Saturday Knight Special: Blue-Gold Marching band to pay tribute to late band director Lenny Knight

DOVER — The harmonious sounds of nearly 100 instruments still crack through the air and the thumping beat continues to pulsate for the 2017 Blue-Gold All-Star Marching Band.

Band directors Dr. Harvey Bullock Jr. and Josh Palmer wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mr. Bullock and Mr. Palmer are both directing the Blue-Gold band this year, calling it their own personal tribute to their long-time friend and former Dover High band director Lenny Knight, who died on March 14 at the age of 46.

They will lead the band into Saturday night’s 62nd annual Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game, which will be played at 6 at Delaware Stadium.

Mr. Knight had served as the Blue-Gold band director for six-straight years prior to his untimely death.

Delaware State University’s Dr. Harvey Bullock Jr. (left) and Smyrna High School’s Josh Palmer are serving as directors of the Blue-Gold All-Star March Band in tribute to their late friend Lenny Knight. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

“Lenny was my brother, I mean we were real close,” said Dr. Bullock, director of bands at Delaware State University. “I’ve known him for over 20-plus years, through Delaware State, through our travels as (high school) band directors in the state, and this is just a great time.

“I feel humbled and honored to be able to come and continue the legacy that he has started with this (Blue-Gold) band and continue to help this band grow and all the things that he stood for with this band. It’s just a privilege.”

Mr. Palmer had the pleasure of being a student under Mr. Knight at Dover High School before eventually growing into a colleague. He is now the band director at Smyrna High School.

He said that every time he directs his musicians that there is always a part of Mr. Knight that comes out.

“I remember going over to (Mr. Knight’s) house and hanging out with him when I was in college,” said Mr. Palmer, who graduated from Dover High School in 2002. “We laughed, hung out, went out to eat. He was just a really great friend and great person.

The Blue-Gold All-Star Marching Band gets in some practice on the football field at Delaware State University’s Alumni Stadium. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

“He was a true mentor. A lot of the things that I’m talking about with the kids now are because of things that I learned while talking with him over the years. He was truly a special person.”

Mr. Palmer knew there was a tremendous void left when Mr. Knight died.

“Just after Lenny’s passing I reached out to Samantha Martone, who is the coordinator for the Blue-Gold band, and I told her I know that his passing leaves a hole and I’d be willing to step up if you guys are interested,” he said. “If you want me here, I’ll be glad to be here.

“Then we ended up tag-teaming with Dr. Bullock from Delaware State University, who was also a good friend of Lenny’s. So it has all worked out great.”

Mr. Knight’s legacy will definitely be a big part of Saturday night’s halftime show.

“This show is dedicated to him,” Dr. Bullock said. “All of the music was written by him and we’ll even put some of his favorite dance moves in there.

“It’s just a tragic loss for everybody within the state, but we’re going to make sure that on Saturday we honor him very proper with the Blue-Gold band.”

Mr. Palmer said that he, Dr. Bullock and Mr. Knight were all very connected thanks to their love of music and dedication to instilling a passion for it in their students.

He admitted that Saturday night will be quite emotional for him.

“The show is all his music,” Mr. Palmer said. “We took all arrangements of (Mr. Knight’s) and all of the music in the show is stuff that he put down on paper.

“Then in the show we’re going to spell out his initials as just a nice little tribute. That was one of my biggest pieces in jumping into this was, not only for the cause and everything else, but to have a moment to pay tribute to my friend.”

Mr. Knight loved volunteering for the Blue-Gold Marching Band, which gave him an opportunity to connect with musicians from all over the state.

The Blue-Gold band members consist of ninth through 12th graders and are recommended o participate by their band director/music department chair and school principal.

Mr. Knight’s enthusiasm for his craft came bubbling through before the Blue-Gold game in 2015.

“It’s going to be fun,” he told the State News. “Do not get popcorn or hot dogs until after the halftime show because you might miss something.”

He then added, “Every year is a blessing. I want everyone to look forward to a great show and not just at halftime, in the stands during the game, too.”

Dr. Bullock said that Mr. Knight’s presence could still be felt as the Blue-Gold band practiced together at Delaware State University’s Alumni Stadium on Thursday.

“We’ve been feeling his energy throughout all of the practices that we’ve had,” he said. “His spirit is definitely with this band and it’s going to continue to be with this band for generations to come.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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