News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today

Cathy D. Wahl

Decatur High band members revel with jazz, rock saxophonist

Four members of the Decatur High School marching band got a little "Jumbotron" time during halftime of the Champ Sports Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 21.

The DHS band joined more than 1,400 musicians from other high schools and the bands from Syracuse University and Georgia Tech for the halftime spectacular. After the band finished its part of the massed halftime show, the marching musicians were supposed to crowd around a stage where two "singers" were performing the show's finale.

DHS saxophone players Amanda Barnette, Lauren Gentry, Ryan Collins and Steve Driskell found themselves dancing at the front of the stage, where the Jumbotron camera operators picked them and their bright red uniforms out of the crowd — not once but twice.

The DHS saxophone section also spent several minutes one-on-one with famed jazz and rock saxophonist Michael Philips, best known for his work with Prince (or the artist formerly known as). After a practice before the game, Philips came down off the stage to commune and hob-nob with his fellow sax players from the many bands.

Philips spent several minutes with five of the Decatur students, talking about saxophones, music, and notes that are so high there is no fingering for them on a saxophone.

During their four-day trip, the band, several chaperones and band director Robbie Stout toured Sea World and two of the Universal Studios theme parks. The band also got an unexpected view of history, watching from their buses as the Decatur-built Delta rocket launched from nearby Kennedy Space Center.

Elvis, the King

Decatur Christian Women's Club will celebrate Elvis Presley's birthday at their January meeting.

Instead of the usual Friday luncheon, DCWC members will meet Jan. 8 for brunch at 10 a.m. at Decatur Country Club.

Reserve a space by Wednesday by calling Clarice Kessinger at 301-9196 or Sue Johnson at 353-5180, or e-mail Sue at Free child care is provided courtesy Doctors Ellis, Ray, Keller and Loncar. Just mention that you need child care arrangements when you make your reservation.

Bring your Elvis memorabilia to display. Winners in an Elvis trivia contest will get the door prizes this month.

Blake Spicer of Guntersville will entertain with "The King's" songs. Kim Spicer, Blake's wife, will give an inspirational talk entitled "At a Fork in the Road, Use Your Spoon." Kim earned a degree in journalism from Georgia State University with a minor in acting. She has worked as an actress, writer and television director.

Newcomer Alums

Michelle Giordano opened her Southwest Decatur home to host the December luncheon meeting of the Decatur Newcomers' Alumnae Club.

Michelle and her mother, Elise Means, whipped up a delicious ham and turkey lunch with side dishes provided by members. Betty Higginson brought a hash brown casserole. Marjorie Hines prepared a green salad, and Betty Chen put together a chicken and rice dish. Diane Donahue added pineapple dressing and Joan Crayton contributed a savory macaroni and cheese.

The dessert table overflowed with sweets, including Jan Hooper's gorgeous Red Velvet Cake, Anna Troutt's and Barbara Stark's cookie trays and Susan Slavik's freshly-made banana pudding.

Jan won the door prize after lunch.

Michelle read a Christmas poem that directed gift trading to make sure nobody went home with the gift she brought. Gifts included candles, vases, picture frames, a craft apron, dried flowers and a set of dumbbells for after-holiday exercising.

Joining the gift exchange were Connie Gadecki, Elizabeth King, Carolyn Chirrey and guest Christine Walls.

Newcomer Alums will meet Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. at the Wheeler Basin Regional Library in Decatur. Former members of the Newcomers Club of Decatur are eligible for membership. Call Carolyn Chirrey at 350-9574.

High stepping

The Capitol Steps, a political comedy troupe, continues the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts' 2004-2005 Professional Series on Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

This five-member group of Congressional staffers-turned-comedians travels the states satirizing the very people and places that once employed them and earning new praises. Friday's performance is sponsored by the Decatur-Hartselle Physicians and WLRH-FM, with grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since 1984, the Capitol Steps have recorded 24 comedy albums chronicling the adventures of four presidents.

Reserved tickets range from $25 to $40, with a student and teacher discount ticket of $25. The Princess Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. For information and tickets, call 340-1778 or visit

Call your "Chatterbox" news to Cathy D. Wahl at 350-6983 or mail to 1225 Regency Blvd. S.E., Decatur, AL 35601. Fax to 350-6983 or e-mail to

Cathy D. Wahl Cathy D. Wahl
DAILY Staff Writer

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