Temple HS jazz ensemble going strong
It's been a big year for the Highlighters, and the busy season is still to come. Plus, angling for really small fish, and check out those holiday lights at BLORA.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19, 2021
“We play a lot of big band standards and some contemporary music, but we also play some tunes that are abstract. It stretches their talents and gets them to double-up on their skills.”
Award-winning Highlighters in tune for more festival season success
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Fresh off receiving a national honor, Temple High’s Highlighter jazz ensemble is preparing for a busy festival season that includes at least four competitions. More may be in the works, said Highlighters director Marcos Duran.
“We’re picking up where we left off,” Duran said. “Last year, all the festivals were virtual because of the pandemic. But this year, everything’s live.”
In the early months of 2022, Highlighters will be participating in the Temple College Jazz Festival, the Longhorn Jazz Festival, the Tarleton Jazz Festival and an Essentially Ellington regional event.
“We’ve been invited to others,” Duran said Thursday. “I received an invitation to a Granbury festival this morning.”
Last year’s Highlighters ensemble was selected as a National winner in the Mark of Excellence, a national jazz honors project conducted by The Foundation for Music Education. The award was presented in September 2021, and the Temple group was one of three high school jazz bands in America to receive National honors.
“It was a welcome surprise to be honest with you because of everything we went through last year,” Duran said. “These kids kept showing up and doing what they needed to do so we could keep playing.”
“We had some really special moments in our ensemble, and winning this honor makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile,” he said. “We were making music for the sake of making music, and winning this contest was just a by-product of us doing that.”
Members of that award-winning ensemble agree with Duran’s sentiments.
“Last year was definitely a challenge,” said Amber Morris, a senior alto saxophone player. “We just did what we do — make music. Most of us are in several bands other than Highlighters. I’m in an ensemble, the brass band and the marching band as well.”
Amber, who was inspired to pick up a saxophone by a family full of former THS band members, is one of several jazz band performers who play more than one instrument. Other than alto sax, she also plays clarinet on some pieces.
Henry Eminger, a junior, is another example of a student who plays multiple instruments.
“I play French horn in concert and marching bands,” he said. “But I wanted to be involved with the jazz ensemble so I picked up the trumpet. They are similar.”
Eminger also plays a mean flugelhorn, according to Duran.
“We’re playing some demanding stuff,” Duran said. “We play a lot of big band standards and some contemporary music, but we also play some tunes that are abstract — such as ‘Wyrgly’ by Maria Schneider. It stretches their talents and gets them playing extra instruments. They have to double-up on their skills.”
Lead trombonist Sebastian Diaz, just a sophomore, also plays bass trombone at times, and like many of his bandmates, he juggles a busy schedule.
“These kids are more than just musicians,” Duran said. “Many are taking advanced placement courses and some play sports as well. They have demanding schedules, and we try to allow our class to be a release.”
While the band’s festival lineup is still being sorted out, Duran has definite ideas for the spring.
“I’m looking at several Duke Ellington pieces,” said Duran, who is in his fourth year at the Highlighters helm after serving as band director at Travis Middle School. “Ellington’s ‘Main Stem,’ ‘Concerto for Cootie,’‘Isafan’ and ‘Shout’m Aunt Tillie’ are all good choices. I’m also looking at ‘Move Your Rug’ by Jeff Coffin and two Charles Mingus selections, ‘Haitian Fight Song’ and ‘Boogie Stop Shuffle.’”
The mention of ‘Boogie Stop’ brought smiles to the faces of Diaz, Eminger and Morris.
“That’s a good one,” Morris said. “It’s a jam.”
Highlighters, along with all of Temple ISD’s jazz bands from high school to middle schools, will perform “Merry Christmas & All That Jazz” at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy auditorium.
MICROFISHING APPEALS TO NEW CROWD OF ANGLERS
‘You should see the one that got away!’
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
When it comes to fishing, bigger is normally better.
But a new sport with Japanese roots is changing the way some Texas anglers think. And fish.
It’s called microfishing, and it’s all about the pursuit of the tiniest species in the fish world. Minnows, dace, darters, black-tailed shiners and Texas logperch — they’re all common in the Temple area, and they are found in waters normally not considered by traditional fishermen.
“You can fish just about anywhere for tiny fish,” said Adam Comer, an aquatic education training specialist for Texas Parks & Wildlife. “All you need is a small pole, a light line and a tiny hook. No reel is needed, it’s kind of like using a cane pole — only smaller.”
“Microfishing isn’t huge just yet, but its day is coming,” he said. “It’s a growing sub-sect of fishermen and people who love fish.”
Obviously, the purpose of microfishing isn’t to put dinner on the table. Instead, it provides a way to study fish usually not seen.
“There are about 169 freshwater species in Texas,” Comer said, “and only 17 are game fish. Most of the other 152 species are very small fish, and some — like the green-throated darter — are quite beautiful.”
Comer said many of the fishermen now going small are anglers who have a lifelong species list and they want to catch as many species as they can during their lifetime.
