unique narrative. Check it out:

3) The State of Alabama is gonna be cutthroat this year…AGAIN.
I mean cmon son…The state has turned into Celebrity Death Battle for HBCU marching bands and this season looks to be even more intense than previous years. Alabama A&M (quietly curses under breath) looks to be the class of the state this year, with Miles College nipping at their heels. Talladega College and Bama State are right there, too (A smaller Bama State is proving to be an ensemble that’s going to punch WAY above its weight this season, and they just may be the darkhorse out of all of the bands mentioned this year if things fall right.).  Tuskegee (Yeah, THAT Tuskegee) and Stillman also look to be solid. It’s going to make the upcoming ‘Battle For Birmingham’ on September 15th a must-see affair for the band head and casual fan alike.

The one constant we’ve come to expect out of the SWAC season after season is Southern University being consistent. This season sees arguably some of the best competitive balance within the conference in a good while. Early returns on the entire confrence are excelllent, so it’s safe to say that weekly match-ups are going to take on an intensity that you’re simply gonna have to see to believe. It should be just what the doctor ordered for fans of practically every program in the conference. PV vs. SU, The Boombox Classic, and the Magic City Classic should be ESPECIALLY interesting this year. Save Mississippi Valley’s rebuild, there isn’t really a program in the conference that’s a glaring weak link.

5) Norfolk State, FAMU, BCU, and NCA&T are the class of the MEAC:Those four programs have effectively distanced themselves from the rest of the conference, which kinda speaks to where the MEAC is collectively. Howard’s rebuilding and both North Carolina Central and South Carolina State are dealing with a drop in instrumentation. It’s going to be interesting to see just how much the 2nd tier bands in this conference grow from now until the end of October.

6) Tennessee State keeps holding it down for the Indy scene:

Well The Aristocrat Of Bands (The AOB) haven’t taken their collective feet off of the gas pedal since really getting back into the national spotlight at last year’s Charlotte Battle Of The Bands event. They’ve been arguably one of the best programs in the game the past few seasons, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to plateau again. Langston and Hampton (yeah, I know…I’m used to attaching them to the MEC, too…smh LOL) are also programs in this category to really keep an eye on as the season progresses.

The SIAC and CIAA are both seeing some growth in terms of band visibility, though you still have some schools that are playing loose and fast with the support they provide to some of their respective programs (Bowie State, I’m talking to y’all mane…). Shout Out to Kentucky State and Fort Valley State in particular; The growth of both programs has been pretty spectacular in such a short period of time. With that, I’ll bring this week’s edition of VFTS to a close. For all of the folks that have followed this blog over the years, THANK YOU! Your support heeps this old head going! 😉

Until next Entry…

Next articleLegendary Forgotten 5th Quarter – Howard vs. Morris Brown, 2002


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