Yellowjackets marching band named region’s best at East Texas Music Awards

The 2018 Mineola High School Marching Band.
The 2018 Mineola High School Marching Band.
(Courtesy photo)

Although UIL rules prohibit them from taking another shot this year at a state crown, the Mineola High School Marching Band nevertheless earned recognition recently as one of the finest musical groups in East Texas.

An acknowledgement of their excellence came Sept. 10 in Gilmer when Mineola High’s 100-member musical ensemble was named 2018 Marching Band of the Year at the East Texas Music Awards.

The annual red carpet affair pays homage to aspiring artists and the top musical talent in East Texas – from blues, rock and jazz to country, bluegrass and hip hop. In all, artists and talents from 31 categories were nominated and then voted on by fans. The 2018 event was co-hosted by Kadie Lynn, a featured artist on America’s Got Talent season 11.

The Mineola High School Marching Band, which last year was judged the best in Texas in Conference 3A, was nominated along with bands from Carthage, Kilgore, Sabine and Athens. MHS Band Booster President Candice Holt attended the event and received the award on behalf of band.

Mineola High’s band director Chris Brannon said the band’s success over the past few years can be chalked up to several factors.

“Great kids and great support,” he said. “We’ve got an administration and school board that provides what we need. Good instruments and a schedule so we can work with the kids. Another thing we do is we share kids. Kids can play football and run over during halftime and play with the band, then go play the rest of the game. We’ve got a lot of great kids who do different things and they do it well and they get support.”

They’ve managed to get the best out of the Yellowjackets band even though the “Sound of the Swarm” is ineligible to compete in the UIL State tournament in November.

“Well, we just try to teach our kids to strive for excellence,” Brannon explained. “If there’s not a big trophy at the end, that’s not what we’re working for anyway. Just be good at what you do. Excellence is excellence. Don’t just go out there to win. It doesn’t matter what the year is; if you’re working toward that, everything else takes care of itself.”

Brannon is assisted by Dago Gonzalez, Tyler Broadhurst and Stephanie Castor.

Also at the East Texas Music Awards, former Mineola music instructor John DeFoore was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the founder and lead instructor for the DeFoore Music Institute. After playing and teaching for 10 years in the Dallas, he moved to East Texas 1989 and taught in Mineola. His students included Kacey Musgraves of Mineola, Miranda Lambert of Lindale, Michelle Shocked, Casey Rivers, Jon Wolfe, Jeff Allen, and Ryan Beaver. He now lives in Tyler.