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One of the more unique regional events on the Bands of America schedule will take place this weekend, as 22 western bands converge on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
What makes this one a little different than the average BOA regional is the competitors; these aren’t groups fans are used to seeing a national stage largely because of their proximity (or lack thereof) to the annual Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. This event is also a new one for 2019, providing several of the bands in attendance a rare chance to compete on the coveted BOA stage.
But none of that even remotely affects the depth and quality of Saturday’s lineup, which features many of the top bands from some the westernmost states in the U.S. — 14 from Arizona, four from Nevada, and one each from Oklahoma, California, New Mexico and Colorado.
The Prelims portion of the event is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. PT with Mountain View and wrap up at 4:15 p.m. PT with Corona del Sol, before transitioning into the evening’s Finals competition at 7:30 p.m. PT.
Best of the Desert
This weekend’s list of Arizona representatives features several of the top performers at 2018’s Arizona Marching Band Association (AZMBA) Championships, including three of the top seven finishers in the state’s top division, 4A.
Desert Vista, 2018’s and 2017’s AZMBA 4A champion, serves as a headliner from the Grand Canyon State with 4A’s sixth- and seventh-place finishers, Mountain Ridge and Williams Field, also taking the field this weekend.
That said, Desert Vista isn’t the only 2018 Arizona class champion or medalist attending this weekend; the top two finishers from the 2A level of competition will both be headed to NAU, including two-time defending champion Arcadia and silver-medalist Mesquite.
A handful of 2018’s 3A finalists from Arizona will also make the trip to Flagstaff, including top-five finisher Ironwood Ridge, as well as Queen Creek and Hamilton.
St. George Rematch
Desert Vista is also one of the small handful of Arizona bands that have seen BOA competition in recent years; the band took fourth place at least year’s St. George Regional in Utah, not far ahead of La Cueva (NM), which earned sixth.
At that same event, Williams Field just missed the Finals (Top 10) cut-off in 12th place, while Covina (CA) took 17th.
Travels from afar
About a third of this weekend’s competitors come from outside the Grand Canyon State.
One band that sticks out from the smaller pool of non-Arizona schools, Foothill (NV) earned a seventh place finish at last year’s Southern California regional. Foothill has also been a major player in the indoor percussion scene over the last several years.
Foothill headlines a block of Nevada bands in competition this weekend, coupled with Pinecest Academy, Rancho and Sierra Vista. While Nevada’s a good distance, though, Saturday’s furthest travelers will be Rampart (CO) and Coweta (OK), the latter of which will embark on the journey of nearly 1,000 miles to Flagstaff.