If you’re hearing sousaphones in the stadium, bass drums in your base camp or clarinets on the CONSOL Energy Bridge, you’ve likely run into the Jamboree Band, the Summit Bechtel Reserve’s preeminent musical ensemble. Made up of 75 Scout and Venturer musicians from across the United States, the band has been known to try anything and show up anywhere.
“If Jamboree is the cake, we’re the icing,” says George Pinchock, the band’s head director. Pinchock, who directs the pep band at Villanova University, works with eight other high school and middle school band directors to organize rehearsals and performances ranging from base camp bash appearances to flash mobs to field trips.
Pinchock is known for “pushing to keep it interesting and fresh,” says band director Todd Johnson. That’s evident in the lyrics they’ve added to many of their charts, the swordfighting band members during their rendition of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, and the screaming piccolo player who opens Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
As a result, band members are clearly enjoying themselves — returning member and Eagle Scout Gideon Zoeller calls the Jamboree Band the “most fun staff to be on” — but that’s not to say they don’t work hard. The band first met on Sunday, July 16, and underwent an intensive three-day rehearsal process before first performing Tuesday night at the Echo Base Camp Bash.
The rehearsals don’t end there, however. The directors are constantly adding music and trying new things. On Saturday morning, the band sight-read “Hail to the Chief” in anticipation of a possible performance for newly announced jamboree visitor President Donald J. Trump.
The band’s hard work is clearly paying off. They get noticed by jamboree participants, visitors and staff wherever they go. Pinchock says a band member once commented he “felt like a rock star” because of the amount of attention the band draws. When the band popped up at Legacy Village for a surprise performance, Life Scout Michael H. said he “thought they were amazing,” and, having heard them start playing from far away, ran to watch.
Pinchock says they constantly update their repertoire with the latest hits to best entertain their youthful audiences, but the tradition of a Jamboree Band goes all the way back to the first National Jamboree in 1937. Since then, the program has added multiple spin-off groups, including a jazz band, rock band and brass ensemble. In 2010, the band had the special opportunity to perform in front of thousands with the U.S. Army Band’s Herald Trumpets.
The jamboree offers plenty of opportunities to see the band. They’re scheduled to perform at Base Camp Bashes for Alpha, Bravo and Delta and at special events around the Summit, and they may even pop up unexpectedly one or two more times in the Summit Center. They’ll go out with a bang by performing a special patriotic medley onstage at the closing stadium show on Thursday.
To get up close and personal with the Jamboree Band, bring your instrument to rehearse and perform with them at 10 a.m. Wednesday in their rehearsal space behind the AT&T Summit Stadium.