The Night the Prairie Jumped

It was 1948 when band director Doug Thompson brought out a ‘new’ tune for the Mount Pleasant High School Tiger Band. We knew it was pretty good when we saw the composer was Charles Lee Hill. He had been writing very popular marches for bands for years. I was sitting first chair in the trumpet section and as we looked over the score, there was a “Trumpet Solo”. It was the second such arrangement we had. The first was a song we rehearsed for the Regional Band try-outs entitled “Pavane”. I played that solo when our band rehearsed it, but another trumpet player was featured in the Regional Concert. (His name was Jimmy Allen and he was from a much larger school in Texarkana, Texas)  The first time we performed “Jump” was at half-time at the Clarksville/Mt. Pleasant, homecoming game.  It was a thrill to walk out before the front line of the band to play the solo.  We were greeted with a huge cheer, but then the Clarksville band featured their solo trumpet player with Harry James’ arrangment of the “Flight of the Bumblebee”.  “Jump” remained one of our schools most favorite tunes, but lost some luster when the other guy played one of the most difficult trumpet solos ever written.  It was a very nice feeling to learn that Clarksville would be in another district, beginning the next year.  “Prairie Jump” and “The Saint Louis Blues March” will long remain among my favorites to play.  When the band folded and I joined the choir at ETBC, I didn’t play trumpet until in Vegas, when Paul Geil and I ‘attempted’ to play together.  The lip was gone, donchaknow.   Organized musical organizations should never have been excluded in schools.  There is a great deal of ‘learning’ involved in becoming the best.  We never expected anything else at SFA in Bryan.  That, no one can take away from those who labored in love with me, back in those days.  GOD bless, each and every one! AMEN

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