Here's my view of some things in reference to New Orleans Mass and AllStar mash-ups over the years both pre and post Katrina. It seems like every time there's an event involving bands playing as a unit; to the general public those bands are commonly identified as "The "New Orleans All Star Band”. Usually the people who promote it that way IMO have been loosely Infringing on name the Original NO Public Schools All Star Band by Tying these bands together some how. This particular entry may confuse you, but its here only to bring some clarity to the Names and foundations of these bands.It all started in 1999 with the debut of a High School All-Star Marching band in the City of New Orleans. This band was put together to benefit the Orleans Parish vs. Jefferson Parish All Star football Tournament. Originally thought up in 1998, This All-Star band was the #1 Representative of New Orleans Public Schools which at the time were all associated under the Orleans Parish School Board. This band was originally made up of The Top High School Senior Bandsmen in the City. as chosen by their band directors from each public high school in Orleans Parish.
Over time the band began to allow members of all grade levels to perform. This is mainly because certain bands didn't participate each year. There were also some unsupported directors who backed away leaving their students to get to practices at their own means of transportation. Some didn't even allow their students to take home an instrument or band suit to perform. As the band decreased in size, Participating directors started allowing students from lower leveled classes to take part in the program. This allowed students who weren't as seasoned on their instrument to "Stomp with the Big dogs" Per se. I for example was a Jr. at the time I was selected. The Youngest student in that band was in 8th grade.
In it's 5 year existence the band had Taken part in many events, mostly local, some with regional and national exposure; Including events such as NFL games, HBCU football games and televised parades. This band was a great entity in Louisiana and maybe for 3 years straight the best marching band in Louisiana.. The Band was not only a great asset to the Football game, but. It also benefited students in a great way. Before there were social networking websites The NOPS All-Star band was the way we communicated with our fellow bandsmen who were not from our schools or local area. It was a Benefactor of decreasing fights at School events, while also keeping rivalries intact.
Since its inception here have been a plethora of All Star and; Community bands throughout Louisiana as well as among other southern states. Many of the States’ all star bands have grown largely and gained popularity over time and each take part in annual All Star Band Battle Competitions each year. None with the same purpose as the NOPS All Star's..
For Instance, there was Baton Rouge All Star band. Which was a city wide band, but had no connection to the city schools. Eventually that band became what we know today as Louisiana Leadership Institute All-Star Band, which is probably the greatest High School All-Star band in the history of Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina as the band was invited to the 2007 Rose Bowl, that band also allowed Students New Orleans and other near by Louisiana cities to participate. Creating sort of a state wide band All-star band which in my opinion was where that band was supposed to be taken regardless of the fact that the primary location is in Baton Rouge, LA.
This Brings me back to New Orleans
Due to Katrina recovery The OPSB (Orleans Parish School Board) does not govern as many schools as they did in the past, which is one of the reasons the Original NOPS All-Star band did not continue. Because of this, Bands, and Drum Corps have come and gone. But only few have worked out as planned since.
.To the best of my knowledge I will List them all here, both by name and purpose of existence.
2006-07 The During the Restoration of New Orleans' Black Catholic Schools, a school called MAX came about to house the students belonging to to St. Mary's Academy, St. Augustine and Xavier Preparatory High School bands. It was the first time in each schools history that they had to go "Co-Ed". What came out of that was the MAX Band. It only existed until each school opened separately..
in 2007 The Roots of Music Program was started to educate elementary and Middle School students who have interest in band. as well as to restore the feeder system for high school bands. Since then a number of middle schools have re-incorporated band programs. but it doesn't make up for those schools which don't have a band, or is not open till this day, .Roots of Music has sense been a leading program and in its own right is an All-Star band of some sort. (That’s why I decided to speak on it)...
in 2008, a band Mass Band was formed to take part in an event in which I didn't attend. This band was dubbed "The New NOASB" , but I saw clips, some where decent, Over all It should have been way better. I was happy it existed, simply because Bands that were not in existence pre-Katrina were able to take part in this band. St. Augustine High School even took part in this band. They were not part of the Original band of course because they're not a public school. With that said, this band had no connection to the Original All-Star band.
2009 2010...The Band we now know as the "New Orleans Alumni All-Star Band" was actually created to take part in a Middle school Band Event as a special "ending" performance. Practices went for nearly a month but fell off due to Time Restraints and lack of participation. Because of this battle, it allowed those middle school directors to have their bands form together as well.. .In Summmer 2010 The Alumni and became shocked the southwestern region in summer 2010 by debuting for the first time at the GHASB All Star Battle of the bands. This eventually sparked off a battle involving a band created specifically to take us on. That band was the Houston United Mass Band. Many goals were accomplished because of the Cooperation between the bands.
In May of 2010 with the unfortunate Murder of Local Saxophonist, Brandon Franklin, A mass band of New Orleans' student and Alumni was put together In Brandon's Honor as part of his home-going services.
The Brandon Franklin All-Star Band, as it was officially named by Directors Wilburt Rawlins and Eric Jones, at the time had gained popularity online due to taped practices which went Viral, as well as by its participants as one of New Orleans Greatest Bands Ever. You can read about this band HERE.
The BFASB Tied the Pre Katrina Bandsmen to its Post Katrina Successors basically and Has made its mark playing a roll in our City's bands Recovery. It showed that Our Bandsmen Care not only for a Fellow Bandsmen, but for the Bands of New Orleans.
Due to Various discussions on band sites, there was confusion regarding the two Mass Bands. so on Various occasions I along with some others, here explaining the difference of those bands.
As stated in the beginning of this entry, Outside of These all star or Mass bands mention, there were other mash ups both recent and in the past, also Dubbed the "New Orleans All Star Band".. This title is often miss-applied. but It's all in good spirits of the our Band community.
With that said. Here's basically a list those bands mentioned. Along with some others I didn't mention.
1999 to 05- New Orleans Public Schools All Star Band, NOPSASB
1999 - Hustlers Band (A Band started to aid a local Semi Pro football team)
2006's MAX band.
2007New New Orleans All Star Band" (New NOASB)
2008 The Roots of Music Program for Kids
2009. New Orleans Alumni All Star Band (NOAASB / NO Alumni Band)
2010 Brandon Franklin All Star Band - BFASB / New Orleans Mass Band
Lastly.. There may have been lots i forgot to mention in this entry. Aside all of these great bands coming about, The Directors, Alumni and Observers and supporters are speaking out discussing Every Issue concerning the state our or cities music programs. From the things I've read and witnessed, I know that our bands will be moving onward to rank high in LA, and also Nation Wide.