The Western Carolina University “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band is recognized both regionally and nationally as one of the premier university marching bands in the nation. This year the PotM has been invited to lead the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 27th! The band has also performed at the 122nd Annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California (2011) and two NFL Halftime performances at both Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons football games. In 2009, they were awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation that recognizes one collegiate marching band bi-annually, for their outstanding achievement, innovative show design and performance excellence. They are also well known for their multiple Bands of America Regional and Grand National Exhibition performances.

The “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band produces marching band shows that are familiar to listeners of all ages, programming melodies from a wide array of styles including rock, pop, swing, hip-hop, electronic, classic rock and even classical music. Shows are written with audience entertainment in mind but in a modern marching band and drum and bugle corps style. It is WCU's goal for the audience to leave having experienced a musical and visual presentation that will forever be remembered, as well as challenge our band students to achieve excellence.

WCU 2014 program notes continued below...

WCU 2014 - "Street Beatz" - Percussion Feature

WCU 2014 Production - "Street Beatz" - Part I

WCU 2013 Production WCU 2012 Production

2014 program notes continued...

The students and staff of the 2014 “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band are proud to present their 2014 production entitled, “Street Beatz.” A leadership team, comprised of over 90 students, have planned, recruited and trained the band in an effort to maintain the traditions of the program while elevating musical and visual expectations. With freshmen membership numbering over 200 and an incredibly high percentage of veteran members returning, the 2014 “Pride of the Mountains” marching band totals 505 students and will continue to set performance standards, while pushing the envelope for innovation and entertainment.

The production is designed and implemented by the Directors of the band, David Starnes, Director of Athletic Bands, Matt Henley, Associate Director of Athletic Bands and Jon Henson, Associate Director of Athletic Bands. The Percussion section is written for and instructed by Matt Henley and Jon Henson. Wind arrangements are by Mr. Robert W. Smith and drill design is by Mr. Michael Gaines. With the reputation the “Pride of the Mountains” enjoys nationally, these gentlemen are prime contributors to the entertainment and excitement centered upon this year’s production.

As previously stated, the “Pride of the Mountains” marching band will travel to New York City to perform in the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In conceptualizing this year’s halftime production, they wanted to take the membership and audience on a tour of “The Big Apple,” even before the Mountains arrive at Macy’s.

“Street Beatz” is comprised of four separate sections with each representing an iconic facet of New York City. The band will enter the field in a rush hour traffic environment, as members head to work in crowded streets of the city. Our opening melody pays homage to “the city that never sleeps” with the Alicia Keys, favorite, “Empire State of Mind.” Our musical travelogue of NYC begins with “99 Red Balloons,” by Nena, that will serve as our eventual arrival at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade where red balloons and high-flying cartoon characters have become the signature of the parade. Fans of Green Day and The Doobie Brothers will recognize their signature hits including “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Taking It To The Streets,” as we conclude our departure from uptown Manhattan.

Our next stop occurs in Greenwich Village where some of the most famous jazz musicians in the world have performed. After opening with Billy Joel’s ever-popular, “New York State of Mind,” we will explore the urban soul of “The Village,” with Flo Rida’s, “How I Feel,” featuring an iconic rap that characterizes the heartbeat of today’s music. Big band enthusiasts will recognize Earl Hagen’s, “Harlem Nocturne,” recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Harry James, and Duke Ellington, among others. This section concludes with an exciting musical marriage of “New York State of Mind” and “Harlem Nocturne” through the musical craftsmanship of Robert W. Smith.

Audience members may want to remain in The Village, but our entourage must move further downtown to our next destination, Times Square! Here we will experience the magic that includes lights, music, and energy that is sure to have everyone’s adrenaline pumping. Known for “what in the world will they do next?” our percussion and rhythm sections will amplify minds with a sensory overload of lights, sound, and a glimpse of street musicians that will not soon be forgotten. Look for animated drill that will literally “show” you our “beatz.” Music of DJ Snake, Yellow Claw, and Lil’ John make up the collage of craziness that characterizes this stop along our city tour.

Our entire journey through the streets of New York has led us to one of the most recognizable streets in the world…34th Street, the home of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade…we have arrived! In a parade-like environment, the band will perform My Chemical Romance’s, “Welcome to the Black Parade,” preparing for an experience unlike any audience has seen or heard. Is the suspense too much too handle? What will happen next will make other marching bands “green” with envy! In the words of NBC’s, Al Roker, “Let’s Have A Parade!”

Enjoy the 2014 “Pride of the Mountains” production of “Street Beatz.” No one says it better than vocalist, Alicia Keys… “These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York!”