“After a while, they’ve done all the big fish,” he said. “Bass, catfish, trout — most anglers have already caught those. Now, they want to go after the smaller species on their lists.”
According to Comer, fishing gear companies are catering to the new run on microfishing, and you can buy super-expensive telescoping rods with tiny reels.
“You really don’t need that,” Comer said. “I use a stick or a wooden dowel from Hobby Lobby. They work fine.”
Aside from a small rod, Comer recommends a 2-pound line and a size 32 hook.
“These tiny hooks are a little hard to find — your local bait shop may not have them,” he said. “But in most cases a size 26 will be adequate.”
As far as bait, there are many options, but remember, small fish have small mouths.
“Tiny worms, a bacon bit, a tiny ball or cheese — these work well,” Comer said. “Another thing you will see advertised is gluten paste. It works, but there are cheaper options."
So where are the best places to microfish?
“Anywhere there are tiny fish,” he said. “Degraded urban creeks or ponds, headwaters of a spring, or a bigger pond or lake,” he said. “Even big lakes have tiny fish but they may be harder to catch because they are wary of predators.”
Most folks who microfish are interested in learning about freshwater species they may not be familiar with, Comer said.
“Anglers usually carry a small plastic box similar to a mobile aquarium to put the fish in,” he said. “You could even use a water bottle. That way you can study and identify the species, photograph the fish, then return it to the water.”
“Some of these fish are rare,” he said. “And, they can be difficult to catch. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.”
Comer and two colleagues — Michael Scherer and Richard Loveland, both with TP&W — will be conducting an informational Zoom meeting about microfishing at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. To register, call Comer at (512) 389-4472 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE …
BLORA’S 5.5 mile Nature in Lights drive is open through Jan. 2
Our Town Temple
Thanksgiving is drawing near, marking the start of spend-quality-time-with-the-family season. Fun activities abound, such as shopping, parties, putting up a tree, making Santa cookies and looking at area Christmas lights.
There are many places to see spectacular lighting displays, such as the downtown areas of Temple and Belton, and residential areas throughout the area — don’t forget a drive through Morgan’s Point.
But the traditional King of Christmas displays in Central Texas can be found at BLORA — Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.
BLORA’s display, known as Nature in Lights, has become a Bell County tradition in recent years.
Nature In Lights turns BLORA into a winter wonderland, and the 800-plus acre park is open every night now through Jan. 2, from 5:30 to 11 p.m.
The 5.5 miles of illuminated displays — many which are computer animated — range in size from strands of artfully configured lights to scenes that are more than 300 feet wide.
Visitors can tune to FM 91.9 to enjoy the sounds of the season as they traverse the park.
Nature in Lights began in 1996 and has grown every year.
On a typical night, the enchanted journey takes a good hour and a half. But on weekend nights closer to Christmas, plan on being there a while.
The cost of entry to Nature in Lights is based on the size of the vehicle. Admission for a car, mini-van or pickup truck is $20, and a 15-passenger van, a limo and RV’s are charged $35. A 24-passenger van is $55 and a 47-passenger van or bus is $80.
There’s an optional train ride to see lighting displays not visible from the road. This special trip is $5 for adults and $3 for children 11 and under. Kids riding in a parent’s lap are free. In addition, pony rides are $5.
There is even a Santa’s Village that provides hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and a visit with Santa. Children can start seeing Santa as soon as Thanksgiving, and every Thursday to Sunday. Outside of Santa’s Village is a petting zoo.
AROUND TOWN: BITS & PIECES
Temple Christmas Parade is Dec. 6
The 75th annual Temple Christmas Parade and City Tree Lighting takes place at 6:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, in the City Hall parking lot.
According to Chelsea Butler of Temple Parks & Recreation, the parade will start on MLK Drive, run along Adams Avenue, and end at Temple High School.
Butler said there will be two downtown Christmas trees this year, one at City Hall, the other at Santa Fe Plaza.
She added that there will be festivities at Santa Fe Plaza that evening, including a visit by Frosty the Snowman.
So far, 52 entries have signed up for the parade, including bands, floats and decorated vehicles.
Word has it, Santa has already signed up!
‘The Yard’ is growing
Two new trucks have joined the food fleet at The Yard, located along the railroad tracks near 1st Street in downtown Temple.
According to Chelsea Butler of Temple Parks & Recreation, Lulamae’s Cajun Cuisine and Taqueria Mi Lino Nayarit are now open for business, bringing the number of trucks at The Yard to four.
Butler said there is space for up to four more food trucks.
Micah Schexnider, owner of Lulamae’s, said The Yard is working to promote every Friday night, not just First Friday events. Butler said her department is organizing a live music series every three months in The Yard.
POSTCARD FROM THE PAST
One of Temple’s favorite fast-food joints was the Chuc Wagon on 1st Street. It was owned by Charles W. Houston Sr., who also owned the Charcoal Inn and The Brite Spot. In addition, members of the Houston family owned the popular Houston motel in Marlin. The Chuc Wagon was expanded a couple of times and was closed during the 1980s.
