In the spirit of Friday Night Lights comes the stirring story of a marching band from small-town middle America.
Every fall, marching bands take to the field in a uniquely American ritual. For millions of kids, band is a rite of passage—a first foray into leadership and adult responsibility, and a chance to learn what it means to be a part of a community. Nowhere is band more serious than at Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana, where the entire town is involved with the success of its defending state champion band, the Marching Minutemen.
In the place where this tradition may have originated, in the city that became the band instrument capital of the world, band is a religion. But it’s not the only religion—as legendary director Max Jones discovers when conflicting notions of faith and purpose collide during his final year as director. In this intimate chronicle, the band marches through a season that starts in hope and promise, progresses through uncertainty and disappointment, and ends, ultimately, in redemption.
In 2004, first-time author Laine immersed herself in Elkhart, Indiana's Concord High School Marching Minutemen, a 240-plus ensemble preparing to defend its state title, and emerges with a detailed and intimate account that delves deep into the rarified world of competitive high school marching and the students, parents and teachers devoted to it. Max Jones is the band's hard-nosed director, in his final season at Concord, and just beginning to fall out of touch with his young charges; students, meanwhile, juggle social and spiritual concerns with their all-consuming commitment to the Minutemen (practicing more hours than even the football players). In the stories of a trumpeter whose mother contracts terminal cancer, a clarinetist who longs for her native California and a drum-line captain who aspires to West Point, Laine finds an intriguing sample of small-town, red-state Middle America's next generation. Her descriptions of field performances-from the earliest planning stages to their in-competition execution-are intricate, but fail to convey their power or majesty; in addition, Laine's emphasis on narrative observation over direct quotes gives the work a magazine feature feel. Still, Laine brings passion, curiosity and affection to her heartland chronicle, ideal for anyone who's ever marked time with an instrument at the ready.