More than 50 bands expected to perform at 54th annual Central California Band Review in Merced

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comOctober 31, 2013 

— One of Merced’s biggest community events, the Central California Band Review, is expected to draw more than 50 bands and about 10,000 people when the music begins Nov. 9.

The storied band review, in its 54th year, takes place at Golden Valley High School in Merced, drawing youthful musicians from Paradise to Hanford and Santa Cruz to Oakhurst.

Michael Vasquez, director of the Golden Valley Cardinal Regime band, which is host of the event, remembers competing in the band review in 1989 when he was a student at Hoover Middle School.

“This is the longest-standing band review in the San Joaquin Valley,” Vasquez said. “Some of the best music educators in the state are from the San Joaquin Valley. It is the premier event in Central California.”

Jim Bonstein Jr., president of the Golden Valley Band Boosters, which conducts the band review, said staging the event is always a big process. There are about 80 core volunteers, supplemented by UC Merced Golden Bobcats band members and California State University, Fresno, students as well as Golden Valley band members and leadership students.

Bonstein said many local businesses send representatives to help with the event. Organizers are trying to bring back the concluding field show at Golden Valley’s Veterans Stadium. After the 6 p.m. field show, the event concludes with the awards ceremonies at 8.

Local accountant Grey Roberts was involved in the band review from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s, including being its chairman for several years. He remembers when the band review was held along West Main Street, then West 18th Street, and on Yosemite Avenue near Merced College before it moved to Childs Avenue in front of Golden Valley High.

“It’s a great event,” Roberts said. “It was a big deal. It’s a fairly complicated process putting on the band review and it can get a little dicey at times.”

The parade is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Golden Valley as the last band. The jazz competition in the Golden Valley Theater runs 8:25 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. As the host band, the Cardinal Regime is not competing for awards, but its students help meet the needs of visiting musicians.

Vasquez said Capuchino High School in San Bruno is competing for the first time, and Fresno’s Bullard High School is returning after a lengthy absence. Brand-new El Capitan High School in Merced will be making its first appearance.

Most middle school and high school bands typically perform at three to six band reviews each fall, Vasquez said.

Jamie Hawks, the 2013 event coordinator and the mother of a junior in the Golden Valley band, said there are 28 sponsors on board for the event.

“It takes a lot of volunteers to coordinate a huge event like this,” Hawks said. “Fortunately, we have a great team of people who have been involved with CCBR for years – even once their kids have graduated and moved on – who are helping to keep this running smooth, filling in blanks, brainstorming areas that we can improve on.”

Parade competitors will be Our Lady of Mercy School, Merced; Livingston Middle School, Livingston; Yolo Middle School, Newman; El Portal Middle School, Escalon; Hoover Middle School, Merced; Winton Middle School, Winton; Cruickshank, Rivera and Tenaya middle schools, Merced; Los Banos Junior High School, Los Banos; Yosemite High School, Oakhurst; Capuchino High School, San Bruno; Turlock Christian, Turlock; Mariposa High School, Mariposa; Orestimba High School, Newman; Paradise High School, Paradise; Gustine High School, Gustine; Central Valley High, Ceres; San Ramon Valley High School, Danville; El Capitan High, Merced; Chowchilla High School, Chowchilla; Santa Cruz High School, Santa Cruz; Livermore High School, Livermore; San Benito High School, Hollister; Livingston High School, Livingston; Sunnyside High School, Clovis; Benicia High School, Benicia; Merced High School, Merced; Hanford West High School, Hanford; Buhach Colony High School, Atwater; Armijo High School, Fairfield; Pitman High School, Turlock; Atwater High School, Atwater; Bullard High School, Fresno; Concord High School, Concord; and Golden Valley High School, Merced.

Jazz competitors include Cruickshank and Tenaya middle schools, Livingston, Benicia, Hanford West, Concord and Turlock high schools, Caroline Davis Middle School, Bernal Intermediate, and San Ramon, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Pitman, Merced and San Ramon high schools.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or

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