WHAT’S HAPPENING, CENTRAL TEXAS?
Central Texas largest and most complete calendar of event:
November 19, Friday - Yuletide Tour of Homes. To purchase tickets, visit www.TempleChildrensMuseum.org/events.
November 19, Friday - Furious Friday TNT at Little River Dragway. 5 p.m.
November 19, Friday - Cigar & Beer Pairing at Fire Base Brewing Co. 5 p.m.
November 19, Friday - Book Cellar Investigation. $20 per person. 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m.
November 19, Friday - Justin Hewitt at O’Briens. 9 p.m.
November 19-20 - The Temple College Opera Workshop class, also known as Opera in a Box, will present a show titled “Mostly Mozart” on Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Jackson-Graeter Backstage Theatre.
November 19 through January 15 - Facing the Inferno wildfire photo exhibit opens at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
November 20, Saturday - Casey Donahew at Bell County Expo Center’s Assembly Hall.
November 20, Saturday - Billy Holt Band at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
November 20, Saturday - Game Show Night by Texas Red at Fire Base Brewing. 7-9 p.m.
November 20, Saturday - Belton Market Days. Downtown Belton. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
November 20, Saturday - The Gathering. Native American music, dancing, food. Bring a lawn chair or blanket for picnicking and fun. Yetti Polk Park in Belton. 11 a.m.
November 21, Sunday – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), free movie at Cultural Activities Center. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles. Shrubberies not required. The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Professor Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
November 25, Thursday - Thanksgiving Outdoor Movie Night at Barrow Brewing in Salado. “A Christmas Story.” 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 27 - Wreath Laying Ceremony at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. 10 a.m.
November 27-28 - Kris Kringle Mart presented by KC Council 3444, 2218 W. Avenue D, Temple. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 2 — Die Hard at The Beltonian. It IS. a Christmas movie!. 6 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Christmas and Holiday Season First Friday downtown Temple. 5 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Sammy G’s Toy Drive Block Party at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
December 3-4 - Christmas on the Chilsom Trail, Central Avenue and East Street in Belton. 6 p.m.
December 3-5 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 4, Saturday - Todd Snider, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
December 4, Saturday - Santa at the Depot, Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, 5-8 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Lance Wade Thomas rocks O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Temple Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert featuring soprano Priscilla Santana and tenor Brian Joyce. Temple High School. 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Chisholm Trail Christmas Ball featuring Rick Trevino. Bell County Expo Center. 6 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Epically Hogwarts Holiday at Mayborn Science Center in Killeen. 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
December 4-5 - Kris Kringle Mart presented by KC Council 3444, 2218 W. Avenue D, Temple. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 6, Monday - The 75th Annual Christmas Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. This year's theme is “The Magic of a Traditional Christmas." Details will be made available on templeparks.com.
December 10, Friday - TISD Jazz Band – Merry Christmas and All That Jazz at Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy Auditorium, 5:30 p.m.
December 10, Friday - Bone at O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 10-12, The Texas Nutcracker, performed by Classical Ballet Conservatory of Lisa's Dance Connection, performance at the Cultural Activities Center.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy. We are excited to partner our market with a Food Truck Event! Come join us and support local businesses in our area! 2 N. Main Street. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 5th annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Troy Community Center. Shop with local small businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Tucka Texas Takeover with LJ Echols, Fat Daddy and Mr. Smoke. VFW Post 1820, Temple. 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Holiday Laser Light Show at Barrow Brewing Co. in Salado. Part of the 61st annual Salado Christmas Stroll. 7 p.m.
December 12, Sunday - Temple High School Band Winter Concert in the THS Auditorium, 2:00 p.m.
December 13, Monday - Temple High School Orchestra Christmas Concert at THS Auditorium, 7 p.m.
December 14, Tuesday - Temple High School Choir Holiday Gift at THS Auditorium. 7:30 p.m.
December 17, Friday - Matt Cearley & The Rowdy Few, O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 19, Sunday – When Harry Met Sally… (1989), free movie at Cultural Activities Center. Boy meets girl, boy sees other girls, and girl sees other boys. Maybe boy and girl should have seen each other. “I’ll have what she’s having.” The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
December 18, Saturday - Shinyribs, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
December 23, Thursday - Santa & Elvis at Fire Street Pizza. 6-9 p.m.
December 31 - January 1 - Texas Elite Pole Vaulting. The Expo Explosion, the second largest indoor pole vaulting event in the country. Bell County Expo Center’s Garth Arena.
December 31, Friday - New Year’s Eve at O’Briens with the Jason Custer Band. 10 p.m.
December 31, Friday - New Year’s Eve at Bo’s Barn with the Craig Howell Band. 9 p.m.
January 29, Saturday - Parker McCollum Red Dirt Mardi Gras at Bell County Expo. 8 p.m.
LIST YOUR EVENT! Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.