The Unforgettable Bob Barr and the Best Band in the Land, the Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Marching Band!

by John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

Please click onto the link provided below and read a terrific, emotional, and very cheerful story about a man who turned a rag-tag band into the best high school band in the nation.  He loved these poor kids at Jordan – many were very poor “mill kids” – and even bullied and badgered them when he had to, often breaking his baton into small pieces and throwing them at the band member whose music was not on note.  But, these band members loved him dearly…because they knew that he loved them and believed in them.

Jordan Vocational High School, Columbus, Georgia, 1950.

I know several of the men and women whose lives were influenced by the unforgettable Bob Barr.  Many went on to very successful careers in music, education, and business.  The author of the piece below is Dick McMichael who was in Bob Barr’s first band at Jordan Vocational High School (JVHS).  Mr. McMichael was a TV anchor man in Columbus, Georgia for years.  I remember him well growing up in Columbus.  Early each morning, I could hear the Jordan band practicing up on the hill before I left for school each day – all through my elementary, junior high, and high school days.  And what a treat to watch the JVHS Red Jacket Band march at half-time of a football game!  The lights would go out, and the lights on the members’ helmets would come on, and the torched batons would light the sky!  Unlike other high school bands in the area, the Jordan band wore the “high hats” and the white spats on their white shoes.  The Jordan band was the bomb!

I have indelible memories of Bob Barr when I was growing up.  I loved the Red Jacket Band.  I still get chill bumps remembering it playing “The Saint Louis Blues.”  What’s wrong with these dumbass educrats today who don’t realize the value of the arts and band in our schools?!

My father coached football at Jordan and was later an administrator at the school.  My brother and I played sports and never were worth a plugged nickel in music.  We couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.  But, even the athletes appreciated the fact that our band was second to none, performing all over the country, including cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.  The football coaches would sneak out of the locker room to watch the JVHS band perform at half-time!

But, isn’t it sad that great teachers like Bob Barr would be snuffed out as an educator today because of the creativity-killing snoopervisors using those confounded mind-less fill-in-the-bubble evaluation forms?  Bob Barr would have been written up in today’s environment for “insulting” the students or using “sarcasm.”  Shhh.  What about “building for transfer” or “promoting engagement”?  These mindless boobs who are being promoted into administration these days would not recognize true “promoting engagement” if it hit them square in the face?  When Mr. Barr told the young Dick McMichael that of all the instruments that he not could play was the drums and therefore Dick had to be the teacher of the drum section, was this “promoting engagement” or would today’s supervisors write up Mr. Barr for treating Dick McMichael differently?

You have to read this very inspiring story, a story that is being made into a movie, The Sound of Perfection.

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2 Responses to The Unforgettable Bob Barr and the Best Band in the Land, the Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Marching Band!

  1. IamWolfen says:

    I grew up in Columbus, and had friends that attended Jordan…I was a Baker brat, and then went to Hardaway. Memories. Thanks for sharing this!

    • thegeorgiacitizen says:

      Abby, Back in the day, we could choose what high school we went to. So, we might have gone to elementary school and junior high with friends who chose a different high school. I had friends at several high schools. But, our family was Jordan all the way, although my Mom graduated from Columbus. She said that she “repented” of this. Ha!

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