Instructional and Design Team
David Starnes, Director of Athletic Bands
Matt Henley, Assistant Director of Athletic Bands
Jon Henson, Assistant Director of Athletic Bands
Robert W. Smith, Music Arranger
Michael Gaines, Drill Designer
Bob Buckner, Pregame Drill Designer
Bobby Richardson, Colorguard Director
Ian Lewis, Colorguard Choreographer
Brittany Mastromatteo, Colorguard Technician
Scott Lanning, “Purple & Red Shirt” Drumline(s) Director
Chelsea Levine, Cymbal Instructor

Staff Coordinators
Charity Denton, Lily Gayeski, Chris Smith, and Jasmin Tockes

Drum Majors
Joel Jeffries, Victoria Johnson, Avery Surratt,a dn Brandon Truitt

Caption Coordinators
Justin Beebe, Jamie McDonald, Alaina Seidle, Daniel Scott, and Ward Wilson

Check out these previous year's clips from the WCU drumline!

 VFU SPOTLIGHT: The WCU Pride of the Mountains Drumline
  The Western Carolina University performs Work It! Parts I and II.
 NEW VFU SPOTLIGHT: The WCU Pride of the Mountains Drumline
  The Western Carolina University performs Work It! Parts III and IV.

For more about the WCU Drumline
including audition information
visit them online at:


Matt Henley is the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at Western Carolina University, which includes assisting with the Sudler Trophy winning "Pride of the Mountains" marching band and the two "Cathouse Bands." One of Mr. Henley's primary duties is the marching percussion program at WCU. This includes teaching and arranging for the marching ensemble.

Matt earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Western Carolina University, and has played with and instructed such groups as the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps, the Limestone College Percussion Studio, the Tuscola High School Percussion Program, Showband Gifhorn, and the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. His high school groups have performed at the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival, numerous North Carolina Days of Percussion, and have won the Open Class CIPA Percussion Championship along with many years of successful marching band high percussion awards. He has served as the Chief Percussion Judge for the Carolina Indoor Performance Association and has written for groups in Germany, Canada, Hawaii, and the continental United States.

Mr. Henley was recently asked to write for and instruct the first two All-American Marching Bands in San Antonio, TX in 2008 and 2009. This group was promoted by MENC and the US Army. He was also nominated for the College of Fine and Performing Arts Excellence in Teaching Award, and serves as the recruiting liaison for the School of Music and the Office of Admissions at Western.

In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Henley composes, arranges, adjudicates, and is a prominent percussion clinician across the United States. He is a member of CBDNA, MENC, IARP, PAS, and proudly supports products from Yamaha, Remo, Zildjian, and Vic Firth companies. He resides with his wife Angie and son Landon in Clyde, NC.


Jon Henson is the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at Western Carolina University. Some of his primary duties are to instructor and arrange for the rhythm section or "Soul Train" and the front ensemble. Some of Jon's other duties include the management of all aspects of the "Pride of the Mountains" electronics as well as developing media for the band program. He also works with the "Pride of the Mountains" two “Cathouse Bands.” While an assistant director with the “Pride of the Mountains” the band has performed exhibitions at several Bands of America Regionals including two Grand National Championship appearances as well as halftime at the Carolina Panthers Football Game. The band also marched 400+ in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Within the School of Music Jon teaches courses in Music Technology and Commercial and Electronic Music including courses in Live Sound Management. Mr. Henson has been a guest presenter for many functions including the National Collegiate Athletic Band Symposium, the North Carolina Music Educators Annual Conference and also the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Conference. Jon has been a consultant for many articles referring to technology in the marching arts including “Halftime Magazine” and also the MENC magazine “Teaching Music”. In the Spring of 2011 Mr. Henson formed the Mountain Winds Community Band. He serves as the Director and conductor of this 75 member ensemble.

During the spring semester Jon serves as Director and Arranger for "Electric Soul". This ensemble consists of Vocalist, Horns, and a full Rhythm Section performing music from the 70's to the music of today! This ensemble tours annually and recently performed at the Roanoke Festival Park in Manteo, NC and in the Disney Resorts in Florida.

In 2009 the “Pride of the Mountains” was presented the Sudler Trophy, the highest award recognized by collegiate marching bands. Outside of the "Pride of the Mountains" Jon is a sought after percussion writer, adjudicator, and instructor for bands across the South East. He has also taught in various public school music programs in Western North Carolina including North Buncombe High School and Tuscola High School. In 2012 Jon released his interactive DVD on Mallet and Front Ensemble techniques. Technical Tune-ups is carried by Marching Show Concepts. Jon is also the Co-Producer of Maximizing Movement. This fundamental marching DVD is also carried by Marching Show Concepts. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 Jon has served as an Assistant Director and front ensemble arranger of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. In 2013 Jon will serve on the Instructional Staff for the Bands of America National Honor Band in the Tournament of Roses Parade. He earned both his BSEd and MAEd degrees in music from Western Carolina University. Jon is a member of MENC, PAS, CBDNA, and is a Vic Firth, Remo, and Zildjian endorsed artist.

The WCU Drumline use Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets Exclusively.