Monster Band alive and well at Eastern Arizona College; final semester performance at Safford Light Parade on Dec. 7

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Eastern Arizona Band Director Geoff DeSpain was elevated by Christian Clement and Jacob Culver following the Monster Bands’ performance. The 54th EAC Band Day was held in mid-October with 14 high school bands competing for ratings on John Mickelson Field.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

THATCHER – Seven community college games were played on John Mickelson Field last fall, but none this term. There is no longer a football program at Eastern Arizona College. It ceased to exist following the 2018 Mississippi Bowl in early December.

Since there is no longer a football team, the perception was . . . there is no marching band.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Percussion section leader Favian Gastellum and clarinetist Michaela Basteen move to their next formation while playing.

Yes, Virginia, there is a marching band. It remains listed in the most updated course catalog available, the online version, as MUS 111 and MUS 112. The band is part of the ensemble group offerings of the music department, with two credits for each.

“Our band grew by four members the first event we played in this semester,” 12th-year director Geoff DeSpain said. “We played at the Monster Bash (freshman orientation) and had four students come up and say they didn’t know we had a marching band. They signed up.”

The Monster Band has performed at the Graham County Fair, for several area high school football games, and in the Pinetop Fall Festival parade during a 3-day tour of the White Mountains. The football games were in Fort Thomas, Pima, Safford, and Thatcher.

It also performed on Mickelson Field as the final group during its day-long sponsored 54th Band Day in mid-October. A total of 14 high schools competed, five in the 1A/2A class, six in the 3A/4A class, and three in the open class.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Drum major Jacob Culver uses streamers as part of the Monster Band’s performance.

Four selections presented by the Monster Band capped the day’s entertainment. The group congratulated DeSpain and a couple of students elevated him on their shoulders following the performance. The awards presentations were made shortly afterward.

Most of the class time throughout the semester has been taken up rehearsing music. A final performance of the fall semester will be made during the Safford Light Parade on Main Street Saturday, Dec. 7.

The current 56-member Monster Band includes students from all academic disciplines, with some who auditioned for scholarships. Its instrumentation includes eight flutes, six clarinets, three alto saxophones, three tenor saxophones, five trumpets, a French horn, three trombones, two baritones, two Sousaphones, and nine percussionists. There is also a baton twirler, three dancers; six flag line members, two drum majors, a dance coach, and a flag coach.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tenor saxophone players, from left, Brandon Welch, Jade Del Angel, and Alexandra Rodriguez were part of the 56-member Monster Band.

Individual woodwind members include Flutes: Keely Blake, Jasmyn Del Angel, Maizie Edmunds, Emmalee Hall, Katerine Leake, Jorden Martinez, Terena Ward, and section leader Heidi Shiflet; Clarinets: Michaela Basteen, Isabel Castruita, Bailey Pearce, Marikah Porter, Maura Shumway, and section leader Lauryn Hall; Alto Saxophones: Jessica Del Angel, Fabiola Lopez, and section leader Stephen Bell; and Tenor Saxophones: Jade Del Angel, Alexander Rodriguez, and section leader Brandon Welch.

The brass members are Trumpets: Jason Crandall, Camille Hudson, Carlee Saline, Shawn Wayne, and section leader Arali Eaton; French horn: Rebecca Clark; Trombones: Noelle Lunt, John Lunt, and Travis Shumway; Baritones: Anna Leake and section leader Jaren Walker; Sousaphones: Emily Knight and section leader Zach Hurst.

Percussion members are Benji Burke, Christian Clement, Kenna Despain, David Gabbitas, Caleb Perkins, Brianne Thompson, Adam Wright, Emmitt Younger, and section leader Favian Gastellum.

The Auxillary members include baton twirler Eddie Gibson; dancers Brayanna Rivera, Kelsi Claridge, and Becca Rocko; and flags Aubrey Baker, Maya Baldwin, Lorina Higginbotham, Tianna Lambson, Ashlyn Pierce, and Samantha Voelker.

Jacob Culver and Brittany Ewing are the drum majors, Martin Moreno the dance coach and Lacey Hemp the flag coach.