Jacksonville State University
The Marching Southerners, Jacksonville, AL - United States
The first band at the State Normal School in Jacksonville, AL was formed in 1928. Students generally only attended the school for two years, and there was no full-time director, both of which hindered growth of the band in the early years. In 1930, the college was renamed Jacksonville State Teachers College, reflecting an increasing role in higher education for the institution; however, the Great Depression and the start of World War II put the band on hiatus.
After the war's end, Walter A. Mason took over as head of the music department at the college. A veteran himself, he turned to fellow Army musician J. Eugene Duncan to take the reins as the first full-time band director in the school's history in 1948.
Early in 1956, Duncan left Jacksonville to take over as head of the music department at Morehead State University in his home state of Kentucky. To replace the departed Duncan, Mason turned to John T. Finley, who had joined the Jacksonville State music department in 1951 as a brass instructor.
Finley immediately began making changes to the band's musical and visual style. Gone were the sousaphones, comets and small-bore trombones so common in other marching bands of the time. In their place, Finley's band used orchestral instruments such as trumpets and bass trombones. The most radical instrumental change was Finley's adoption of the Conn 20-J upright recording bass as his band's tuba of choice. To this day, Jacksonville State remains the only university marching band to use this heavy concert tuba on the field.
Other musical changes included a departure from military-style marches in favor of slower, more dynamic musical charts culled from orchestral and symphonic sources, as well as Broadway and Latin Jazz.
Visually, Finley's band abandoned military-style block drill in favor of a precision marching style and wide-open company front formations. The new marching style was designed to achieve total uniformity in step height and body carriage, and the company front formation helped to project the sound of the band.
Last, Finley chose to create a dance line as the band's visual focus instead of the far more common majorette lines seen in other bands. Finley christened them the Marching Ballerinas.
Band members felt the revamped band needed a name as well, and turned to Norman Padgett, a trombone player in the band, for inspiration. He suggested the name "The Southerners," and in the fall of 1956, the Southerners and Marching Ballerinas made their debut.
After Mason's sudden death in 1959, Finley took a leave of absence to complete his doctorate. John Knox served as interim director in his absence. In 1961, David L. Walters was named director. He would go on to lead the band for 30 years, serving through the fall 1990 marching season.
In 1991, M. Scott McBride took over as director, serving through the 1993 season. Kenneth G. Bodiford was named director in 1994, and continues to serve in that capacity. Mr. Bodiford is joined by assistant directors Clint Gillespie and Jeremy Stovall.
Notable performances in the Southerners' history include an appearance in the inaguaral parade for US President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. They perform regularly at the Bands of America Regional contest in Atlanta and have made two appearances at the B.O.A. Grand Nationals in Indianapolis, in 1999 and 2002. The band also performed in the 75th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 1996. The Southerners drumline has been a consistant powerhouse at the PASIC Collegiate Drumline Competition dating back to the early 80's. They were the 1998 PASIC runners-up and the 1999 PASIC Champions. A clip of the band's Macy's parade performance was used in the background of an episode of the television sitcom Friends.
In 2006, the Marching Southerners celebrated their 50th anniversary with a performance that included both the current members and many surviving alumni, including many charter members of the organization who marched in 1956. The alumni were invited via letters, email, and telephone to come to the 50th reunion. An astounding 1,500 former Southerners accepted the invitation and came to the reunion game against Samford University. The game's climax was at halftime when the alumni joined the 300+ current Marching Southerners to play a few songs that were directed by past drum majors and also included past directors of bands, John T. Finley & David L. Walters. The sight of 1,800 current and past Southerners was so amazing that one school reporter stated, "The football field turned from green to red."
Championship Maple Snare Drums FFX-1412
Championship Maple Tenor Drums PMT-60234
Championship Maple Bass Drums PBD-1814, PBD-2014, PBD-2214, PBD-2414, PBD-2614, PBD-2814, PBD-3216
Adams Artist Series Marimba MAKF-50
Adams Artist Series Marimba MAKF-46
Adams Vibraphone No Motor CV-2F
Adams Sololist Series Xylophone XSKF-35
Adams Professional Series Timpani PRKG-20,23,26,29,32
Adams Chimes BK3003CF
Adams Concert Glockenspiel GCF-33
Symphonic Series Concert Bass PBM-3626
Pearl Concert Bass Drum Stand with Field Frame Wheels STBD-36F