Pride organizes community band

Western North Carolina musicians who played in high school or college bands are invited to join a new Jackson County-based community band called Mountain Winds.

Jon Henson, assistant director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, said he decided to organize the band in response to interest from community members who share a love of music, want to develop their musical skills, and enjoy the camaraderie and experience of performing as a group.

“It has been a topic of discussion for a while, and I finally decided to try and make it a reality,” said Henson. “I hope that faculty and community members who have past band experience will come out and play. We have had a lot of interest already.”

Mountain Winds will rehearse weekly in WNC high schools and on the WCU campus. Interested members are indicating which dates and times work best for rehearsal through an online registration form available at the Mountain Winds website, which is linked from the lower right hand side of the Pride of the Mountains website at

The group will be under the direction of Henson and Bob Buckner, director of athletic bands at WCU.

Under Buckner’s leadership, WCU’s marching band received the 2009 Sudler Trophy, the nation’s highest award for college and university marching bands, and has performed at national events including the 2011 Rose Parade. He also served as director of bands at Sylva-Webster High School from 1966 to 1979, during which the band won national honors including the 1979 Bands of America championship. He is the founder of United Music Enterprises, a band consulting firm that creates championship shows for bands throughout the United States and Europe.

Henson serves as an instructor and arranges music for the Pride’s “Soul Train” rhythm section and the front ensemble, manages electronics and develops media for the band program. He also works with the Pride’s two Cathouse Bands. Within the School of Music, he teaches courses in music technology, and commercial and electronic music.

Mountain Winds is a nonprofit organization supported by member dues, donations, sponsors and grants. For more information, visit or contact band organizers at 828-227-2711 or