PHS senior Jonathan Hall
PHS senior Jonathan Hall
If marching band has its own major leagues, then Philadelphia High School senior Jonathan Hall is ready for his first at-bat with the pros.

Hall was recently selected to play fifth bass drum in the prestigious Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps, based in Mobile, Ala. It is a performing musical group originally founded in 1980 in Montgomery, Ala. Southwind is part of Drum Corps International, which is a non-profit governing body for junior drum and bugle corps in the United States and Canada.

"It's considered part of DCI, which is considered like the major leagues of marching band," Hall said. "We go at the end every month and have rehearsals. The entire month of June and July, we go and tour the entire South. It's a step up from high school and college marching band."

Hall said the group has a total of 57 members who come from all over the Southern states. The audition camps, he said, were the most taxing of the whole process.

"I had to go to an audition camp over the weekend of Jan. 3," Hall said. "I tried out and then I got a call back to play bass, so I had to do another camp for auditioning. It was the longest two weekends of my life."

After two grueling weekends, Hall finally got some good news.

"I went there and did my best, and the Sunday of the second camp the percussion director came and offered me the contract," he said. "I'm extremely excited, but I'm also very humbled about it. My parents have always taught me that if I do my best, God will do the rest."

Philadelphia schools Superintendent Lisa Hull was enthusiastic upon learning Hall was selected for Southwind.

"Jonathan is a tremendous musical student here at Philadelphia High School," Hull said. 

"We are so proud of him that he took the challenge to go try out. That is something very few band students do, let alone make the corps.

" He puts in the extra time to hone in his skills so that he is one of the best percussion players in the area, around the state, and in this case, around the southeastern United States."

The Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps went inactive in 2007, but returned in 2011. Hall said trying out for a drum corps was a goal of his, and the long history of Southwind helped him determine which drum corps for which he was best suited.

"I saw this group when I went to go see DCI live at Southern Mississippi," he said. "I was always wanting to be part of a drum corps. I looked up the closest drum corps and it happened to be Southwind and one in Louisiana.

"I had heard of Southwind and saw them perform, and I thought it would be really cool to try out for them.

"It was probably one of the most exciting things I had heard in my life when they told me I made it."

Southwind has a rigorous travel schedule once performances start.

According to the Southwind website, they are planning for a two week tour this summer with 10 days of all-day practices before the tour begins. Hall said he could not disclose the nature of their performance, but "it's something you're going to want to see."