Band rocks and rolls to superior rating

Herald Writer

Hundreds of hours spent recording in a band room paid off for this year's members of the Miami Beach High Rock Ensemble.
The renditions of 12 pop songs ranging from Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison to Celebrity Skin by Courtney Love achieved top-notch approval at a recent band festival in Chicago.
The 28 members came back April 27 strutting their 3 1/2-foot trophy from the Midwest Music Festival in Chicago, along with a framed certificate from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

After a five-day performance, for some it was hard to imagine what was to come. ``We were working so hard and for so long that I didn't know what to expect,'' said Tennille Maisner, 18, the band's lead vocalist.

School bands nationwide competed at the festival, where the rock ensemble band earned a superior rating, placed first in the jazz band category and received a grand champion trophy for best in the festival.

Doug Burris, who created the rock ensemble in 1972, thought their modern music would keep them from achieving high marks.

``I was very happy to win the superior rating and even though we played contemporary pop rock they kept us in the category,'' Burris said.

But the superior feeling came from playing at the Hall of Fame. ``As I walked in the Hall of Fame, I was surrounded by legends and it felt like they were with us while we played,'' Maisner said.

And while other high schools have performed there, Burris can boast that his group was the first to receive an honor from the Hall of Fame.

The certificate presented to the ensemble reads: ``Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum commends the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble for Rockin' the Planet Since 1972.''

``It was exciting to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,'' Burris said. ``It is the shrine of all of us making rock and roll music.''

Community members and organizations donated to pay for the price of the band's dreams.

Lou Spear, a retired executive, donated $10,000 toward the cost of the trip and Dr. Solomon Stinson, chairman of the Miami-Dade County School Board, allocated $5,000 toward the cost of transportation to and from Chicago. Sam Ash Music Corp. provided the sound system at Chicago and Cleveland.

Burris, who was invited to play again in Cleveland, said he hopes it will become part of the course.

``I'd love to make it a yearly thing -- to get used to playing at the mecca of rock and roll.''