Jamboree jazz band plays the lights out in Charleston

When people think of Scouts doing service, they usually picture Scouts holding hammers and shovels, not trombones and trumpets.

George Pinchock wants to change that. The band director for the 2013 National Jamboree Jazz Band brought his 57-member group off the Summit property to perform two shows in nearby West Virginia cities on Friday.

“The jamboree brought people down here to do service, and this is how we do service,” Pinchock said. “We could be clearing brush, but instead we do what musicians can do. We perform. We bring Scouting to the community through our music.”

Today I met up with the band in Charleston, the charming West Virginia capital city, to check out their performance at Live on the Levee, a neat venue right on the banks of the Kanawha River. The band had performed earlier in the day at a smaller venue in Beckley, W.Va.

Rain clouds formed during the performance, but the Scouts played on. Raindrops fell at an angle, soaking the tuba, trombone and trumpet sections, but the Scouts played on. At one point, the power was shut down because of a lightning risk in the area, but the Scouts played on. To say the band played the lights out would be accurate on two levels.

They played more than a dozen recognizable songs, including “Hey Baby,” “Carry On Wayward Son,” “New York, New York,” and “Thriller.”

During each song, nearly everyone in the 300-person crowd (kept dry by a large retractable roof) tapped their feet or sang along. Even the headliners set to perform after the BSA Jamboree Jazz Band couldn’t help but dance to a few of the Scouts’ songs as they prepared the stage for their set. After the show, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones was among the first to rise to give the group a standing ovation.

The band’s confident, fun performance becomes even more impressive when you realize the group first rehearsed together on July 11 — less than 10 days ago. Since then, the band, composed of some of the best Scout musicians from across 32 different states, has bonded and formed into one solid sound.

“The kids came together with incredible talent,” said Pinchock, whose real (read: paying) job is as band director at Villanova University. “I’ve been really impressed.”

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About Bryan Wendell 2780 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.