Tag Archives: cameron

Big city, small town

The April NaBloPoMo theme is “Grow.” Fitting for Spring. Fitting for Easter. Fitting all the way around.

Ironically, I’ve lately been pondering the fact that the two places I call home have the exact opposite in “growing pains.” One just refuses to grow. The other is growing way too fast.

I fear for my hometown in Texas. It’s just slowly dying. Industry that was there closed or left. (There is still a little industry happening there, but its no where near enough to allow the town to grow.) I suppose its to make up the lost revenue that property taxes are ridiculous. When my parents tell me what they pay for utilities, it boggles my mind. It’s no wonder people aren’t moving in and they are instead moving away.

Battle of the Bell

My hometown has a great school with a definite focus and support on sports. The band was a state-known band, and it could be again if the right changes are made. I am most definitely proud to be a Cameron Yoeman.

My hometown, though, it just needs to be open to growth. It needs more than Mexican food and hamburgers. It needs to find a positive attitude and embrace anyone wishing to open something new. A friend recently (like in the last week) opened a music store in the town square. I have zero doubt some people rolled their eyes and said, “Well there’s no place for that HERE.”  And I challenge them to instead say, “Excellent! It’s the only music store in a 60 mile radius! Let’s back this and get people from surrounding towns to come HERE to shop!”

My hometown doesn’t need to be a bustling metropolis. I would frown at that happening myself! But I wish I would go back and say, “Wow when did that open!” instead of, “Oh man, when did they close and tear that building down?” I have a real fear that in years to come my hometown will be essentially a footnote in a history book.

Milam County Courthouse

But speaking of history, my beloved adopted home of Nashville, TN breaks my heart just as much as my hometown does, but for the exact opposite reason.

When I moved to Music City in 2006, I fell madly in love with history in general. The city oozed a pride in its past that is impossible to find in any metro city. I found myself digging into the past in the public library. (I especially found myself in a love affair with Printer’s Alley in the heart of Nashville.) It was a growing city on the path of progress and growth, but it still had many old buildings oozed simple Southern Charm.

CMA Fest 2010

However, in the last five years, I’ve seen beautiful old buildings torn down and bright, shiny, new buildings of steel and glass go up in its place. Southern charm came to be replaced with metro sleek. And no matter how much people scream and yell that they want the progress to slow down just a little bit, developers from California, Florida, New York, Chicago, Atlanta care none. They snatch up buildings, kick out the tennants (some that were successful businesses for 20 years!) and put up something new. Apartments and condos mostly. Locals can no longer afford to enjoy the city they live in… the city they nurtured into the amazing place it came to be. Or that it was.

Don’t get me wrong. Nashville NEEDS to grow. Much like my hometown, you have to ebb and flow and grow. Heck, I’m myself working to open something new in Nashville! I’d be a total hypocrite if I throw a fit about new things and then open something new myself. I am NOT saying we can’t grow. We HAVE to grow.

Music City Center

But not at the expense of our history. NOT at the expense of losing the charm and small-town-feel Nashville always boasted while being a city. We can’t become so expensive that the blue collar workers who listen to country radio can’t afford to come visit us. Come see the Ryman. Come drive down the Natchez. Come tour the Country Music Hall of Fame and take in an Opry show.

I fear we will soon be “Atlanta North” and I sometimes wonder if I’ll even care to be here when that happens… and in the same breath, if my hometown will even still exist then, too.

Grow. You have to grow lest you whither up and die. But don’t grow faster that your roots can hold you.

38/47: Downtown lights

Honor band

I was in the band in high school. I played flute. (Go ahead. Throw out your best American Pie joke. I’ve heard them all.) I was a member of the colorguard. I loved every single second of it. Most of my favorite memories of those years are tied to one band event or another, and I took pride in being a member of the band. I learned so much in my years in band. There are many, many elements of my personality and point of view that were molded through the discipline and leadership band demanded of me.

But I’m going to be brutally honest here. The band was the afterthought when I was in school. My years were spent battling for attention from the community, the rest of the school, and even the state as no matter what we did it wasn’t good enough. Membership dwindled. Those of us that cared surely had our moments of wondering why we even tried at times. But then there were those moments when it was magic. And it was those moments that kept you going.

Fast forward to today. My nephew is a member of the high school band, and its a whole different world for him than it was for me. Membership is swelling. There is a pride that you can FEEL when you are in the band’s presence. It is NOTHING like it was when I was there. It’s a bazillion times better, stronger and respected.

The Texas House of Representatives Resolution honoring the Yoe High School Band.
The Texas House of Representatives Resolution honoring the Yoe High School Band.

When I was a member of the Yoe High Band, we couldn’t have even dreamed of being acknowledged by the Texas House of Representatives!

They’ve won at the state marching contest. And, as the resolution reads, they were named the State 2A Honor Band.

These kids… they have talent beyond what I could have dreamed of having cultivated when I was in band. Their band director, Steven Moss, clearly is an amazing leader. He works them hard. But he also treats them with respect and rewards their efforts and successes. From the top-down this band is, in a word, amazing.

Last Friday, I traveled with my parents down to San Antonio, TX, to see the band perform for the Texas Music Educators Association conference. I sat in the front row and was moved time and time again by the performance.

TMEA State 2A Honor Band
TMEA State 2A Honor Band

One of the pieces they performed was commissioned by the band to be written specifically for them. How many bands can really say that has happened for them!? Sure as heck wasn’t going to happen when I was there!

During the performance, they took a moment to honor the band, band director and to thank certain guests in attendance in the audience.

TMEA State 2A Honor Band
Drum Majors accepting the state honor for the band.

They asked all Yoe High alumni in attendance to stand and be recognized for setting the foundation on which these kids have built upon. I’ll be honest, I was a little amazed by this, even as I stood up. I joked later that we set the bar low, so they had no where to go but up. But that was purely my being funny. In reality, I think part of the band being where it is today IS due to our fight in our years to be acknowledged and recognized. We had to go through those years to, today, stand up and go, “HEY! PAY ATTENTION! The band is amazing and deserves all the support and recognition and honors it gets.”

I’m going to piss people off with this. And I don’t care. Texas is a football state. Generally, we Texans will eat, breathe, sleep, drink and live the game. Even if its just armchair quarterbacks.  Its in my blood, and I won’t deny that. But it also makes me downright ANGRY to see the band programs in so many schools get brushed aside to make more money available for the football programs. To hear people suggest a band director should be payed less than a football coach gets me seething mad.

Studies upon studies have been done that prove music helps learning. I know when I was in school, very, very few band students failed out of being able to participate. Show me a band student in college today who didn’t get there through sweat, tears and hard work both with their instruments as well as in the classroom. Whereas just recently CNN did a report about college athletes who read at a 5th grade level.  Think about that for awhile.

I’m not here to point fingers. I’m just here to point out that these students in this band work their fingers off and deserve every bit of attention and respect they’ve gotten… and then some.

Me with my niece and nephew after the concert
Me with my niece and nephew after the concert


I’m so proud of the Yoe High School Band. I’d be proud of them even if my nephew weren’t a member, but its safe to say he’s my favorite member and makes my pride in the band more personal.

Congratulations, band! You have done Cameron, Texas proud. You’ve done yourself proud. You have surpassed everything I could have ever dreamed of doing when I was a member of the band… you amaze me every day and remind me all is NOT lost and there is still a lot of amazing and positive youth in this world. You don’t get to hear about them much, and I’m sorry that is the case. But keep it up, and all the positive accolades will continue to come your way. You deserve it all.

Sending love from your fan and alumni member living in Music City…